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The University of Southampton
EconomicsPart of Economic, Social and Political Science

Research project: An Investigation into the Sources and Implications of Pro-social Behaviour - Dormant

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The aim of this project is to identify and quantify the sources of pro-social motivation in the workplace, accounting for the self-selection of workers into working environments that offer different opportunities to behave pro-socially.

The literature has considered two alternative views of altruism - action-oriented altruism in which the worker derives direct non-pecuniary benefits from the act of contributing to a cause he/she cares about and output-oriented altruism where the worker is concerned about the actual impact of his/her actions on the well-being of others.

These two ways of modelling altruism have different implications, for instance for the delivery of public services. While these two approaches are useful in deriving theoretical insights as to the implications of such social preferences because in reality it is likely that both types of motivation are at play - their relative importance has not been assessed.

The aim of this project is to disentangle the two sources of pro-social motivation conducting a field experiment where subjects provide real effort and are offered a choice between different combinations of pecuniary and non-pecuniary compensation. The issue of whether the use of pecuniary incentives may lead to a reduction of workers' altruistically motivated effort will also be addressed.

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