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Levels of Information and Contributions to Public Goods

Jane Sell and Rick K. Wilson
Social Forces
Vol. 70, No. 1 (Sep., 1991), pp. 107-124
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2580064
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2580064
Page Count: 18
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Levels of Information and Contributions to Public Goods
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Abstract

The provision of public goods is a social dilemma in which individuals must decide whether to contribute to the group or not to contribute and therefore free ride. We posit that if individuals have information about how each of the other group members has contributed, free riding will occur less frequently than if they do not have this information. If individuals know how others have contributed, they are able to employ trigger strategies. Three experimental treatments are used to test our predictions: (1) no information about other members' contributions, (2) aggregated information about other members' contributions, and (3) individualized information about each member's contribution. We find that contributions to a public good in the individualized information condition are greater than contributions in the other two conditions. However, contribution levels for no information and aggregated information do not differ.

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