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Penny for Your Preferences: Leveraging Self-Expression to Encourage Small Prosocial Gifts

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The “dueling preferences approach”—which frames prosocial giving (e.g., small donations and tips) as a choice between two options (e.g., summer vs. winter)—increases giving compared to a standard giving appeal. Dueling preferences boosts prosocial gifts by providing consumers with the opportunity to self-express valued identities or preferences. This approach is most effective at increasing giving (a) when you provide dueling options (vs. a single option), (b) when you choose expressive options, and (c) among target populations that particularly enjoy self-expression and/or in environments in which people crave self-expression.

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Penny for Your Preferences: Leveraging Self-Expression to Encourage Small Prosocial Gifts

  1. 1. Implementing the “dueling preferences” approach to increase prosocial giving From: Rifkin, Du, and Berger (2020)
  2. 2. Dueling Preferences Approach • Rather than simply asking people to tip (i.e., a standard appeal), some cafés have started to frame tipping as a choice between two options (e.g., cats vs. dogs)—“dueling preferences”. • Similarly, rather than simply asking people to donate, some charitable organizations have started to frame small donation opportunities as a choice between two options. From: Rifkin, Du, and Berger (2020)
  3. 3. From: Rifkin, Du, and Berger (2020)
  4. 4. Increases Tips A field experiment in a café revealed that, compared to a standard tip appeal, dueling preferences led more customers to tip (77.3% vs. 40.9%) and more than doubled the total amount of tips raised during a business day. Increases Donations An online experiment revealed that, compared to a standard donation appeal, dueling preferences led more people to donate (54.0% vs. 37.4%) and increased the total amount donated by 28%. From: Rifkin, Du, and Berger (2020) Does this approach increase giving? Evidence:
  5. 5. Why does this approach increase giving? • On average, people enjoy and have an intrinsic desire to express who they are. • Because people find self-expression fundamentally desirable, they are willing to pay to engage in it. • Thus, dueling preferences boosts prosocial gifts by providing consumers with the opportunity to self-express valued identities or preferences. From: Rifkin, Du, and Berger (2020) Dueling Preferences Approach (vs. standard appeal) Increased Opportunity for Self-Expression Increased Prosocial Giving (e.g., tips and small donations)
  6. 6. From: Rifkin, Du, and Berger (2020) Effective Implementation Choose expressive options • The presence of dueling options alone is not effective. The options have to be perceived as relevant and thus provide a valuable opportunity for expression. • For example, a chocolate vs. vanilla duel would be more effective than an A vs. B duel, because flavor preferences are perceived as more self-expressive than letter preferences. Consider your population and environment • Dueling options are most effective among target populations that particularly enjoy self-expression and/or in environments in which people crave self-expression. • For example, this approach would be most effective in cultures or neighborhoods that are particularly interested in self-expression.

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