Pivotal or Popular: The Effects of Social Information and Feeling Pivotal on Civic Actions
We examine the combined effects of popularity and feelings of being important to reaching a goal by testing how people react to situations in which their own behavior is pivotal or not, as well as the popularity of the action. We conduct a laboratory experiment to cleanly fix beliefs about the person's likelihood of being pivotal in reaching a donation threshold that triggers a matching gift, varying both the pivotality and the number of other donors (popularity). The results are striking, with those whose action is pivotal being more than twice as likely to make a donation. We then conduct two field experiments to test these findings in real-world settings. Our results suggest that pivotality is a more important determinant of prosocial behavior.
Laura K. Gee & Anoushka Kiyawat & Jonathan Meer & Michael J. Schreck, 2024. "Pivotal or popular: The effects of social information and feeling pivotal on civic actions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, vol 219, pages 404-413.