Giving against the odds: When tempting alternatives increase willingness to donate

Jennifer Savary*, Kelly Goldsmith, Ravi Dhar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

The authors examine how a reference to an unrelated product in the choice context affects consumers' likelihood of donating to charity. Building on research on self-signaling, the authors predict that consumers are more likely to give when the donation appeal references a hedonic product than when a utilitarian product is referenced or when no comparison is provided. They posit that this phenomenon occurs because referencing a hedonic product during a charitable appeal changes the self-attributions, or self-signaling utility, associated with the choice to donate. A series of hypothetical and actual choice experiments demonstrate the predicted effect and show that the increase in donation rates occurs because the self-attributions signaled by a choice not to donate are more negative in the context of a hedonic reference product. Finally, consistent with these experimental findings, a field experiment shows that referencing a hedonic product during a charitable appeal increases real donation rates in a nonlaboratory setting. The authors discuss the theoretical implications for both consumer decision making and the self-signaling motives behind prosocial choice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-38
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Volume52
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015

Keywords

  • Charitable donation
  • Choice
  • Context effects
  • Prosocial behavior
  • Self-signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

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