In America, where categorization becomes easy because there are two main political parties, it is well-known that right-wing people donate more to charity. This makes sense; people who believe in smaller government should be willing to help their fellow man rather than relying on government to tax and redistribute wealth. Yet right-wing people also espouse individual initiative, so why donate more to charity when recipients have not earned it?
A new paper in the Journal of Consumer Research explains this seeming inconsistency and suggests that moral identity decreases donations when recipients are deemed to be responsible for their plight.
Across four studies, the authors asked for donations to various charities benefiting people who donors may believe are responsible for their current situation (for example, a community health center that treats people who cannot hold a steady job due to drug or alcohol use). Results showed that not all study participants perceived making a donation to these particular types of charities as moral. Participants who placed a high importance on their own moral identity indicated they were less likely to donate money.
However, when asked to recall their own past immoral behavior, study participants could more easily take the perspective of recipients receiving assistance from the charities and felt higher levels of empathy. As a result, the likelihood of monetary donations from these participants increased.
“Our research examines how moral values of empathy and justice have distinct influences on people when they are asked to make donations benefiting others whose choices have led them to an unfortunate place in life,” write authors Saerom Lee (University of Texas at San Antonio), Karen Page Winterich (Pennsylvania State University), and William T. Ross Jr. (University of Connecticut).
“Our results can help non-profits be more cautious when describing the causes and beneficiaries they are supporting. Donation appeals should specify or imply low responsibility of the charity recipients or, alternatively, seek to elicit empathy to increase donations,” the authors conclude. “Rather than appealing to a broader spectrum of moral values, messages should focus on the moral values of empathy and benevolence.”
Citation: Saerom Lee, Karen Page Winterich, and William T. Ross Jr. “I'm Moral, but I Won't Help You: The Distinct Roles of Empathy and Justice in Donations.” Journal of Consumer Research: October 2014.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Women,This Is Your Brain On Junk Food
- The Chicxulub Meteorite Killed The Dinosaurs But Made Forests Great
- ATLAS Higgs Challenge Results
- Are E-Cigarettes Less Harmful? Yes And No
- Falling Down: Without Enough Gravity, It's Hard For Astronauts To Tell Which Way Is Up
- Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Reset To Pristine State
- Emotion Recognition Software
- "The problem is that the drugs work. A friend of mine was a professional cyclist who once said to..."
- "Correction to my previous post. It should say The dose makes the poison. http://learn.caim.yale..."
- "I understand what you're saying. Here's where my thinking differs. I don't see a line between what..."
- "Our Nrf2 Activator has 8 patents and is proven to reduce human cellular oxidative stress (aging)..."
- "The kind that can be done via natural cross breeding methods now through natural life cycles and..."
- Sharks' skin has teeth in the fight against hospital superbugs
- Violent origins of disc galaxies probed by ALMA
- Global shift away from cars saves US$100 trillion, eliminates 1,700 MT of CO2 pollution
- 'Smart material' chin strap harvests energy from chewing
- World Alzheimer Report 2014 reveals persuasive evidence for dementia risk reduction