Award Date

December 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Environmental and Public Affairs

First Committee Member

Jessica Word

Second Committee Member

Christopher Stream

Third Committee Member

Anna Lukemeyer

Fourth Committee Member

Michael Borer

Number of Pages



A random assignment experiment examined the effects of three expressions of gratitude on two prosocial behaviors: volunteering and making monetary donations to charitable organizations. The results indicated that two of the expressions of gratitude had a significant opposite effect on the two prosocial behaviors. Both a verbal thank-you speech and a hand written thank-you note, resulted in a significant reduction in the amount of pledged volunteer hours, while resulting in a significant increase in the amount of pledged charitable dollars. The third expression of gratitude, a ten dollar thank-you gift card, produced no significant findings for either prosocial behavior. The results of the experiment indicate that while volunteering and donating to charity are both prosocial behaviors, they each represent a different exchange relationship; volunteering, a social exchange and donating to charity, a market exchange. Each exchange is governed by a different set of norms and expectations. Violating these norms and expectations result in negative impacts on the prosocial behavior outcomes.


Donating; Experiment; Gratitude; Nonprofit Managment; Prosocial Behavior; Volunteering


Public Administration | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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