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      Moral Signaling through Donations of Money and Time

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      Center for Open Science

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          Abstract

          Prosocial acts typically take the form of time- or money-donations. Do third-parties differ in how they evaluate these different kinds of donations? Here, we show that consumers view time-donations as more morally praiseworthy and more diagnostic of moral character than money-donations, even when the resource investment is comparable. This moral preference occurs because consumers perceive time-donations as signaling greater emotional investment in the cause and therefore better moral character; this occurs despite consumers’ (correct) belief that time-donations are typically less effective than money-donations (Study 1). This effect in turn is explained by two mechanisms: People believe that time-donations are costlier even when their objective costs are equated, which happens because people rely on a lay theory associating time with the self (Study 2). The more signaling power of time- donations has downstream implications for interpersonal attractiveness in a dating context (Study 3A), employment decisions (Study 3B), and donor decision-making (Study 3). Moreover, donors who are prompted with an affiliation rather (versus dominance) goal are likelier to favor time-donations (Study 4). However, reframing money-donations in terms of time (e.g., donating a week’s salary) reduced and even reversed these effects (Study 5). These results support theories of prosociality that place reputation-signaling as a key motivator of consumers’ moral behavior. We discuss implications for the charity market and for social movements, such as effective altruism, that seek to maximize the social benefit of consumers’ altruistic acts.

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          (View ORCID Profile)
          Journal
          Center for Open Science
          September 23 2019
          Article
          10.31234/osf.io/tg9xs
          dabca0f7-a9b4-4cbe-9402-e85ac40c9fc1
          © 2019

          https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode

          History

          Molecular biology,Microscopy & Imaging
          Molecular biology, Microscopy & Imaging

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