Friends of Victims: Personal Experience and Prosocial Behavior
39 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2005
Date Written: October 2006
Why do different people give to different causes? We argue that the sympathy inherent to a close relationship with a victim extends to other victims, leading benefactors to prefer charities that help those suffering from the misfortunes that have affected their friends and loved ones. Study 1, a survey, shows that self-reported sympathy towards victims in scenarios is greater among friends of victims. Studies 2 and 3 are experiments that control for information, and thus enable us to rule out the alternative explanation that any effect is driven by the information advantage possessed by friends of victims. Study 2, confirms that the effect of friendship with a victim on sympathy is causal and that it facilitates prosocial behavior. Study 3 shows that the effect is stronger among those in a communal relationship with a victim, as compared to those in an exchange relationship.
Keywords: Social preferences, dictator game, charitable giving, volunteering, survey data, personal experience
JEL Classification: C91, C92, D64, L31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation