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James W. Pennebaker, Chair The University of Texas at Austin, SEA 4.212, Austin, TX 78712 • (512) 475-7596

"The role of abstraction in charitable contributions"

Fri, January 31, 2014 • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM • SEA Library, 4.244

Guest Speaker: Marlone Henderson, Ph.D., Department of Psychology

"The role of abstraction in charitable contributions" 

When giving to a charitable organization, potential donors frequently reach a point where they need to make a decision on how their contributions should be used. One can either specifically designate their contribution to certain purposes (restricted donation) or allow the organization to use it how it sees fit (unrestricted donation). The decision of whether to restrict one's contribution is crucial for charitable organizations since it directly affects how organizations function. Surprisingly, no research has examined factors that affects people's proclivity for restricted versus unrestricted donations. The presented set of studies explored the effect of construal level on people’s attraction to restricted versus unrestricted contributions. In Experiment 1, participants who adopted a higher level of construal demonstrated a greater willingness to donate in a restricted rather than unrestricted manner to various hypothetical charities, whereas participants who adopted a lower level of construal exhibited an equal willingness to make restricted and unrestricted donations. In Experiment 2, participants who adopted a higher level of construal were more likely to make an actual donation to a real charity when solicited for a restricted rather than unrestricted contribution, whereas participants who adopted a lower level of construal were just as willing to make a donation when solicited for a restricted or unrestricted contribution. Opens questions regarding possible mechanism(s) and potential moderators will be discussed. 


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