Experimental Economics

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 1–23 | Cite as

Temporal dynamics of pro-social behavior: an experimental analysis

  • Jan SchmitzEmail author
Original Paper


Individuals have opportunities to behave pro-socially at different points in time. This study investigates the interdependence between temporarily separated good deeds and their effect on individual pro-social behavior. In a multi-session laboratory experiment, subjects play a donation dictator game. The first group of subjects runs through two sessions on the same day. For the second group, there is a time-lag of one week between sessions. In both treatments, subjects decrease their donation decision in the second session. Spillover effects of pro-social behavior, however, decrease over time as the reduction in donations is smaller for subjects with larger time-lag between decisions.


Charitable giving Social preferences Experimental economics Behavioral spillovers 

JEL Classifications

C91 D03 H41 



I thank the editor, David Cooper, and three anonymous referees for helpful comments and suggestions. I am further grateful to Philipp Doerrenberg, Claus Ghesla, Ayelet Gneezy, Manuel Grieder, Gianluca Grimalda, Manfred Holler, Deborah Kistler, Andreas Lange, Thomas Scheuerle, Renate Schubert, Karl Schumacher, Marcel Stadelmann, Christian Zehnder, attendants of the 2012 IMEBE conference in Castellon, and the attendants of the 2012 ESA conference in New York for their support and helpful comments. Funding by the WISO Graduate School of the University of Hamburg and by the German Research Foundadion (DFG) is acknowledged.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Humanities, Social, and Political Science, Chair of EconomicsSwiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH)ZürichSwitzerland

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