CID Research Fellow and Graduate Student Working Paper No. 44

February 2010

Social Norms and Motivation Crowding in Environmental Protection: Evidence From a (Lab) Field Experiment

Giovanna d’Adda

A publication of CID's Sustainability Science Program.


This paper examines social image and motivation crowding effects as drivers of pro-social behaviour for environmental conservation. A laboratory field experiment, centred around a reforestation project in the Bolivian Andes, is used to reproduce the trade-off between individual and social benefits in natural resource use and test the mechanisms sustaining pro-social behaviour for environmental conservation. The results show the absence of social norms specific to environmental protection in the setting under study. They also suggest that extrinsic incentives, even if non-monetary in nature, may have heterogeneous effects on intrinsic motivation for pro-social behaviour through their effect on reputation and self-image. Dyadic regression results, exploiting variation in the type of relationship between players and in the public nature of the decision, are consistent with social image being a motive behind experimental choices.

Keywords: social norms, motivation crowding, common pool resources, social image, dyadic data analysis, experimental economics, field experiment

JEL codes: C93, D64, D71, Q23, Q24, Q25

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