Understanding the Motivations for Socially Responsible Investing: A Field Experiment

By letting more than 3,000 clients of financial institutions play an incentivized investment game, we provide field experimental evidence on the determinants of socially responsible investment decisions. Our results show a positive link between personal values, beliefs, and preferences for socially responsible investments. To better understand their investment decisions, we expose participants to four experimental manipulations. Our results suggest that how responsible funds are advertised substantially influences participants’ decisions. When individuals are able to donate to a charity prior to their investment decision, they are less likely to invest responsibly. We find that public image concerns are not an important determinant of socially responsible investments. Endorsements through ethical labels can trigger more  responsible investments, but are necessary only for individuals with low beliefs in the effectiveness of social responsibility. Further, a restricted investment universe  positively affects socially responsible investment allocations.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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