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People want to be seen helping the climate

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The players - 156 students from Hamburg - made their contributions to the advertisement pool either in public or, every second round, anonymously. Between rounds of this experiment, another game was played, in which it was important to have a good "reputation". Each player was asked if he wanted to give money to another player. If yes, the receiver would get double the amount the donor pledged. Beforehand, the donor and all the other players were informed how much the receiver paid during non-anonymous climate rounds and reputation rounds. In this way, their contribution to climate preservation, and their donations to people who contributed to the climate pool, could be rewarded. Each second group of six players also received scientific information about the causes and consequences of climate change.

The results surprised the researchers. All the players donated to the advertisement. The largest donors were players informed about climate change who could publicly contribute to the pool (see image). In the reputation rounds, donors preferred to give to receivers that had previously given to the climate pool. Very little was contributed to the pool anonymously. Thus, there is a pay off for people who invest in climate preservation when doing so also improves their reputation: "Do good when others can see it." Being scientifically informed also had a significant effect on subjects' readiness to invest in climate maintenance, either publicly or anonymously.

The scientists advise politicians to develop better strategies to publicise people's investments in climate preservation.


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Contact: Prof. Manfred Milinski
milinski@mpil-ploen.mpg.de
49-452-276-3254
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
3-Mar-2006


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