Donate Different: External and Internal Influences on Emotion-Based Donation Decisions

THE SCIENCE OF GIVING: EXPERIMENTAL APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF CHARITY, D.M. Oppenheimer & C.Y. Olivola, eds., Taylor & Francis, Forthcoming

23 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2010 Last revised: 3 Mar 2012

See all articles by Michaela Huber

Michaela Huber

University of Colorado at Boulder

Leaf Van Boven

University of Colorado Boulder

A. Peter McGraw

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Marketing

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

Emotions can influence charity donation decisions in ways that people and policy makers might prefer they did not. For example, our studies demonstrate that people who are exposed to a sequence of emotionally described humanitarian crises, donate more resources to crises that just happen to arouse immediate emotions - an “immediacy bias” that can lead to higher donations toward objectively less deadly crises. Two broad categories of interventions can mitigate influences of emotion on charitable donation decisions. Externally oriented interventions refer to cues, incentives, or decision structures imposed on people. For example, people who are exposed to a sequence of emotionally evocative descriptions of human suffering and who make charitable allocations after exposure to each cause are less inclined to exhibit an immediacy bias compared with people who make allocations after exposure to the entire sequence. Internally oriented interventions, in contrast, encourage mindful decision strategies aimed at reducing the immediacy bias in donation decisions. For example, inviting people to reflect on how much they think emotional and mortality information should influence allocation decisions decreases the influence of emotion and increases the influence of mortality information in donation decisions, particularly when people believe that mortality information should be given greater weight relative to emotional considerations. The distinction between externally versus internally oriented interventions has both theoretical implications for understanding how people monitor and correct emotional influences on their own decisions and practical implications for increasing the efficiency of charitable donations.

Suggested Citation

Huber, Michaela and Van Boven, Leaf and McGraw, A. Peter, Donate Different: External and Internal Influences on Emotion-Based Donation Decisions (2010). THE SCIENCE OF GIVING: EXPERIMENTAL APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF CHARITY, D.M. Oppenheimer & C.Y. Olivola, eds., Taylor & Francis, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1532587 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1532587

Michaela Huber

University of Colorado at Boulder

1070 Edinboro Drive
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

Leaf Van Boven (Contact Author)

University of Colorado Boulder ( email )

University of Colorado Boulder
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, 345 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
United States
303.735.5238 (Phone)
303.492.2967 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://psych.colorado.edu/~vanboven/

A. Peter McGraw

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Marketing ( email )

United States

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