Affective Motivations to Help Others: A Two-Stage Model of Donation Decisions

Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, Forthcoming

30 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2010 Last revised: 6 Oct 2010

See all articles by Stephan Dickert

Stephan Dickert

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

Paul Slovic

Decision Research; University of Oregon - Department of Psychology

Namika Sagara

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

Emotional reactions are an important element in the motivation to help others. Our research examined the role of affective vs. deliberative information processing in the genesis and use of emotional reactions in decisions to provide financial aid to people in distress. In two studies, we investigated whether information processing mode influenced participants' donations, affective reactions, and the relationship between the two. Information processing was manipulated by a priming procedure and a cognitive load paradigm. Participants' empathic emotions were assessed by self-reported sympathy, compassion, and distress. Additionally, we measured how much better a donation would make participants feel and their anticipated regret for not donating, which were taken as indicators of their motivation to donate as a form of mood management. Results suggest that different mechanisms govern the initial decision do donate money (Stage 1) compared to later decisions on how much money to donate (Stage 2). Motivations for mood management were primarily predictive of donation decisions, whereas empathic feelings were predictive of the donation amount. The potentially disruptive effects of deliberative processing on pro-social behavior are discussed in light of a two-stage processing model of donations.

Suggested Citation

Dickert, Stephan and Slovic, Paul and Sagara, Namika, Affective Motivations to Help Others: A Two-Stage Model of Donation Decisions (2010). Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1686069

Stephan Dickert (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany

Paul Slovic

Decision Research ( email )

1201 Oak Street, Suite 200
Eugene, OR 97401
United States
541-485-2400 (Phone)
541-485-2403 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.decisionresearch.org

University of Oregon - Department of Psychology ( email )

Eugene, OR 97403
United States
541-485-2400 (Phone)

Namika Sagara

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States

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