DP17798 Gender differences in effects of goal-setting: Evidence from a fundraising field experiment
We report findings from an intervention that presented a randomly selected group of fundraisers with varying default goal values. There is a striking gender difference in the effect of the intervention: Male fundraisers respond to higher default values by raising more funds; female fundraisers do not. The explanation is not that there is a gender difference in default effects on the setting of goals: high default values do not have a strong countervailing (negative) effect on goal-setting for female fundraisers. Instead, there is a gender difference in the causal effect of different value goals on funds raised: Setting higher goals causes male fundraisers to raise more money, but (counterintuitively) setting low goals causes them to raise less money than no goal. By contrast, setting low goals causes female fundraisers to raise more money than no goal, but (counterintuitively) they do not raise more money if they set a high goal. Gender differences in beliefs, specifically optimism and grit, are plausible explanations for these findings.