NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Alexander L. Brown

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Working Papers

May 2014Social Distance and Quality Ratings in Charity Choice
with Jonathan Meer, J. Forrest Williams: w20182
We conduct a laboratory experiment to examine how third-party ratings impact charity choice and donative behavior, particularly in regards to preferences for local charities. Subjects are given a menu of ten charities, with a mix of local and non-local organizations included. We vary whether third-party ratings are displayed on this menu. Subjects perform an effort task to earn money and can choose to donate to their selected charity. We find evidence that subjects' choice of charity is impacted by third-party evaluations but, somewhat surprisingly, there are no obvious preferences for local charities. These third-party assessments have some impact on the percent of earnings that subjects allocate to their selected charity; local charities also accrue more donations, though these results a...
Small Victories: Creating Intrinsic Motivation in Savings and Debt Reduction
with Joanna N. Lahey: w20125
Saving when faced with the immediate option to spend is an unpleasant but not conceptually difficult task. One popular approach contradicts traditional economic theory by suggesting that people in debt should pay off their debts from smallest size to largest regardless of interest rate, to realize quick motivational gains from eliminating debts. We more broadly define this idea as "small victories" and discuss, model, and empirically examine alternative behavioral theories that might explain it. Using a laboratory computer task, we test the validity of these predictions by breaking down this approach into component parts and examining their efficacy. Consistent with the idea of small victories, we find that when a mildly unpleasant task is broken down into parts of unequal size, subjects c...
May 2013Why Do People Volunteer? An Experimental Analysis of Preferences for Time Donations
with Jonathan Meer, J. Forrest Williams: w19066
We conduct a laboratory experiment to test if there are differences in behavior when subjects can donate either time or money to charity. Our subjects perform an effort task to earn money. In one condition they can have their efforts accrue to a charity instead of themselves. In other conditions subjects may only earn money for their private account but then donate it to a charity. We vary the timing and availability of donation opportunities in the monetary donation settings to test the impact of subtle solicitation pressure. We find that subjects with a more opportunities to donate will donate more often and in larger amounts. Further, subjects giving effort to charity give far more than subjects who give monetary donations - between two and five times as much, on average. We posit that ...

Contact and additional information for this authorAll NBER papers and publicationsNBER Working Papers onlyInformation about this author at RePEc

 
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