Next Article in Journal / Special Issue
Call to Action: Intrinsic Motives and Material Interests
Previous Article in Journal
Learning Dynamics and Norm Psychology Supports Human Cooperation in a Large-Scale Prisoner’s Dilemma on Networks
Previous Article in Special Issue
Do Economists Punish Less?
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Games 2018, 9(4), 91;

From Social Information to Social Norms: Evidence from Two Experiments on Donation Behaviour

Department of Economics, University of Heidelberg, Bergheimer Str. 20, 69115 Heidelberg, Germany
ConPolicy—Institute for Consumer Policy, Friedrichstr. 224, 10969 Berlin, Germany
Department of Economics, University of Birmingham, JG Smith Building, Birmingham B15 2SB, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 August 2018 / Revised: 26 October 2018 / Accepted: 30 October 2018 / Published: 4 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Norms and Games)
Full-Text   |   PDF [1394 KB, uploaded 4 November 2018]   |  


While preferences for conformity are commonly seen as an important driver of pro-social behaviour, only a small set of previous studies has explicitly tested the behavioural mechanisms underlying this proposition. In this paper, we report on two interconnected experimental studies that jointly provide a more thorough and robust understanding of a causal mechanism that links social information (i.e., information about the generosity of others) to donations via changing the perception of a descriptive social norm. In a modified dictator game, Experiment 1 re-investigates this mechanism adding further robustness to prior results by eliciting choices from a non-student sample and by implementing an additional treatment that controls for potential anchoring effects implied by the methods used in previous investigations. Experiment 2 adds further robustness by investigating the link between social information, (descriptive) norm perception and giving at the individual, rather than the group average, level. We find that an exogenous variation of social information influences beliefs about others’ contributions (descriptive social norm) and, through this channel, actual giving. An exploratory analysis indicates that this causal relationship is differently pronounced among the two sexes. We rule out anchoring effects as a plausible confound in previous investigations. The key findings carry over to the individual level. View Full-Text
Keywords: Social Norms; Donations; Experiment; Social Information; Altruism Social Norms; Donations; Experiment; Social Information; Altruism

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Goeschl, T.; Kettner, S.E.; Lohse, J.; Schwieren, C. From Social Information to Social Norms: Evidence from Two Experiments on Donation Behaviour. Games 2018, 9, 91.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Games EISSN 2073-4336 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top