Friends of Victims: Personal Experience and Prosocial Behavior

39 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2005

See all articles by Deborah A. Small

Deborah A. Small

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department; Carnegie Mellon University

Uri Simonsohn

Ramon Llull University - ESADE Business School

Date Written: October 2006

Abstract

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

Small, Deborah A. and Simonsohn, Uri, Friends of Victims: Personal Experience and Prosocial Behavior (October 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=850108 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.850108

Deborah A. Small

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department ( email )

700 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6340
United States

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Uri Simonsohn (Contact Author)

Ramon Llull University - ESADE Business School ( email )

Avinguda de la Torre Blanca, 59
Sant Cugat del Vall├Ęs, 08172
Spain

HOME PAGE: http://urisohn.com

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