This PhD project explores how cross-societal factors (such as beliefs, values and social norms shared by a cultural group) influence prosocial behavior. Below you can find an overview of the first of several subprojects within this general framework.

(1) Social Norms Explain the Inconsistent Effects of Incentives on Prosocial Behavior

Incentives have surprisingly inconsistent effects when it comes to encouraging people to behave prosocially. That is, the effects of incentives vary across incentive types, private versus public settings and across countries. Previous theoretical accounts have explained these phenomena by postulating an additive effect of intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, and reputational motivation. We build on these theories, but introduce a key theoretical modification: Reputational motivation depends on social norms. We empirically test our model on the real-world prosocial behavior of blood donation using a comparative dataset comprising representative samples from 28 European countries. We find that social norms can account for the varying effects of financial and time incentives on donation behavior across countries. That is, incentives were associated with higher levels of prosociality when social norms regarding the incentive were more positive. The results indicate that social norms regarding incentives play an important role in determining the effect of incentives on prosocial behavior.

If you want to learn more about this project, you can find it on the Open Science Framework and on GitHub. A preprint is coming soon!