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

See all articles by Jennifer Savary

Jennifer Savary

University of Arizona

Kelly Goldsmith

Vanderbilt University - Marketing

Ravi Dhar

Yale School of Management - International Center for Finance

Date Written: June 21, 2014

Abstract

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

Savary, Jennifer and Goldsmith, Kelly and Dhar, Ravi, Giving Against the Odds: When Tempting Alternatives Increase Willingness to Donate (June 21, 2014). Savary, Goldsmith and Dhar (2014). Giving Against the Odds: When Tempting Alternatives Increase Willingness to Donate. Forthcoming.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2277749 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2277749

Jennifer Savary

University of Arizona ( email )

Marketing Department
Eller College of Management
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States

Kelly Goldsmith (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Marketing ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Ravi Dhar

Yale School of Management - International Center for Finance ( email )

Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

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