While much prosocial behavior has traditionally taken place in non-market contexts, such as families, clans, and social associations, it is in increasingly brought into the market context. For example, companies increasingly promote their products and services by engaging in charitable giving and policy makers increasingly push for the implementation of market-driven prosocial initiatives. However, this trend has occurred without being informed by evidence on how the market influences individuals’ engagement in prosocial behavior. Using a public goods game that simulates a market and a non-market context, we analyze prosocial behavior and its psychological underpinnings across these two contexts. First, we find that prosocial behavior occurs at lower levels in markets than non-markets. Second, we find that individuals’ beliefs about prosocial norms are more important for prosocial behavior in markets than non-markets, while the opposite is true for their autonomous motivation towards prosocial behavior. This suggests that decision-makers need to adjust the means to foster prosocial behavior, depending on the institutional context deemed appropriate for specific prosocial behaviors.
Fosgaard, M. R., Fosgaard, T. R., & Foss, N. J. (2017). Consumer or Citizen? Prosocial Behaviors in Markets and Non-markets. Social Choice and Welfare, 49(2), 231–253. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00355-017-1058-4