Altruistic Self-Concept Mediates the Effects of Personality Traits on Volunteering: Evidence from an Online Experiment

43 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2020

See all articles by C. Monica Capra

C. Monica Capra

Claremont Graduate University

Bing Jiang

Department of Economics and Business, Virginia Military Institute

Yuxin Su

Claremont Graduate University

Date Written: February 19, 2020

Abstract

The way we describe and evaluate ourselves or self-concept has a significant effect on our behaviors. An individual who describes herself as altruistic is more likely to engage in helpful behaviors than someone who does not possess such self-concept. Self-concept, in turn, is influenced by personality. In this paper, we propose that self-concept mediates the effects of personality on volunteering. We tested this idea experimentally with Amazon Mechanical Turk workers. In our experiment, participants answered a series of questionnaires, including the Big Five personality test and attitudinal questions that we used to construct an index representing altruistic self-concept. Participants were also given the option to make and keep a promise to volunteer by donating time and effort to a charity. Our results show that agreeableness has a strong influence on volunteering through its effect on altruistic self-concept.

Keywords: Charitable Donations, Volunteering, Personality, Self-concept, Experiments

JEL Classification: C9, D9, D64, J24

Suggested Citation

Capra, C. Monica and Jiang, Bing and Su, Yuxin, Altruistic Self-Concept Mediates the Effects of Personality Traits on Volunteering: Evidence from an Online Experiment (February 19, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3520990 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3520990

C. Monica Capra (Contact Author)

Claremont Graduate University ( email )

170 E. Tenth Street
Claremont, CA 91711
United States

Bing Jiang

Department of Economics and Business, Virginia Military Institute ( email )

Virginia Military Institute
335 Scott Shipp Hall
Lexington, VA 24450
United States
540-464-7451 (Phone)
540-464-7005 (Fax)

Yuxin Su

Claremont Graduate University ( email )

1425 N College Ave
Apt 308
Claremont, CA 91711
United States
3104380380 (Phone)

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