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?
- Random Thoughts Of A Physicist In Honeymoon
- Climate Change Made The Sahara Green - Then Took It Away Again
- It's Been Another Record Year For Agriculture - When Do Climate Change Forecasts Come True?
- Sitting Linked To Premature Aging - And Hopefully Skepticism
- Anomaly! Book Of The Week At Times Higher Education
- How Viruses Leave Messages For Descendants On How To 'Infect'
- Scientists For Trump In Spite Of Vaccine Autism And Climate Comments
- "I don't know why my comment's formatting was lost in the transmission, so that it is now one big..."
- "“If you don't use probabilities then how else do you do it? At any rate that's not a criticism..."
- "Tomasso, Congratulations, may you enjoy a long and happy life together with Kalliopi! Best regards..."
- "Found another one : http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/545975/end-of-the-world-Gods-vengeance..."
- "Thanks :). Actually there are so many fake doomsday red top tabloid stories that I tend to wait..."
- Nexium: The Dark Side Of Pharma
- Media Think World of Science and Health Will End on Inauguration Day 2017
- Timeline of New Year's Resolutions
- MRI May Help 27% Of Suspected Prostate Cancer Patients Avoid Biopsies
- McKesson Fined $150 Million as they contribute to opioid crisis - Too Big to Punish
- Are Science Journals Politically Biased? Editor-in-Chief of ACS Journal Refuses to Discuss Editorial Policy