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A Neuroeconomic Perspective on Charitable Giving

14 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2011  

David V. Yokum

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law; University of Arizona - College of Science

Filippo Rossi

University of Arizona - College of Science

Date Written: July 10, 2009

Abstract

Psychologists and economists, particularly those assuming that people are rational egoists, have struggled to understand the causes of voluntary donation for decades. Why would a person decide to sacrifice part of his or her material payoff in order to increase the well being of others? In the first part of this paper, we outline a core set of possible motivations, and then consider how those motivations can be used to construct behavioral models that can also be tested in terms of what we know about brain function. We emphasize the role of otherÔÇÉregarding preferences and argue that there are moral judgments, independent of any consideration of payoffs, that partially determine when and to whom such preferences exist. In the second part of the paper, we argue that a neuroeconomic perspective can help understand charitable giving, and then discuss recent neuroimaging studies that demonstrate this potential.

Keywords: Moral psychology, Neuroeconomics, Charitable giving

Suggested Citation

Yokum, David V. and Rossi, Filippo, A Neuroeconomic Perspective on Charitable Giving (July 10, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1950345 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1950345

David V. Yokum (Contact Author)

University of Arizona - College of Science ( email )

1040 E. Fourth Street
Tucson, AZ 85721-0077
United States

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States

Filippo Rossi

University of Arizona - College of Science ( email )

1040 E. Fourth Street
Tucson, AZ 85721-0077
United States

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