Generosity, greed, norms, and death - Differential effects of mortality salience on charitable behavior

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22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Terror management theory (TMT) states that mortality salience prompts people to follow cultural standards. But many cultures value both generosity and accumulation of wealth. Combining TMT with the focus theory of normative conduct, we suggest that whether mortality salience encourages generosity or greed depends on the norm(s) salient in the situation. In Study 1 mortality salience led Americans to give less money to foreign charities. Study 2 replicated this effect, and showed it can be eliminated by activating a generosity norm. However, people who valued money as highly important donated less money following mortality salience. Study 3 showed that following mortality salience and a fairness prime, people behaved more generously when splitting money between themselves and an anonymous partner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-57
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Economic Psychology
Volume35
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2013

Fingerprint

mortality
death
money
Mortality
terrorism
Charities
management
fairness
Generosity
Greed
Mortality salience
Values
Terror
Management theory

Keywords

  • Charitable behavior
  • Mortality salience
  • Norms and values
  • Psychology of money

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Applied Psychology
  • Economics and Econometrics

Cite this

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abstract = "Terror management theory (TMT) states that mortality salience prompts people to follow cultural standards. But many cultures value both generosity and accumulation of wealth. Combining TMT with the focus theory of normative conduct, we suggest that whether mortality salience encourages generosity or greed depends on the norm(s) salient in the situation. In Study 1 mortality salience led Americans to give less money to foreign charities. Study 2 replicated this effect, and showed it can be eliminated by activating a generosity norm. However, people who valued money as highly important donated less money following mortality salience. Study 3 showed that following mortality salience and a fairness prime, people behaved more generously when splitting money between themselves and an anonymous partner.",
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AB - Terror management theory (TMT) states that mortality salience prompts people to follow cultural standards. But many cultures value both generosity and accumulation of wealth. Combining TMT with the focus theory of normative conduct, we suggest that whether mortality salience encourages generosity or greed depends on the norm(s) salient in the situation. In Study 1 mortality salience led Americans to give less money to foreign charities. Study 2 replicated this effect, and showed it can be eliminated by activating a generosity norm. However, people who valued money as highly important donated less money following mortality salience. Study 3 showed that following mortality salience and a fairness prime, people behaved more generously when splitting money between themselves and an anonymous partner.

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