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The donor is in the details

Author

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  • Cryder, Cynthia E.
  • Loewenstein, George
  • Scheines, Richard

Abstract

Recent research finds that people respond more generously to individual victims described in detail than to equivalent statistical victims described in general terms. We propose that this “identified victim effect” is one manifestation of a more general phenomenon: a positive influence of tangible information on generosity. In three experiments, we find evidence for an “identified intervention effect”; providing tangible details about a charity’s interventions significantly increases donations to that charity. Although previous work described sympathy as the primary mediator between tangible information and giving, current mediational analyses show that the influence of tangible details can operate through donors’ perception that their contribution will have impact. Taken together with past work, the results suggest that tangible information of many types promotes generosity and can do so either via sympathy or via perceived impact. The ability of tangible information to increase impact points to new ways for charities to encourage generosity.

Suggested Citation

  • Cryder, Cynthia E. & Loewenstein, George & Scheines, Richard, 2013. "The donor is in the details," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 120(1), pages 15-23.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:120:y:2013:i:1:p:15-23
    DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2012.08.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1986. "Fairness and the Assumptions of Economics," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages 285-300, October.
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    10. Kahneman, Daniel & Ritov, Ilana, 1994. "Determinants of Stated Willingness to Pay for Public Goods: A Study in the Headline Method," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 5-38, July.
    11. Small, Deborah A. & Loewenstein, George & Slovic, Paul, 2007. "Sympathy and callousness: The impact of deliberative thought on donations to identifiable and statistical victims," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 102(2), pages 143-153, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bachke, Maren Elise & Alfnes, Frode & Wik, Mette, 2017. "Information and donations to development aid projects," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 23-28.
    2. repec:eee:jbrese:v:79:y:2017:i:c:p:173-180 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Erlandsson, Arvid & Västfjäll, Daniel & Sundfelt, Oskar & Slovic, Paul, 2016. "Argument-inconsistency in charity appeals: Statistical information about the scope of the problem decrease helping toward a single identified victim but not helping toward many non-identified victims ," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 126-140.
    4. Kuppuswamy, Venkat & Bayus, Barry L., 2017. "Does my contribution to your crowdfunding project matter?," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 72-89.
    5. repec:eee:joepsy:v:62:y:2017:i:c:p:1-16 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Lanaj, Klodiana & Johnson, Russell E. & Barnes, Christopher M., 2014. "Beginning the workday yet already depleted? Consequences of late-night smartphone use and sleep," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 124(1), pages 11-23.
    7. Erlandsson, Arvid & Björklund, Fredrik & Bäckström, Martin, 2015. "Emotional reactions, perceived impact and perceived responsibility mediate the identifiable victim effect, proportion dominance effect and in-group effect respectively," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 1-14.

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