Gamble for the needy! Does identifiability enhances donation?

Marc Wyszynski*, Adele Diederich, Ilana Ritov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


To investigate how neediness and identifiability of a recipient influence the willingness of a donor to invest resources in charity-like lotteries we propose a new game, called 'need game'. Similar to the dictator game, the need game includes two players, one active player (the donor or dictator) and one passive player (the recipient). Both players require a minimum need (ND and NR), expressed in terms of points. The donor is endowed with KD points and must retain at least ND points, i.e., the need, with ND KD, at the end of the game with n rounds. The recipient starts with KR points and must end the game with at least NR points, i.e., the need, with KR NR KD. The donor is asked to choose one of three different amounts from KD to place a bet on a lottery. If won, the gain is added to the endowment. If lost, the recipient receives the points. The recipient is paid only when his/her need threshold is obtained; likewise the donor gets paid only when his/her need threshold is maintained. The main focus here is on need of both players (ND = NR = 2, 200, and ND = NR = 0 serving as baseline control) and the identifiability of the recipient (no information, described by text and picture, and physical presence). We probe whether the amount invested by the donor depends on need and identifiability of the recipient. In addition, we include the framing of the game as gain or loss, different probabilities to win/lose, and different time limits as covariates. We found that each of these factors can play a role when investing in charity-like lotteries.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere0234336
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6 June
StatePublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Wyszynski et al.


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