Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Appears in Collections:Economics Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Extrinsic rewards and crowding-out of prosocial behaviour
Author(s): Wollbrant, Conny
Knutsson, Mikael
Martinsson, Peter
Contact Email:
Keywords: Economics
Environmental studies
Human behaviour
Issue Date: Jun-2022
Date Deposited: 7-Jan-2022
Citation: Wollbrant C, Knutsson M & Martinsson P (2022) Extrinsic rewards and crowding-out of prosocial behaviour. Nature Human Behaviour, 6, pp. 774-781.
Abstract: The law of supply is a fundamental principle of economics and states that any increase in price will increase the quantity supplied. In the case of prosocial behaviour, however, increasing rewards have reduced supply, posing a challenge to standard economic theory. Attempts to study such "crowding-out" have been limited by their small scale and inherent difficulties posed by calibration of experimental tests. We analyse a large-scale natural experiment in the environmental domain consisting of 20,370 independent observations derived from aggregation of approximately 27 million individual decisions. We find that aggregate supply of prosocial behaviour is “s-shaped”, demonstrating how attempts to increase prosocial behaviour using monetary rewards can be counter-productive. Our study shows that results derived from a small set of data points collected from an underlying s-shaped data-generating process is vulnerable to misinterpretation, and that proxy measures of intrinsic motivation ought to be collected to ensure theoretical advance.
DOI Link: 10.1038/s41562-022-01293-y
Rights: This item has been embargoed for a period. During the embargo please use the Request a Copy feature at the foot of the Repository record to request a copy directly from the author. You can only request a copy if you wish to use this work for your own research or private study. This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at:

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
NHB-RNR3 manuscript_LIBRARY.pdfFulltext - Accepted Version400.51 kBAdobe PDFUnder Embargo until 2022-09-18    Request a copy

Note: If any of the files in this item are currently embargoed, you can request a copy directly from the author by clicking the padlock icon above. However, this facility is dependent on the depositor still being contactable at their original email address.

This item is protected by original copyright

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

The metadata of the records in the Repository are available under the CC0 public domain dedication: No Rights Reserved

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.