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Lab of Misfits
Science of Giving

This is part of the Human perceptionprogramme



Experiment 1

During Lates night in October 2011, Lab of Misfits ran a mass participation experiment in which we investigated the difference between 'public' and 'private' donations.

We took 405 donations, which people could choose to make either publicly (a photograph of the donor, and the amount they donated, was projected above the bar) or privately (the donation was passed through a closed curtain).

Before the experiment, we predicted that public donations would be all about grandstanding to the crowd, in other words that public donations would be higher than private. This was true, but only in the case of men: the public donations made by men were 14% higher than those made privately. There was no difference in the public/private donations made by women. (This finding inspired the second experiment, 'Altruism and Attractiveness', run in January 2012.)

Here, though, is a summary of the most significant findings from Experiment 1:

Private versus public
• Of the 405 donations, there were more private donations (223, or 55%) than public donations (182, or 45%).
• The overall average donation made by a public donor was 8% higher than the average donation made by a private donor.

• Of the 405 donors, 219 were female compared with 183 males. (3 subjects did not provide a gender.)
• The public/private choice didn't affect the donation size for females. 
• Public vs Private DID affect males, with public donations being 14% higher.
• The average male donation (£1.72) was higher than the female average (£1.53).

The average donation made against the average annual income for each age band suggests that 18-24 year olds were more generous, despite their lower income, compared with 44-58 year olds.

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Donor Mosaic

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