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The size and distribution of donations: Effects of number of recipients

  • Emre Soyer
  • Robin M. Hogarth
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    Whereas much literature exists on ``choice overload'', less is known about effects of numbers of alternatives in donation decisions. We hypothesize that donations increase with the number of recipients, albeit at a decreasing rate, and reflect donors' knowledge of the recipients. Donations involve different concepts of fairness---equity and equality---and these can interact with numbers of alternatives. In two experiments, respondents indicated how they would donate lottery winnings of 50 Euros. Results showed, first, that more was donated to non-governmental organizations and campaigns that respondents knew better. Second, total donations increased with the number of recipients albeit at a decreasing rate. Third, when limited to giving to only one of multiple alternatives, donors gave less than when this restriction did not apply. Fourth, variability of donations can both increase and decrease with the number of potential recipients. We comment on theoretical and practical implications as well as suggesting issues for future research.

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

    Volume (Year): 6 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 7 (October)
    Pages: 616-628

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    Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:6:y:2011:i:7:p:616-628
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    1. Andreas Lange & Craig Landry & John List & Michael Price & Nicholas Rupp, 2006. "Toward an understanding of the economics of charity: Evidence from a field experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00292, The Field Experiments Website.
    2. Andreoni, James, 2007. "Giving gifts to groups: How altruism depends on the number of recipients," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(9), pages 1731-1749, September.
    3. Gong, Min & Baron, Jonathan, 2011. "The generality of the emotion effect on magnitude sensitivity," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 17-24, February.
    4. Martin, Richard & Randal, John, 2008. "How is donation behaviour affected by the donations of others?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 228-238, July.
    5. Lauren S. Carroll & Mathew P. White & Sabine Pahl, 2011. "The impact of excess choice on deferment of decisions to volunteer," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 6(7), pages 629-637, October.
    6. Stephan Dickert & Janet Kleber & Ellen Peters & Paul Slovic, 2011. "Numeracy as a precursor to pro-social behavior: The impact of numeracy and presentation format on the cognitive mechanisms underlying donation decisions," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 6(7), pages 638-650, October.
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