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Q: Citation of a Peer-Reviewed Empirical Study ( No Answer,   1 Comment )
Subject: Citation of a Peer-Reviewed Empirical Study
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: madsyentist-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 13 Oct 2006 10:06 PDT
Expires: 19 Oct 2006 20:51 PDT
Question ID: 773228
I'm currently working on a thesis and I'm having a bit of difficulty
locating a source, though I have been told by countless professors
that there has already been a significant bit of research done in this
area.  I am looking for is a citation to a peer-reviewed
empirical study on a topic that is extremely similar to the one
detailed below.  I am pricing this question at $50.  Please feel free
to ask for as much clarification as you need.  Thanks for your time.

There is no clear-cut subject heading for this, but some relevant headings are:
Behavioral Economics
Experimental Economics
Industrial Psychology
Cause-Related Marketing
Promotional Marketing
Motivational Psychology and Consumer Behavior

The experiment:
I would like to perform an experiment that has to do with measuring
altruism and self-interest when the two options are presented
alongside one another.  The goal of the experiment is to find out what
percentage of people would choose to be altruistic, what percentage
would act in self-interest, and what percentage would act in a way
that would not benefit anyone (meaning that they were too lazy to
act).  I realize that there have been several surveys conducted which
ask people how much they usually donate to charity on an annual basis,
and I could always ask people which option they would probably choose,
but the purpose of my study is to ascertain the difference between the
level of altruism stated by people when asked in-person and the level
of altrusim that is shown by actions in a private setting.  Basically,
I'd like to figure out if people are really as altruistic as they
claim to be.  Another component of my study is to limit the amount of
effort put forth by the subjects.  I'm not asking them to either
purchase anything or do anything that they would not normally be
doing--I'm only asking for a minor behavior modification, which will
in turn result in financial compensation for either the subject or a
charitable organization.

The following is an example of the type of study which I would like to
perform.  Please understand that it is only an example of the type of
study and not the actual study itself.

Imagine that I walked into the homes of hundreds of people and left
behind two bars of soap.  Both of the bars are  identical to the soap
that everyone already uses, except that one bar is blue and the other

Before leaving each home, I inform the residents that all three bars
of soap (the blue, the red, and the original) must be placed right
next to each other.  I also state that for every time the blue bar is
used, a small sum of money--anywhere from 1-cent to 99-cents--is
donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  And for every time that the
red bar is used, that same variable sum of money is added to the
resident's checking account.  If the original bar of soap is used,
neither action takes place.

Over the course of one month, which of the three options would be the most popular?

Again, I am in search of the citation to a similar peer-reviewed empirical study.

Thanks for you time.

Request for Question Clarification by pinkfreud-ga on 13 Oct 2006 11:03 PDT
Do any of these papers meet your needs?

Theories of Commitment, Altruism and Reciprocity:  
Evidence from Linear Public Goods Games

Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiments

Giving Gifts to Groups: How Congestible is Altruism?

An experimental test of the crowding out hypothesis:
The nature of beneficent behavior

Clarification of Question by madsyentist-ga on 14 Oct 2006 10:46 PDT
Hello Pinkfreud, and thanks for your effort to answer this question. 
I spent a good deal of time reviewing the documents which you
submitted and found that of the four, only was somewhat relevant.

Your first citation, Theories of Commitment, Altruism and Reciprocity:  
Evidence from Linear Public Goods Games, talked about an experiment
having to do with public goods games.  Though that particular
experiment isn't quite what I was looking for, it did shed a good deal
of light on what one of the more relevant fields of investigation is:
Public Goods Games

To offer a bit more clarification, I am most interested in learning
about the difference in the results of public goods-type games when
the subjects are aware that they are being observed and when the
subjects are told that their individual actions will not be observed.

I hope you find this clarification to be helpful and not too
constricting.  It seems that you have found the topic that my
professors had been referring to--public goods games--but now it is a
matter of finding just a bit more information on my personal thesis

At the risk of being redundant, I'd like to reiterate one more time
what the purpose of the citatation should be (this is mostly so that I
know that I am explaining it correctly to you and so that I get used
to thinking along the lines of the thesis-topic):

The purpose of the study should be to ascertain the difference in the
level of altruism and self interest in subjects when they are and are
not cognizant of the observation of their behavior.  Basically, are
people as 'good' as they claim to be?  How much of an effect does the
act of observing or recording an individual's action have on his level
of altruism (with respect to personal monetary decisions).

I look forward to seeing your results.

Thanks again.

Clarification of Question by madsyentist-ga on 14 Oct 2006 20:54 PDT
Pinkfreud, are you still working on this question?  If you've decided
against continuing to work on this, I'd like to somehow compensate for
the light that you did shed on my topic.  Is there anyway that I can
offer you a tip without closing out the question?

Clarification of Question by madsyentist-ga on 14 Oct 2006 21:04 PDT
I would like to make a note about the keyword "Public Goods Game". 
After further review, the public goods game is not as relevant as I
had previously thought because the participants of the game actually
benefit from making a donation to the group.  This is slightly
different from the situation which I am proposing, which is one where
the participant gains absolutely nothing by choosing the action which
is not in his self-interest.  My experiment (and more importantly, the
experiment that I am looking for) is less one of a public goods game
and more of an altruist's game--if there is such a thing.

Request for Question Clarification by pinkfreud-ga on 15 Oct 2006 12:07 PDT

I gave this another shot, but I have not been able to find anything
for you that is similar to your experiment. I hope another Researcher
will be able to locate what you need. Most experiments on altruism and
self-interest involve the participants' awarenness that they are being


Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 15 Oct 2006 12:36 PDT

If I can offer a bit of perspective here, it seems to me that your
question has meandered over quite a bit of intellectual territory --
so much so, that it makes it very difficult for a researcher to try to
zero in on what you want.

For instance, your bar-of-soap experiment clearly involves subjects
who know they're being observed.  Your comments indicate you want to
know how they act when they're not observed!

Perhaps you can think through a bit more about what you would like a
researcher here to do for you, and restate your question clearly and

Just my 2 cents...


P.S.  There are probably studies of what people SAY in terms of their
contributions to charity, vs what they actually DO in terms of their
contributions as reported to the IRS.  Is that sort of thing of

Clarification of Question by madsyentist-ga on 17 Oct 2006 17:07 PDT
You guys flippin' rock.

Thanks for your time and effort in looking into this for me, I'm
really annoyed that I can't offer a small sum on the side for your
effort.  I think the Researchers should collectively ask the Great God
Which is Google to open up tip jars for all of you.  By the way, how
does one become a Researcher, anyway?

Thanks for you insight.  You made an excellent comment about me not
having enough focus in the question that I was asking.  It's one of
those situations where I know what I am asking in my head, but I'm
probably doing a lousy job of explaining what is going on in my head. 
The soap-experiment was probably a bad example.  Actually, I was
virtually ignored by the faculty at school when I proposed that

I've sat and thought about this very thoroughly like you advised and
this is what I have come up with:
  I'd like to learn of a study that shows the differences between what
they say they do in terms of charitable contributions and
volunteering.  I don't know if an IRS study would be all that
indicative of anything because most people that I know (including
myself) don't deduct charitable contributions at the end of the year;
probably because the donations aren't large enough or because they are
spur of the moment acts of kindness.  I would be more than thrilled if
I could come across a type of candid-camera style experiment where
subjects said they would do one thing but then when their actions were
later tracked, they in fact did not.  Or maybe they did--I guess that
depends on the findings of the study.

  The other curiosity that I have is to find a public goods experiment
where the money that was thrown in the pot could not in anyway benefit
those that gave it.  In all the public games studies that I have come
across, the money given away was not actually given away--it was
always multiplied and then returned to everyone in the experiment.  In
my opinion, there is nothing altrustic about that--as an individual
you still have something to gain.  I think a better test of altruism
would be to have 'given' money go to the Make-a-Wish Foundation or
some organization that does nothing to promote for the collective good
(e.g. environmentalism, politics, schools, the poor).

You are incredible.  That is an absolutely amazing study.  I still
haven't gone through it completely, but from what I've seen so far,
it's a goldmine of information.  The study has caused me to think in
this direction: why do lucky gamblers tip their dealers?  Or the lady
in the cage that gives them their cash?  That lady has absolutely
nothing to do with the gambler and can in no way effect his future
earnings--not to mention that she didn't really do anything to earn
the tip.  So isn't that pure altruism?  Just a random act of kindness?
 Assuming that you believe in altruism and don't think we do things
just to make ourselves feel good.

So I'm left with this...should I just close this question and start anew?

Omnivorous--I think you'll enjoy this:
Motivations for Using Click-to-Donate Websites

I eagerly await someone's response.

Request for Question Clarification by pinkfreud-ga on 17 Oct 2006 17:22 PDT
I appreciate your thoughtfulness in wanting to tip me! The only way an
offical tip can be given to a Google Answers Researcher requires that
the Researcher post an official answer to the question. Howwever, in
many similar circumstances, customers have achieved the effect of a
tip by posting a brand new question priced at $2 (of which $1.50 will
go to the Researcher). The question can say anything you choose ("What
is your favorite color" is a popular thing to ask in these
circumstances). Earmark the new question for the Researcher you want
to reward by mentioning that person's name in the title or body of the
Question. Then the Researcher will post an official answer to the new,
$2 question, and you can add a tip as desired.

Here is an example of the sort of thing I'm talking about:

Again, thank you for your willingness to offer a tip for my services.
Your generosity is very much appreciated!


Clarification of Question by madsyentist-ga on 19 Oct 2006 07:01 PDT
For the sake of clarity, I'll close this question down and reopen
shortly with one that is much more concise.  To give everyone a
headstart on what it is going to be, I will be asking about the
existance of a public goods game where the collected sum was donated
to charity.

As you all know, I do have other questions in this same vein, but I'll
be sure to save them for another day.

There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Citation of a Peer-Reviewed Empirical Study
From: omnivorous-ga on 16 Oct 2006 15:19 PDT
Madsyentist --

Curiously enough there's a study done regarding Google Answers and
altruism that you may find interesting.  Published as a draft, I don't
know if it was ever published in final form:

"Why Voluntary Contributrions? Google Answers"
Tobias Regner, January 2005

It treats altruist behavior in one Internet market -- here.

Best regards,


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