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The Emotional Consequences of Donation Opportunities


  • Lara B. Aknin
  • Guy Mayraz
  • John F. Helliwell


Charities often circulate widespread donation appeals to garner support for campaigns, but what impact do these campaigns have on the well-being of individuals who choose to donate, those who choose not to donate, and the entire group exposed to the campaign? Here we investigate these questions by exploring the changes in affect reported by individuals who donate in response to a charitable request and those who do not. We also look at the change in affect reported by the entire sample to measure the net impact of the donation request. Results reveal that large donors experience hedonic boosts from their charitable actions, and the substantial fraction of large donors translates to a net positive influence on the well-being of the entire sample. Thus, under certain conditions, donation opportunities can enable people to help others while also increasing the overall well-being of the population of potential donors.

Suggested Citation

  • Lara B. Aknin & Guy Mayraz & John F. Helliwell, 2014. "The Emotional Consequences of Donation Opportunities," NBER Working Papers 20696, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20696
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lara Aknin & Elizabeth Dunn & Michael Norton, 2012. "Happiness Runs in a Circular Motion: Evidence for a Positive Feedback Loop between Prosocial Spending and Happiness," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 347-355, April.
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    4. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-1348, December.
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    1. The Emotional Consequences of Donation Opportunities
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2014-12-30 18:18:30

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents

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