Prosocial behavior is important for a well-functioning society, but many people try to avoid situations where they could act prosocially. This paper studies the avoidance of a prosocial request, how it is affected by social pressure, and whether request avoidance and social pressure generate spillover effects on following prosocial behaviors. To this aim, we conduct an incentivized online experiment (N=1400), where participants play two consecutive dictator games with a charity. In the first game, we vary the type of game and information provided in a 2 x 2 between-subject design: (i) standard dictator game or dictator game with costly opt-out; (ii) with or without social information (mean donation in a previous session). The second game is a standard dictator game for all and aims to capture spillover effects from the first decision. We find that the opt-out option leads to significantly lower donations, especially when social information is present (but this effect is not statistically significant). The negative effect of the opt-out option spills over to the second donation decision. We also observe a negative spillover effect after a standard dictator game. Social information reduces donations in a standard dictator game, but also allows to mitigate the negative spillover effect from the first to the second behavior.
To request or not to request: charitable giving, social information, and spillover
10 May 2023