Generosity without borders: The interactive effect of spatial distance and donation goals on charitable giving

Alison Jing Xu, Maria A. Rodas, Carlos J. Torelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Although past research suggests that people are more likely to donate money to nearby causes to maximize their positive impact on others’ lives, donations to foreign causes are growing rapidly. Incorporating both other-focused impact goals and self-focused moral goals into our conceptualization, we propose that an interplay between the accessibility of impact/moral goals and the spatial distance between donors and recipients of charitable causes (e.g., faraway vs. nearby recipients) influences charitable behaviors (e.g., donation amounts and charitable choices). Specifically, when the goal to maintain a moral self-concept (impact recipients’ lives) is accessible, donors experience a more expansive conception of their moral circle (apply the “closeness-equals-impact” heuristic) and donate more money to faraway (nearby) causes. We further demonstrate that moral (impact) goals are more abstract (concrete) motivations, and their effects also emerge when priming an abstract (concrete) mindset. Five studies support these predictions while ruling out alternative interpretations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-78
Number of pages14
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Volume161
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Donation goals
  • Expanded circle of moral regard
  • Impact
  • Knowledge accessibility
  • Moral identity
  • Moral self-concept
  • Spatial distance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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