UBC Undergraduate Research

Nudging motivations to donate to UBC’s food insecurity program Chandra, Simone; Kay, Nick; Phillips, Kate; Smith, Elizabeth; Tao, Justin


Can food-secure students be nudged to “pay it forward” at a three-tier pricing café, using a poster reflecting research on the motivations behind charitable behavior? We conducted two studies examining the effect of a poster in nudging food secure students to pay an extra $5 to support food insecure students at the UBC Foooood Café. In Study 1, sales data for each pricing option at the café ($5/$10/$15) was analyzed to see if $15-option sales would increase after the poster was displayed. In Study 2, we used an online survey in which we manipulated whether participants were shown the poster, to see if the poster would increase $15 choices as well as motivations to donate. We also measured participants’ food-security to see how motivations to donate and price choices differed by food insecurity. In both studies, the poster did not have the desired effect, with $15 purchases decreasing in Study 1. However, our exploratory analyses found that food secure and insecure participants differ in their motivations to donate and in their price choices. These results may provide important insight into the cafe’s sustainability, boosting donations, and the efficacy of the pay-it-forward business model. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International