Theory and Decision

, Volume 79, Issue 3, pp 479–492 | Cite as

Can priming cooperation increase public good contributions?

  • Michalis Drouvelis
  • Robert Metcalfe
  • Nattavudh PowdthaveeEmail author


We investigate the effect of priming on pro-social behaviour in a setting where there is a clear financial incentive to free ride. By activating the concept of cooperation among randomly selected individuals, we explore whether it is possible to positively influence people’s voluntary contributions to the public good. Our findings indicate that cooperative priming increases contributions in a one-shot public goods game from approximately 25–36 % compared with the non-primed group. The results call for further explorations of the role of priming in economic behaviours in general.


Priming Free riding Public goods experiments 



We would like to thank Arno Riedl, two anonymous reviewers, Vincent Crawford, Rachel Croson, Paul Dolan, John Hey, Andrew Oswald and Ivo Vlaev for their comments. Financial support from the University of York is gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (docx 104 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michalis Drouvelis
    • 1
  • Robert Metcalfe
    • 2
  • Nattavudh Powdthavee
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK
  2. 2.University of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  3. 3.CEP, London School of Economics and Political Science, MIAESRUniversity of MelbourneLondonUK

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