Eager to Help Yet Reluctant to Give: How Pro-Social Effort and Pro-Social Choices Diverge
59 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2016
Date Written: July 1, 2014
Charity marketers face the challenge of understanding how pro-social decisions are made. Are all solicitations made equal? The authors found that a helping opportunity and a giving opportunity reveal different pro-social preferences. In a series of four studies, involving hypothetical and real pro-social opportunities, participants showed high willingness to help (i.e. exerted more task effort for a charitable cause than for themselves), as well as reluctance to give (i.e. the majority kept resources for themselves rather than giving to charity, when given a choice). The authors propose that the consideration of direct self-interest plays a key role in the observed discrepancy. When deliberate consideration of direct self-interest is activated, as in direct choices, it trumps other motives, resulting in more selfish behaviors. When the direct self-interest remains implicit, as in effort persistence, pro-social behaviors can be effectively driven by other indirectly beneficial motives, such as the pursuit of meaningfulness. These findings have important practical implications for how charitable organizations can convey their needs effectively and design persuasive marketing messages.
Keywords: pro-social behavior, helping, giving, self-interest, meaningfulness
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