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Olivola, Christopher Y; Shafir, Eldar (2011)
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
Journal: Journal of Behavioral Decision Making
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: prosocial behavior, fundraising, BF, martyrdom effect, self-sacrifice, charity, Research Articles
Most theories of motivation and behavior (and lay intuitions alike) consider pain and effort to be deterrents. In contrast to this widely held view, we provide evidence that the prospect of enduring pain and exerting effort for a prosocial cause can promote contributions to the cause. Specifically, we show that willingness to contribute to a charitable or collective cause increases when the contribution process is expected to be painful and effortful rather than easy and enjoyable. Across five experiments, we document this “martyrdom effect,” show that the observed patterns defy standard economic and psychological accounts, and identify a mediator and moderator of the effect. Experiment 1 showed that people are willing to donate more to charity when they anticipate having to suffer to raise money. Experiment 2 extended these findings to a non-charity laboratory context that involved real money and actual pain. Experiment 3 demonstrated that the martyrdom effect is not the result of an attribute substitution strategy (whereby people use the amount of pain and effort involved in fundraising to determine donation worthiness). Experiment 4 showed that perceptions of meaningfulness partially mediate the martyrdom effect. Finally, Experiment 5 demonstrated that the nature of the prosocial cause moderates the martyrdom effect: the effect is strongest for causes associated with human suffering. We propose that anticipated pain and effort lead people to ascribe greater meaning to their contributions and to the experience of contributing, thereby motivating higher prosocial contributions. We conclude by considering some implications of this puzzling phenomenon. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
  • The results below are discovered through our pilot algorithms. Let us know how we are doing!

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    • Ariely, D, Kamenica, E, Prelec, D. Man's search for meaning: The case of Legos. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. 2008; 67: 671-677
    • Aronson, E, Mills, J. The effect of severity of initiation on liking for a group. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology. 1959; 59: 177-181
    • Baron, RM, Kenny, DA. The moderator–mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1986; 51: 1173-1182
    • Barry, P. 2006
    • Becker, GS. Nobel lecture: The economic way of looking at behavior. Journal of Political Economy. 1993; 101: 385-409
    • Bem, DJ. Self-perception: An alternative interpretation of cognitive dissonance phenomena. Psychological Review. 1967; 74: 183-200
    • Bénabou, R, Tirole, J. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Review of Economic Studies. 2003; 70: 489-520
    • Bénabou, R, Tirole, J. Incentives and prosocial behavior. American Economic Review. 2006; 96: 1652-1678
    • Berns, G. Satisfaction: The science of finding true fulfillment. 2005
    • Bentham, J. The principles of morals and legislation. 1988
    • Birks, B. 2006
    • Camerer, C. Behavioral game theory: Experiments in strategic interaction. 2003
    • Cormack, M. Sacrificing the self: Perspectives on martyrdom and religion. 2002
    • Cryder, C, Loewenstein, G, Oppenheimer, DM, Olivola, CY. The critical link between tangibility and generosity. The science of giving: Experimental approaches to the study of charity. 2010: 237-251
    • Dickert, S, Sagara, N, Slovic, P, Oppenheimer, DM, Olivola, CY. Affective motivations to help others: A two- stage model of donation decisions. The science of giving: Experimental approaches to the study of charity. 2010: 161-178
    • Fenster, T. 2011
    • Fields, RM. Martyrdom: The psychology, theology, and politics of self-sacrifice. 2004
    • Festinger, L. A theory of cognitive dissonance. 1957
    • 2004
    • Gardiner, R. 2007
    • Glucklich, A. Sacred pain: Hurting the body for the sake of the soul. 2001
    • Gneezy, U, Rustichini, A. A fine is a price. The Journal of Legal Studies. 2000; 29: 1-18
    • Hardy, CL, Van Vugt, M. Nice guys finish first: The competitive altruism hypothesis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 2006; 32: 1402-1413
    • Heath, C. On the social psychology of agency relationships: Lay theories of motivation overemphasize extrinsic incentives. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 1999; 78: 25-62
    • Hoffman, E, McCabe, K, Shachat, K, Smith, V. Preferences, property rights, and anonymity in bargaining games. Games and Economic Behavior. 1994; 7: 346-380
    • Hsee, CK, Loewenstein, G, Blount, S, Bazerman, M. Preference reversals between joint and separate evaluations of options: A theoretical analysis. Psychological Bulletin. 1999; 125: 576-590
    • Hull, CL. Principals of behavior. 1943
    • Kahneman, D, Frederick, S, Gilovich, T, Griffin, D, Kahneman, D. Representativeness revisited: Attribute substitution in intuitive judgment. Heuristics and biases: The psychology of intuitive judgment. 2002: 49-81
    • Kahneman, D, Fredrickson, BL, Schreiber, CA, Redelmeier, DA. When more pain is preferred to less: Adding a better end. Psychological Science. 1993; 4: 401-405
    • Kameda, T, Takezawa, M, Tindale, RS, Smith, CM. Social sharing and risk reduction: Exploring a computational algorithm for the psychology of windfall gains. Evolution and Human Behavior. 2002; 23: 11-33
    • Kaufman, BE. Exploring the behavioral foundations of labor economics. Industrial and Labor Relations Review. 1999; 52: 361-392
    • Kenderdine, A. 2011
    • Kohn, A. Punished by rewards: The trouble with gold stars, incentive plans, A's, praise, and other bribes. 1999
    • Lane, RE. Work as “disutility” and money as “happiness”: Cultural origins of a basic market error. Journal of Socio-Economics. 1992; 21: 43-64
    • Ledyard, J, Kagel, J, Roth, A. Public goods: A survey of experimental research. Handbook of experimental economics. 1995: 111-194
    • Lewin, SB. Economics and psychology: Lessons for our own day from the early twentieth century. Journal of Economic Literature. 1996; 34: 1293-1323
    • Lewis, M. Psychological effect of effort. Psychological Bulletin. 1965; 64: 183-190
    • Liu, W, Oppenheimer, DM, Olivola, CY. The benefits of asking for time. The science of giving: Experimental approaches to the study of charity. 2010: 201-214
    • Liu, W, Aaker, J. The happiness of giving: The time-ask effect. Journal of Consumer Research. 2008; 35: 543-557
    • Locke, EA, Latham, GP. New directions in goal-setting theory. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 2006; 15: 265-268
    • Loewenstein, G. Because it is there: The challenge of mountaineering… for utility theory. Kyklos. 1999; 52: 315-344
    • Loewenstein, G, Issacharoff, S. Source dependence in the valuation of objects. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making. 1994; 7: 157-168
    • Medin, DL, Bazerman, MH. Broadening behavioral decision research: Multiple levels of cognitive processing. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. 1999; 6: 533-546
    • Medin, DL, Schwartz, HC, Blok, SV, Birnbaum, LA. The semantic side of decision-making. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. 1999; 6: 562-569
    • Olivola, CY, Shafir, E. 2011
    • Oppenheimer, DM, Olivola, CY. The science of giving: Experimental approaches to the study of charity. 2010
    • 2008
    • Paolacci, G, Chandler, J, Ipeirotis, PG. Running experiments on Amazon Mechanical Turk. Judgment and Decision Making. 2010; 5: 411-419
    • Proctor, RW, Reeve, TG. Stimulus–response compatibility: An integrated perspective. 1990
    • 2002
    • Reimers, S. A paycheck half-empty or half-full? Framing, fairness and progressive taxation. Judgment and Decision-making. 2009; 4: 461-466
    • Rozin, P, Kahneman, D, Diener, E, Schwarz, N. Preadaptation and the puzzles and properties of pleasure. Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology. 1999: 109-133
    • Russell, A. 2004
    • Shafir, E, Busemeyer, JR, Hastie, R, Medin, DL. Compatibility in cognition and decision. Decision making from the perspective of cognitive psychology (The psychology of learning and motivation, Vol. 32). 1995: 247-274
    • Slovic, P, Griffin, D, Tversky, A, Hogarth, RM. Compatibility effects in judgment and choice. Insights in decision making: A tribute to Hillel J. Einhorn. 1990: 5-27
    • Small, DA, Oppenheimer, DM, Olivola, CY. Sympathy biases and sympathy appeals: Reducing social distance to boost charitable contributions. The science of giving: Experimental approaches to the study of charity. 2010: 149-160
    • Smith, ME. The Aztecs. 2003
    • Stephens, DW, Krebs, JR. Foraging theory. 1986
    • Symonds, WC. 2005
    • Thompson, JA, Bunderson, JS. Violations of principle: Ideological currency in the psychological contract. Academy of Management Review. 2003; 28: 571-586
    • Trope, Y, Fishbach, A. Counteractive self-control in overcoming temptation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2000; 79: 493-506
    • von Baeyer, CL, Piira, T, Chambers, CT, Trapanotto, M, Zeltzer, LK. Guidelines for the cold pressor task as an experimental pain stimulus for use with children. The Journal of Pain. 2005; 6: 218-227
    • Von Neumann, J, Morgenstern, O. Theory of games and economic behavior. 1947
    • Walster, E, Aronson, E, Brown, Z. Choosing to suffer as a consequence of expecting to suffer: An unexpected finding. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 1966; 2: 400-406
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