Former US President George W. Bush accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Zuckerberg, and Kermit the Frog joined in. UK Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama paid to avoid it.Beyond the Ice Bucket Challenge
Paper When Should the Ask be a Nudge? The Effect of Default Amounts on Charitable Donations
How does setting a donation option as the default in a charitable appeal affect people's decisions? In eight studies, comprising 11,508 participants making 2,423 donation decisions in both experimental settings and a large-scale natural field experiment, the authors investigate the effect of “choice-option” defaults on the donation rate, average donation amount, and the resulting revenue. They find (1) a “scale-back” effect, in which low defaults reduce average donation amounts; (2) a “lower-bar” effect, in which defaulting a low amount increases donation rate; and (3) a “default-distraction” effect, in which introducing any defaults reduces the effect of other cues, such as positive charity information. Contrary to the view that setting defaults will backfire, defaults increased revenue in the field study. However, the findings suggest that defaults can sometimes be a “self-canceling” intervention, with countervailing effects of default option magnitude on decisions and resulting in no net effect on revenue. The authors discuss the implications of the findings for research on fundraising specifically, for choice architecture and behavioral interventions more generally, and for the use of “nudges” in policy decisions.
Published in: Journal of Marketing Research
- Authored by