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In the "I" of the storm: Shared initials increase disaster donations

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  • Jesse Chandler
  • Tiffany M. Griffin
  • Nicholas Sorensen
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    Abstract

    People prefer their own initials to other letters, influencing preferences in many domains. The ``name letter effect'' (Nuttin, 1987) may not apply to negatively valenced targets if people are motivated to downplay or distance themselves from negative targets associated with the self, as previous research has shown (e.g., Finch \& Cialdini, 1989). In the current research we examine the relationship between same initial preferences and negatively valenced stimuli. Specifically, we examined donations to disaster relief after seven major hurricanes to test the influence of the name letter effect with negatively valenced targets. Individuals who shared an initial with the hurricane name were overrepresented among hurricane relief donors relative to the baseline distribution of initials in the donor population. This finding suggests that people may seek to ameliorate the negative effects of a disaster when there are shared characteristics between the disaster and the self.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Society for Judgment and Decision Making in its journal Judgment and Decision Making.

    Volume (Year): 3 (2008)
    Issue (Month): (June)
    Pages: 404-410

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    Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:3:y:2008:i::p:404-410

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    Related research

    Keywords: name letter effect; donations; charity; hurricane; Katrina.;

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    1. Harbaugh, William T., 1998. "What do donations buy?: A model of philanthropy based on prestige and warm glow," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 269-284, February.
    2. David Str´┐Żmberg, 2007. "Natural Disasters, Economic Development, and Humanitarian Aid," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 199-222, Summer.
    3. C. Miguel Brendl & Amitava Chattopadhyay & Brett W. Pelham & Mauricio Carvallo, 2005. "Name Letter Branding: Valence Transfers When Product Specific Needs Are Active," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(3), pages 405-415, December.
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