Standard economic theory would predict that offering financial incentives to complete an altruistic act should increase individuals' willingness to donate. However, the existing evidence on this effect is mixed. We conducted a laboratory experiment to examine the effects of monetary incentives on an individual’s willingness to accept physical discomfort for donations to charity. Overall, we found that larger monetary incentives increased participants’ likelihood of incurring discomfort for donations to charity, when compared to a purely altruistic condition. However, we also observed an ordering effect, suggesting that if a participant is offered donations to charity alone in return for physical discomfort first, they remain highly motivated by donations to charity when personal incentives are added. These results suggest that context is critical when offering incentives to motivate prosocial behavior, such as blood donation.



Steward, G., Galaro, J., Lacetera, N., Macis, M., Kahn, J., & Chib, V. S. (2024, April 10). The Effect of Incentivizing Pro-Social Behavior is Context Dependent. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/p84kt