The Science of Giving
Wednesday, 7th June 2000 at 1:06 pm
Here’s something to ponder. A team of Swiss evolutionary biologists have conducted an experiment that demonstrates the key role that public recognition plays in motivating people to give.
The results of their study were published earlier this month in Science magazine.
The scientists developed a game in which each player had to decide how much money he or she wished to donate to other players. But none of the players knew the others’ identities so they could not set up a direct exchange of money or favour gifts to players who had helped them.
The participants were only given an ‘image’ score reflecting each persons reputation and status.
The study found that players were most likely to give to those who had been generous themselves and they withheld money from those whose scores showed they had a reputation for stinginess!