What motivates people to contribute to the public good on a voluntary basis?
Our study looks at whether sharing information about how others have volunteered helps to improve volunteering.
The study builds on existing knowledge about what motivates people to contribute to the public good on a voluntary basis, focusing on how student volunteers and others who give time in their community, including those who give time to represent their community in parish councils, respond to information about the contributions of others. We are very interested in both adding to academic knowledge about voluntarily contributing to the community and informing policy and practice, so our results will be fed back to the relevant organisations we are working with as well as to policy-makers more generally.
Our approach uses randomised control trials in a field setting. Experiments offer a high standard of internal validity. Although there has been a great deal of work on social dilemmas in the laboratory context, the field setting generates high external validity because the experiments are conducted in a real world context that would indicate whether an intervention works in practice and to what degree. The researchers are part of a new but growing political science and public policy research community addressing these issues through their active participation in the Experiments in Government and Politics
(EGAP) group, the University of Manchester Experiments Research Network
, the APSA group on Experimental Research
and the York Trials Unit
You can read a conference paper
outlining our particular interests in contributions to the public good.