Price and agency effects on charitable giving behavior

H. Daniel Heist, Ram A. Cnaan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Charitable giving challenges our understanding of human behavior; it benefits others yet is guided by personal preferences. This study uses online experiments to test how donors respond to circumstantial conditions in donative behavior. We vary two factors, the amount of agency and the price of giving, to test how these factors affect charitable giving behavior. Experiment 1 demonstrated that a simple choice set enhancing perceived agency increased donations by increasing participation rates, but not the average donation amount. Experiment 2 used a text entry mechanism to demonstrate that a higher level of agency leads to even higher donations. Both experiments demonstrated that price incentives strongly affect the average donation amounts, and in some cases participation rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-138
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics
StatePublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Inc.


  • Agency
  • Altruism
  • Charitable giving
  • Donations
  • Price
  • Prosocial behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • General Social Sciences


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