Anonymity, Reciprocity, and Conformity: Evidence from Voluntary Contributions to a National Park in Costa Rica
We investigate the role of anonymity, reciprocity, and conformity for voluntary contributions, based on a natural field experiment conducted at a national park in Costa Rica. Contributions made in public in front of the solicitor are 25% higher than contributions made in private. Giving subjects a small gift before requesting a contribution increases the likelihood of a positive contribution. At the same time, the conditional contribution decreases. The total effect of giving a gift is positive but small, and taking the cost of the gift into account, it is far from profitable. When the subjects are told that the typical contribution of others is $2 (a small contribution), the probability of a contribution increases and the conditional contribution decreases, compared with providing no reference information. Providing a high reference level ($10) increases the conditional contributions. Overall, the total effects have the expected signs, although the magnitudes are smaller than what one might have expected based on existing evidence from laboratory experiments.
Göteborg University, School of Business, Economics and Law
Department of Economics
natural field experiment
Working Papers in Economics