Journal article

The impact of a surprise donation ask

CL Exley, R Petrie

Journal of Public Economics | Elsevier | Published : 2018


Individuals frequently exploit “flexibility” built into decision environments to give less. They use uncertainty to justify options benefiting themselves over others, they avoid information that may encourage them to give, and they avoid the ask itself. In this paper, we examine whether a reluctance to give may arise even when such explicit flexibility is absent. We investigate whether merely alerting individuals to an upcoming prosocial ask — that is neither avoided nor occurs in an environment with flexibility — results in reduced prosocial behavior. That is, we investigate whether individuals use time to quickly find ways to decline prosocial asks and thus whether surprising individuals w..

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Funding Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge funding for this project from George Mason University, Harvard Business School, Stanford University and Texas A&M University. An early version of this paper was entitled "Finding Excuses to Decline the Ask."