Research finds that engaging in prosocial behavior has many positive psychological outcomes (e.g., enhanced well-being, optimism, perceived control, and a boost in self-concept), and research on monetary risk-taking reveals these psychological outcomes are associated with increased risk-taking. Merging these findings, we propose that when people's volunteering behavior is made salient in their minds, they take more monetary risks. Making research participants’ volunteering behavior salient by having them recall an act of prior volunteering (studies 1 and 3), choosing whether to volunteer (study 2), or choosing one of two volunteering activities (study 4), four experiments (and a fifth reported in the Appendix S2) reveal increased risk-taking across several monetary-risk outcomes (incentive-compatible gambles, allocation of a windfall gain, and a behavioral risk-taking measure involving escalating risk). Lastly, when the decision maker attributes a decision to volunteer to an external source, the effect of salient volunteering on monetary risk-taking attenuates.
- Prosocial behavior