Altruistic behavior and habit formation

Harvey S. Rosen, Stephen T. Sims

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


This article examines whether altruistic behavior is habit forming. The basic premise is that if engaging in altruistic behavior when young is a good predictor of such behavior in adulthood, then this is consistent with the notion that altruistic behavior is habit forming. Using U.S. data, we examine donations of both money and time and find that engaging in charitable behavior when young is a strong predictor of adult altruistic behavior, with all other things equal. A major issue in the interpretation of this result is that the correlation between youthful and adult altruistic behavior may be due to some third variable that affects both. Although it is impossible to rule out such a possibility, we are able to control for family influences that likely could affect lifetime attitudes toward altruism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-253
Number of pages19
JournalNonprofit Management and Leadership
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management


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