Laboratory researchers in economics assiduously protect the confidentiality of subjects. Why? Presumably because they fear that the social consequences of identifying subjects and their choices would significantly alter the economic incentives of the game. But these may be the same social effects that institutions, like charitable fund-raising, are manipulating to help overcome free riding and to promote economic efficiency. We present an experiment that unmasks subjects in a systematic and controlled way. We show that, as intuition suggests, identifying subjects has significant effects. Surprisingly, we found that two supplemental conditions meant to mimic common fund-raising practices actually had the most dramatic influences on behavior. © 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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