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American Economic Review: Vol. 99 No. 1 (March 2009)

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Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially

Article Citation

Ariely, Dan, Anat Bracha, and Stephan Meier. 2009. "Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially." American Economic Review, 99(1): 544-55.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.1.544

Abstract

This paper experimentally examines image motivation--the desire to be liked and well regarded by others--as a driver in prosocial behavior (doing good), and asks whether extrinsic monetary incentives (doing well) have a detrimental effect on prosocial behavior due to crowding out of image motivation. Using the unique property of image motivation--its dependency on visibility--we show that image is indeed an important part of the motivation to behave prosocially, and that extrinsic incentives crowd out image motivation. Therefore, monetary incentives are more likely to be counterproductive for public prosocial activities than for private ones. (JEL D64, L31, Z13)

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Authors

Ariely, Dan (Duke U)
Bracha, Anat (Tel Aviv U)
Meier, Stephan (Columbia U)

JEL Classifications

D64: Altruism
L31: Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs
Z13: Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology


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