Giving Against the Odds: When Tempting Alternatives Increase Willingness to Donate
Savary, Goldsmith and Dhar (2014). Giving Against the Odds: When Tempting Alternatives Increase Willingness to Donate. Forthcoming.
46 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2013 Last revised: 21 Jun 2014
Date Written: June 21, 2014
The authors examine how a reference to an unrelated product in the choice context impacts consumers’ likelihood of donating to charity. Building on research on self-signaling, the authors predict that consumers are more likely to give when the donation appeal references a hedonic product, as compared to when a utilitarian product is referenced or when no comparison is provided. They posit that this occurs because referencing a hedonic product during a charitable appeal changes the self-attributions, or self-signaling utility, associated with the choice to donate. A series of hypothetical and real choice experiments demonstrate the predicted effect, and show that the increase in donation rates occurs because the self-attributions signaled by a choice not to donate are more negative in the context of a hedonic reference product. Finally, consistent with these experimental findings, a field experiment shows that referencing a hedonic product during a charitable appeal increases real donation rates in a non-laboratory setting. The authors discuss theoretical implications for both consumer decision making and the self-signaling motives behind prosocial choice.
Keywords: Self-signaling, charitable donation, context effects, prosocial behavior, choice
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation