Moral Evaluations of Time Versus Money Donations
10 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2019
Date Written: February 25, 2019
Prosocial acts often take the form of time- or money-donations. Do third-parties differ in how they evaluate these different kinds of donations? Two studies show that time-donations are viewed as more praiseworthy than money-donations, even when the resource investment is comparable. We provide evidence that this moral preference occurs because time-donations are seen as signaling greater emotional investment in the cause and therefore better moral character. Moreover, time- donations are viewed as more praiseworthy even though people actually believe that they are less effective than money donations. Overall, we take these results to support theories of prosociality that place character- or reputation-signaling at a key motivator of moral behavior. These results have implications for social movements, such as effective altruism, that seek to maximize the social benefit of altruistic acts.
Keywords: prosocial behavior, altruism, moral psychology, reputation, judgment and decision-making
JEL Classification: D03, D1, D3, D64, D8, H4, I3, M3, O1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation