Accepting Inequality Deters Responsibility: How Power Distance Decreases Charitable Behavior

70 Pages Posted: 19 May 2014

See all articles by Karen Page Winterich

Karen Page Winterich

Pennsylvania State University - Mary Jean and Frank P. Smeal College of Business Administration

Yinlong Zhang

University of Texas at San Antonio

Date Written: January 17, 2014

Abstract

Could power distance, which is the extent that inequality is expected and accepted, explain why some countries and consumers are more likely to engage in prosocial behavior, including donations of both money and time? This research proposes higher power distance results in weaker perceptions of responsibility to aid others, which decreases charitable behavior. Both correlational and causal evidence is provided in a series of five studies that examine country-level power distance as well as individual and temporarily salient power distance belief. Consistent with the mediating role of perceived responsibility, results reveal uncontrollable needs and communal relationship norms are boundary conditions that overcome the negative effect of power distance on charitable behavior. These results explain differences in charitable giving across cultures, and provide implications for non-profit organizations soliciting donations.

Keywords: donations, non-profit, culture, power distance, communal, control, equality

Suggested Citation

Winterich, Karen Page and Zhang, Yinlong, Accepting Inequality Deters Responsibility: How Power Distance Decreases Charitable Behavior (January 17, 2014). Journal of Consumer Research, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2438280

Karen Page Winterich (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University - Mary Jean and Frank P. Smeal College of Business Administration ( email )

University Park, PA 16802
United States

Yinlong Zhang

University of Texas at San Antonio ( email )

One UTSA Circle
San Antonio, TX 78249
United States

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