How much would you like to pay? Trust, reciprocity and prosocial motivations in El trato

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Prosocial motivations and reciprocity are becoming increasingly important in social-science research. While laboratory experiments have challenged the assumption of universal selfishness, the external validity of these results has not been sufficiently tested in natural settings. In this article we examine the role of prosocial motivations and reciprocity in a Pay What You Want (PWYW) sales strategy, in which consumers voluntarily decide how much to pay for a product or service. This article empirically analyses the only PWYW example in Spain to date: the El trato ('The deal') campaign launched by the travel company Atrápalo, which offered different holiday packages under PWYW conditions in July 2009. Our analysis shows that, although the majority of the customers did not behave in a purely self-interested manner, they nonetheless did so in a much higher proportion than observed in similar studies. We present different hypotheses about the mechanisms that may explain these findings. Specifically, we highlight the role of two plausible explanations: the framing of the campaign and the attribution of 'hidden' preferences to Atrápalo by its customers, which undermined the interpretation of El trato as a trust game. © The Author(s) 2012.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-417
JournalSocial Science Information
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2012


  • behavioural economics
  • ciblage
  • compliance
  • échange social
  • économie comportementale
  • égocentrisme
  • framing
  • game theory
  • jeu de la confiance
  • self-interest
  • social exchange
  • théorie des jeux
  • trust game


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