What factors promote or hinder volunteering within organizations and groups? This paper simultaneously explores the impact of individual, contextual, and sociocultural variables on decision making in a special type of social dilemma: the volunteer's dilemma game (VDG). The VDG provides a controlled experimental method for studying volunteering behaviors in an anonymous interactive environment. We developed six variations of the VDG and administered them to economics students in five different cultures (Ntotal = 603). Among other things, these VDGs varied whether the potential benefits of volunteering were certain or uncertain. Although the overall level of volunteering did not vary substantially across most cultural groups, we found that culture interacted with the size and (un)certainty of the benefits associated with volunteering, to influence volunteering decisions. We also found that religiosity (but not religious affiliation per se) increases volunteering and that men are less likely to volunteer when the returns to doing so are certain. These results extend our knowledge of behaviors in the VDG, and their potential drivers, with clear implications for understanding how culture, individual characteristics, and context jointly influence prosocial behavior and coordination.
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© 2019 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
- volunteer's dilemma