Higher USA State Resident Neuroticism Is Associated With Lower State Volunteering Rates
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming
Highly neurotic persons have dispositional characteristics that tend to precipitate social anxiety that discourages formal volunteering. With the 50 American states as analytical units, Study 1 found that state resident neuroticism correlated highly (r = -.55) with state volunteering rates and accounted for another 26.8% of the volunteering rate variance with selected state demographics controlled. Study 2 replicated Study 1 during another period and extended the association to college student, senior, secular, and religious volunteering rates. Study 3 showed state resident percentages engaged in other social behaviors involving more familiarity and fewer demands than formal volunteering related to state volunteering rates but not to neuroticism. In Study 4, state resident neuroticism largely accounted statistically for relations between state volunteering rates and state population density, collectivism, social capital, Republican preference, and well-being. This research is the first to show that state resident neuroticism is a potent predictor of state volunteering rates.
The Arts as a Catalyst for Human Prosociality and Cooperation
Julie Van de Vyver & Dominic Abrams
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming
We tested the hypothesis that engagement in the arts may act as a catalyst that promotes prosocial cooperation. Using "Understanding Society" data (a nationally representative longitudinal sample of 30,476 people in the UK), we find that beyond major personality traits, demographic variables, wealth, education, and engagement in other social activity (sports), people's greater engagement with the arts predicts greater prosociality (volunteering and charitable giving) over a period of 2 years. The predictive effect of prosociality on subsequent arts engagement is significantly weaker. The evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that the arts provide an important vehicle for facilitating a cohesive and sustainable society. Fostering a society in which engagement in the arts is encouraged and accessible to all may provide an important counter to economic, cultural, and political fracture and division.
The Better is the Enemy of the Good
Christine Exley & Judd Kessler
Harvard Working Paper, August 2017
In standard economic theory, information helps agents optimize. But providing agents with information about the benefits of an action often fails to encourage that action. This paper proposes a far-reaching behavioral explanation: information may make salient that the benefits of taking an action could be improved and agents may see the potential for improvement as a reason to avoid the action. In an experiment, making more salient how a donation could be improved significantly decreases giving. Self-serving motives dramatically magnify the effect, suggesting why information may be particularly ineffective at encouraging privately costly actions with social or future benefits.
Keeping the Memory but Not the Possession: Memory Preservation Mitigates Identity Loss from Product Disposition
Karen Page Winterich, Rebecca Walker Reczek & Julie Irwin
Journal of Marketing, September 2017, Pages 104-120
Nonprofit firms' reliance on donations to build inventory distinguishes them from traditional retailers. This reliance on consumer donations means that these organizations face an inherently more volatile supply chain than retailers that source inventory from manufacturers. The authors propose that consumer reluctance to part with possessions with sentimental value causes a bottleneck in the donation process. The goal of this research is therefore to provide nonprofits with tools to increase donations of used goods and provide a theoretical link between the literature streams on prosocial behavior, disposition, memory, and identity. As such, the authors explore the effectiveness of memory preservation strategies (e.g., taking a photo of a good before donating it) in increasing donations to nonprofits. A field study using a donation drive demonstrates that encouraging consumers to take photos of sentimental possessions before donating them increases donations, and five laboratory experiments explicate this result by mapping the proposed psychological process behind the success of memory preservation techniques. Specifically, these techniques operate by ameliorating consumers' perceived identity loss when considering donation of sentimental goods.
Do Beliefs About Peers Matter for Donation Matching? Experiments in the Field and Laboratory
Laura Gee & Michael Schreck
Tufts University Working Paper, August 2017
A popular fundraising tool is donation matching, where every dollar is matched by a third party. But field experiments find that matching does not always increase donations. This may occur because individuals believe that peer donors will exhaust the matching funds, so their donation is not pivotal to obtaining matching funds. We develop a theory of how beliefs about peers' donations affect one's own likelihood of donation. We test our theory using novel "threshold match" treatments in field and laboratory experiments. These treatments form small groups and offer a flat matching bonus if a threshold number of donations is received. One "threshold match" treatment more than doubles the donation rate in the field relative to no match. To better understand the mechanism behind this huge increase, we use a lab study to replicate the field results and further show that beliefs about peers' donations matter. Our theoretical, lab, and field results combined suggest people are more likely to donate when they believe they are more pivotal to securing matching money. Beliefs about others matter, and they should be taken into account when trying to increase donations.
Half a Gift Is Not Half-hearted: A Giver-Receiver Asymmetry in the Thoughtfulness of Partial Gifts
Daniella Kupor, Frank Flynn & Michael Norton
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming
Four studies document an asymmetry in givers' and receivers' evaluations of gifts: Givers underestimate the extent to which receivers perceive partial (but more desirable) gifts to be thoughtful, valuable, and worthy of appreciation. Study 1 documents this asymmetry and suggests that givers underestimate the extent to which partial gifts signal thoughtfulness to receivers. Study 2 replicates this asymmetry in the context of a real gift exchange among friends. Study 3 shows that this asymmetry arises because givers believe that purchasing partial gifts is a greater violation of gift-giving norms than do receivers, leading givers to expect that partial gifts will damage receivers' perceptions of a gift's value. Study 4 offers an intervention that induces givers to select the (partial) gifts that receivers prefer more than givers expect: framing a gift's separate components as complete units.
Sharing beyond Slacktivism: The effect of socially observable prosocial media sharing on subsequent offline helping behavior
Daniel Lane & Sonya Dal Cin
Information, Communication & Society, forthcoming
New forms of youth social and political participation have been termed 'Slacktivism' - low-cost online forms of social engagement that decrease subsequent offline participation. Previous experimental work has provided support for a 'Slacktivism effect,' but it is unclear if this theoretical model applies to youth media sharing on social networking sites. This study uses a novel sharing simulation paradigm to test the effect of publicly vs. anonymously sharing a social cause video on subsequent willingness to engage in offline helping behavior. Results show that publicly (as compared to anonymously) sharing a selected video on one's own Facebook wall led to a greater willingness to volunteer for an issue-related cause. Participants' existing use of social media for engagement in social issues/causes moderated the effect, such that only participants low in use of social media for social engagement were susceptible to the sharing manipulation. Implications for reconceptualizing media sharing as a unique form of online participation beyond 'Slacktivism' are discussed.