Liberals vs. conservatives: How politics affects charitable giving

May 31, 2012
Image courtesy: Rice University/Photos.com

Americans are more likely to donate to a charity that reflects the values of their political affiliation, according to a new study from Rice University, the University of Texas at San Antonio and Pennsylvania State University.

"The political divide not only impacts political actions, but everyday actions such as donating to charity," said Rice University Professor Vikas Mittal, co-author of the research paper. "When you ask people if their donation behavior to a charity helping children will change because of their political leanings, most say, 'Of course not!' We wanted to see if that is true or not."

The paper, which will appear in the International Journal of Research in Marketing: Special Issue on Consumer Identities, is based on three studies, two of which comprised nationally representative samples of adults and another based on a randomized experiment with students. The researchers asked why liberals or conservatives would donate more or less to a specific charity.

According to Mittal, the J. Hugh Liedtke Professor of Marketing at Rice's Jones Graduate School of Business, donations to a specific charity by and are strongly affected by their perceptions of the charity's alignment with each party's respective moral foundations. Republicans' moral foundations are embedded in respect for authority and traditions, loyalty and purity; Democrats' moral foundations are rooted in equality and protection from harm.

In a novel study, the researchers presented participants with a description of the same charity, Rebuilding Together. However, they subtly changed small parts of the description to suggest that the charity was either supporting American traditions and loyalty or ensuring equality. Among participants who indicated that morals are highly important, they found that Republicans were almost three times as likely as Democrats to donate when the charity was described as supporting working American families following traditions and supporting their communities (that is, Republican moral foundations). In contrast, Democrats were twice as likely as Republicans to donate when the charity was described as ensuring the protection of a home to every individual.

The researchers said their findings were supported in two additional studies that focused on children's charities, including one for children's advocacy, which seeks to break the cycle of child abuse through prevention, education, advocacy and funding. The charity was described as either aligning with Republican moral foundations of purity and loyalty or Democratic moral foundations of equality and protection from harm. Again focusing on the participants who value morals highly, the researchers found that when the charity description emphasized protection from harm, Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to donate; when the charity description emphasized purity and loyalty to community, Republicans were more likely than Democrats to donate.

"We found that while both Republicans and Democrats tend to equally value justice and caring for the vulnerable, Republicans place a much higher value on issues of purity and respect for authority," said Karen Page Winterich, study co-author and assistant professor of marketing at Pennsylvania State University. "Given these differences, Republicans are more inclined to donate to a when these values of purity and respect are met, whereas Democrats are more inclined to donate when the emphasis is purely on equality or protection rather than respect or purity."

"Charities, in addition to focusing on their main mission, must also clarify how their mission is aligned with the moral foundations of a donor's political identity," said Yinlong Zhang, study co-author and associate professor of marketing at the University of Texas at San Antonio. "A very simple repositioning of the charity's description so that it aligns with a person's political identity can increase donation intentions two- or threefold. Of course, this raises important questions for charities in terms of their communication strategy. But assuming this divide does not exist can only hurt their chances of maximizing donations from liberals and conservatives."

Explore further: Why plants in the office make us more productive

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Men, women give to charity differently, says new research

Dec 18, 2008

To whom would you rather give money: a needy person in your neighborhood or a needy person in a foreign country? According to new research by Texas A&M University marketing professor Karen Winterich and colleagues, if you're ...

Does religion make a difference in politics?

Oct 27, 2008

From Barack Obama's controversial pastor to Sarah Palin's "secret religion", religious values have continued to play a dominant role in the presidential election since John F. Kennedy became the first Catholic elected to ...

Recommended for you

Precarious work schedules common among younger workers

Aug 29, 2014

One wish many workers may have this Labor Day is for more control and predictability of their work schedules. A new report finds that unpredictability is widespread in many workers' schedules—one reason ...

Girls got game

Aug 29, 2014

Debi Taylor has worked in everything from construction development to IT, and is well and truly socialised into male-dominated workplaces. So when she found herself the only female in her game development ...

Computer games give a boost to English

Aug 28, 2014

If you want to make a mark in the world of computer games you had better have a good English vocabulary. It has now also been scientifically proven that someone who is good at computer games has a larger ...

Saddam Hussein—a sincere dictator?

Aug 28, 2014

Are political speeches manipulative and strategic? They could be – when politicians say one thing in public, and privately believe something else, political scientists say. Saddam Hussein's legacy of recording private discussions ...

User comments : 29

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Vendicar_Decarian
2.2 / 5 (17) May 31, 2012
The Republican values of "Purity and respect for authority" remind me of the values held by the NAZI's.

Clearly one of the reasons that the river of Fascism run just under the surface of Republicans and Libertarian/Randites.

MandoZink
2.3 / 5 (9) May 31, 2012
Republicans' moral foundations are embedded in respect for authority and traditions, loyalty and purity; Democrats' moral foundations are rooted in equality and protection from harm.

Not much of a surprise. Most of the liberals I know tend to donate their time to causes that either improve the general welfare of all of the community or help those most in need of assistance.

The conservatives I know tend to help their own schools, churches and local block-watches.

This seems to also reflect the motivations of the "birthers". In order to legitimately dismiss the authority of Obama, they claim he is Kenyan, Muslim, and not pure American-born, thus imbued with other loyalties.
mtc123
3.9 / 5 (14) May 31, 2012
"I bring order to chaos. The only good Libertarian is a dead Libertarian." -Vendicar_Decarian

Wow! Put on that brown shirt and goose step around the town!

philoscifer
4.3 / 5 (9) May 31, 2012
Science is about conducting experiments that yield valid results DESPITE human bias. This article is about a rare, well balanced study in social psychology. Commenters who use it as an excuse to unleash political baggage on other readers, should perhaps reexamine their own approach to science.
MandoZink
3.9 / 5 (7) May 31, 2012
Commenters who use it as an excuse to unleash political baggage on other readers, should perhaps reexamine their own approach to science.

I do agree with that, and the first part of my above comment reflected the article's basic observations.

The second part of my comment was also quite scientific in nature. It was about the very aspect of research - the foundation of science work. This article's findings on donation behaviors reflect one set of values which, when taken to extreme, motivate people to disbelieve legitimate research - in this case - the official validation of our president's legal status.

It was not a twist of their findings, but an observation that validated them. The nature of my comment's political appearance was unavoidable, as those very qualifying distinctions were the basis for this article to begin with.
ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (9) May 31, 2012
Most of what appears on physorg, including this 'study' is not science.
"Five concepts characterize scientifically rigorous studies:"
Clearly defined terminology.
Quantifiability
Highly controlled conditions.
Reproducibility.
Predictability and testability.
"Admittedly, this is a tough list. But, its supposed to be. The standard for rigorous science should be very high. "
"A scientifically rigorous study will meet all or most of the above requirements, and a less rigorous study will meet few if any of those requirements."
http://www.realcl...278.html

But there are 'liberal' Democrats and Republicans and there are 'conservative' Ds and Rs.
How are they defined in the 'study'?
ab3a
3.5 / 5 (13) May 31, 2012
The Republican values of "Purity and respect for authority" remind me of the values held by the NAZI's.


Vendicar_Decarian, do yourself a favor and look up the full name of the Nazi party. Your ignorance is showing.
ryggesogn2
2.2 / 5 (13) May 31, 2012
Of course the NAZIs were/are socialists.
A fact that makes socialists squirm and quickly lash out in denial. But the socialists don't stop being socialists. Power and control ARE most important to them.
Code_Warrior
4.6 / 5 (10) May 31, 2012
It stands to reason that people are more likely to donate to charities that are aligned with their values. Maybe next they will study if extremists are more likely to use inflammatory rhetoric. After that, they can study the premise that athletes are more likely to participate in sports. Are prostitutes more likely to have sex for money? Are alcoholics more likely to spend money on alcohol? Without a scientific study how can we say for sure? So many untested hypotheses, so little time...
Vendicar_Decarian
2.6 / 5 (10) May 31, 2012
Hardly. The Fascist NAZI movement usurped the German socialist movement, just as the neo-fascist Libertarian movement has usurped the Republican movement in the U.S.

"Of course the NAZIs were/are socialists." - RyggTard

Poor RyggTard. He just cant stop himself from lying.

Vendicar_Decarian
2.5 / 5 (8) May 31, 2012
Don't let names confuse you Homo. You are living beyond 1984 and still don't get it.

"Vendicar_Decarian, do yourself a favor and look up the full name of the Nazi party." - HomoEroticus
HatersGonnaHate
3.4 / 5 (10) Jun 01, 2012
Vendicar, you are literally the dumbest regular poster on any website I visit. Yes, this includes YouTube. I'm amazed that you aren't banned yet - if not for your incessant trolling, then your utter stupidity.
geokstr
2.2 / 5 (10) Jun 01, 2012
Vendicar, you are literally the dumbest regular poster on any website I visit. Yes, this includes YouTube. I'm amazed that you aren't banned yet - if not for your incessant trolling, then your utter stupidity.


He is the nastiest, most vile commenter I have encountered on any site, including heavily political ones where debates between right and left are the rule. He has poisoned the commenting process here and a couple of the others are now picking up the "tard" and personal insult style from him.

I have reported him many hundreds of times in the last year. Last week I emailed the proprietors of the site about it, but they have done nothing yet. I urge everyone offended by this individual to use the Contact/FAQ link at the bottom of the page to express your disapproval.

I read every post here that has many comments. He is the ONLY one constantly doing this. When he is banned, this will be a more pleasant place to visit. If he is not, then the owners must agree with him.
ryggesogn2
2.1 / 5 (14) Jun 01, 2012
If he is not, then the owners must agree with him.

I agree.
That must be how scientists really talk to each other.

What I suspect is the owners of this site welcome VD for creating more churn to improve their ratings.
Notice this site now is '.org' which suggests not for profit. Were they losing money as a '.com'?
Noumenon
1.8 / 5 (15) Jun 01, 2012
Based on a number of studies, conservatives are more generous, in general;

http://www.realcl...giv.html

http://dailycalle...iberals/

http://www.nj.com...ves.html

I'm not sure how the above study took this into consideration. Perhaps they also concluded the same, and just choose to leave that result out.
Noumenon
1.6 / 5 (14) Jun 01, 2012
Vendicar, you are literally the dumbest regular poster on any website I visit. Yes, this includes YouTube. I'm amazed that you aren't banned yet - if not for your incessant trolling, then your utter stupidity.


I too have complained to the site administrators about this clown. If you do a little google research, you will find this nut has a long history of saying over the top cartoonish non-sense. I think his hobby is being a "radical" for the sake of being a radical. He has been banned from a number of sites over the course of two decades., and may have invented the Internet troll.

I believe the owners of this site either just don't have the man power to mod the comments, or sympathize with his far leftist anti-American anti-capitalism blather.
Noumenon
1.3 / 5 (12) Jun 01, 2012
Here is the most recent vile anti-American stupidity from this clown,...

Hence 911 was justified and should clearly be repeated.- Vendicar


http://phys.org/n...ice.html

He is so anti-American, I suspect he is middle-eastern, but no way to tell.
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (6) Jun 02, 2012
Member since June 1, 2012 2:15 am.

"Vendicar, you are literally the dumbest regular poster on any website I visit." - HatersGonnaHate

A sock puppet created specifically for the purpose.

Ahaaahahahahahha..... Gosh.. I wonder which ConservaTard it was.

Vendicar_Decarian
4 / 5 (4) Jun 02, 2012
Correct!

"Hence 911 was justified and should clearly be repeated."

Retribution for the murder of Tens of Millions by America.

Here is the entire comment that NumenTard doesn't provide context for.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (6) Jun 02, 2012
NumenTard's justification for slaughtering 8 million Native Americans...

"The Indians slaughtered each other constantly." - NumenTard

---

Response:
And Americans slaughter themselves continually.

Hence 911 was justified and should clearly be repeated.

"Also, you must realize that the native indians, and Africans of the time, were far from being any better. The Indians slaughtered each other constantly." - Numentard

To Conservatives like NumenTard, even the wars of genocide waged against the Native people of America is justified.

How many Natives were murdered? 8 million? 12 million?

Stalin couldn't have done better.
Noumenon
1.3 / 5 (12) Jun 02, 2012
To Conservatives like NumenTard, even the wars of genocide waged against the Native people of America is justified.

How many Natives were murdered? 8 million? 12 million?


Estimates of the ENTIRE population of Indians BEFORE the arrival of Europeans is only between 2.5 to 7 million on the low end, up to 18 million on the high end (Wikipedia),.. so straight away your cartoonish exagerations are evident again.

Secondly, the vast majority of Indianian deaths occured from diseases brought in from Europe, from not being immune like the Europeans were, and from fighting amongst themselves, which they did on a constant basis, even more so once "their land" was occupied more and more by Europeans. All this occured over the course of several hundred years, which means the number of deaths per year are likely less than what we accept in auto accidents per year average now.
Noumenon
1.4 / 5 (11) Jun 02, 2012
,... there are morons like Ward Churchhill who has no credibility, who is an anti-American Indian, and who simply estimated the number of Indians before Europeans arrived and subtracts the number existent now, and calls the difference "the greatest genecide in human history".

Clearly, the man is an idiot, as he ignores the factors I cited above, he ignored that native Indians slaughtered themselves far worse than Europeans did, hense their being considered savages. He ignored their unpreparedness to fight basic diseases, their lack of immunity,.. their lack of medical knowledge,.. factors for which Their to blame.

In addition, the dope Churchhill, does not include assimilation by subsequent generations of Indians into European culture, which is naturally going to occur given European culture is far more sophisticated and desirable. This is phrased as "cultural genecide" and is a fraudulent notion.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (4) Jun 02, 2012
Aboriginal Americans include those from Northern Canada to the tip of South America.
Daein
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 03, 2012
I think this study looks at the wrong aspects. The aspects measured reveal the bias of the people conducting the study.

Anyone who thinks Libertarianism and Fascism have anything in common should look at this page: http://en.wikiped...spectrum
Howhot
4.3 / 5 (6) Jun 03, 2012
Most of what appears on physorg, including this 'study' is not science.


Sure it is. It typical Social Science. Oh, but I forgot; You have a real bias against anything with the word "SOCIAL" in it.
Of course the article is brilliant it demonstrating the social nature of the human species. Unfortunately "Conservative" and "Denier" (and just plane science deniers) goes hand-in-hand. And the anti-science people are usually the more delusional among us.

ryggesogn2
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 03, 2012
Most of what appears on physorg, including this 'study' is not science.


Sure it is. It typical Social Science. Oh, but I forgot; You have a real bias against anything with the word "SOCIAL" in it.
Of course the article is brilliant it demonstrating the social nature of the human species. Unfortunately "Conservative" and "Denier" (and just plane science deniers) goes hand-in-hand. And the anti-science people are usually the more delusional among us.


Asserting a study is science doesn't make it so.
"At the moment, it is certain that we do not have anything remotely approaching a scientific understanding of human society. And the methods of experimental social science are not close to providing one within the foreseeable future. Science may someday allow us to predict human behavior comprehensively and reliably. Until then, we need to keep stumbling forward with trial-and-error learning as best we can. "
http://www.city-j...nce.html
Vendicar_Decarian
3.3 / 5 (4) Jun 03, 2012
Anyone who doesn't think Libertarianism and Fascism have anything in common should look at this page.

https://docs.goog...GbzJURXc
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (4) Jun 03, 2012
Which explains why Libertarianism has been such a monumental disaster for America.

"it is certain that we do not have anything remotely approaching a scientific understanding of human society" - RyggTard
geokstr
1 / 5 (2) Jun 04, 2012
Aboriginal Americans include those from Northern Canada to the tip of South America.


No these are properly called Siberian-Americans, but some believe they are also Polynesian-Americans.