Are women more generous? New study sheds light on donation behavior

Feb 23, 2009

Why would women give more to the victims of Hurricane Katrina than to the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami? A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research sheds light onto the way gender and moral identity affect donations.

Authors Karen Page Winterich (Texas A&M University), Vikas Mittal (Rice University), and William T. Ross, Jr. (Pennsylvania State University) focused their research on how people choose among charities. With so many worthy charities soliciting donations, the researchers wanted to understand how people make these critical decisions.

"We gave people in the United States $5 that they could allocate to Hurricane Katrina victims, Indian Ocean tsunami victims, or themselves," explain the authors. "On average, people kept $1.10 for themselves and donated the rest. However, the actual amount donated to each charity depended on people's gender and moral identity."

The authors described moral identity as the extent to which being moral, fair, and just is part of someone's self-identity. Gender identity (which generally correlates with biological sex) is defined by how much a person focuses on communal goals, like considering the welfare of others (considered "feminine") versus "agentic" goals, like assertiveness, control, and focus on the self (considered "masculine").

During the experiments, the researchers found that participants with a feminine gender identity who placed a high importance on being moral gave equally to hurricane and tsunami victims. Participants with a masculine gender identity who valued morality gave more to Katrina victims than tsunami victims.

"These findings suggest that donations are not simply driven by cause-worthiness. Rather they may be driven by the extent of overlap people see between themselves and the donation recipient," the authors explain. "For example, we also examined donations to victims of terrorist attacks. We found that women saw overlap between themselves and victims of terrorism in both London and Iraq. Men only saw overlap between themselves and London terrorist victims."

Organizations and donors would benefit by understanding these donation patterns, the authors conclude.

More information: Karen Page Winterich, Vikas Mittal, and William T. Ross, Jr. "Donation Behavior toward Ingroups and Outgroups: The Role of Gender and Moral Identity." Journal of Consumer Research: August 2009.

Source: University of Chicago

Explore further: Bribery 'hits 1.6 billion people a year'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

SOHO sees something new near the sun

56 minutes ago

An unusual comet skimmed past the sun on Feb 18-21, 2015, as captured by the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO.

Train car design reduced impact in Southern California crash

1 hour ago

(AP)—After a horrific crash a decade ago that killed 11 people and injured 180 more, Southern California's commuter train network began investing heavily in passenger cars designed to protect passengers from the full force ...

Appeals court considering warrantless cellphone tracking

1 hour ago

(AP)—Now that the cellphone in your pocket can be used to track your movements, federal appeals judges in Atlanta are considering whether investigators must get a search warrant from a judge to obtain cellphone tower tracking ...

Recommended for you

Bribery 'hits 1.6 billion people a year'

Feb 27, 2015

A total of 1.6 billion people worldwide – nearly a quarter of the global population – are forced to pay bribes to gain access to everyday public services, according to a new book by academics at the Universities of Birmingham ...

How music listening programmes can be easily fooled

Feb 26, 2015

For well over two decades, researchers have sought to build music listening software that can address the deluge of music growing faster than our Spotify-spoilt appetites. From software that can tell you ...

Nature journal to begin offering double-blind peer review

Feb 23, 2015

Well known and respected journal, Nature, will begin next month offering researchers who submit their work for peer review, the option of having it done via the double-blind method—whereby both submitters and re ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.