Exalted Purchases or Tainted Donations? Self-Signaling and the Evaluation of Charitable Incentives
Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2020
53 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2020
Date Written: January 7, 2020
It is common for charities to bundle donation requests with some type of product, such as a tote bag, pen, or coffee mug. The current studies find that people are more likely to donate when those bundles are framed as “charitable purchases” versus “donations with a gift.” We show that this effect arises because consumers want to avoid the negative self-signal associated with receiving a gift in exchange for donating. Five experiments provide evidence for the role of self-signaling, identify key moderators of the framing effect, and demonstrate the downstream consequences for people’s likelihood of donating in the future. More broadly, the current studies lend further evidence to the role of self-signaling in charitable giving and provide greater clarity regarding how and when different donation solicitation techniques may be most effective.
Keywords: charitable giving, donations, gifts, altruism, crowding out, self-interest, framing effects, authenticity, self-signaling
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