Hey Look at Me: The Effect of Giving Circles on Giving

Last registered on April 12, 2017


Trial Information

General Information

Hey Look at Me: The Effect of Giving Circles on Giving
Initial registration date
April 12, 2017

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
April 12, 2017, 4:51 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.


Primary Investigator

Northwestern University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH)

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Theories abound for why individuals give to charity. We conduct a randomized field experiment with a Yale service club and find that the promise of public recognition increases giving. Some may claim that they give when offered public recognition in order to motivate others to give too, rather than for the more obvious expected private gain from increasing one's social standing. To tease apart these two theories, we also conduct a laboratory experiment with undergraduates. Our evidence is not consistent with individuals giving primarily because of a desire to influence the gifts of others. We conclude that social image motivations are a central determinant of giving when gifts are publicly recognized.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Karlan, Dean and Margaret A. McConnell. 2017. "Hey Look at Me: The Effect of Giving Circles on Giving." AEA RCT Registry. April 12. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.111-1.0
Former Citation
Karlan, Dean and Margaret A. McConnell. 2017. "Hey Look at Me: The Effect of Giving Circles on Giving." AEA RCT Registry. April 12. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/111/history/16524
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Level of donation
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
In the field experiment, prior donors were randomly assigned different phone calls that would mention different kinds of publicizing of future donations. In the lab experiment, people would be allocated money ($5) and then randomly were told that their decisions would be made public after 2 or 3 rounds of decision making.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
4168 in field, 94 in lab
Sample size: planned number of observations
4168 in field, 94 in lab
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1/4 for each of 4 arms in field, 1/2 for each of 2 arms in lab.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
October 31, 2010, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
4,168 individuals in the field experiment; 94 individuals in the lab experiment
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
1042 individuals in the control group; 3126 in one of the three treatment groups (equally divided) for the Field Experiment 47 individuals in the control group; 47 individuals in the treatment group for the Lab Experiment
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Karlan, Dean, and Margaret A. McConnell. "Hey look at me: The effect of giving circles on giving." Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 106 (2014): 402-412.

Reports & Other Materials