April 2006

IZA DP No. 2064: Active Decisions and Pro-social Behavior: A Field Experiment on Blood Donation

Alois Stutzer, Lorenz Götte, Michael Zehnder

published in: Economic Journal, 2011, 121 (556), 476-493

In this paper, we propose a decision framework where people are individually asked to either actively consent or dissent to some pro-social behavior. We hypothesize that confronting individuals with the choice of engaging in a specific pro-social behavior contributes to the formation of issue-specific altruistic preferences while simultaneously involving a commitment. The hypothesis is tested in a large-scale field experiment on blood donation. We find that this "active-decision" intervention substantially increases the stated willingness to donate blood, as well as the actual donation behavior of people who have not fully formed preferences beforehand.