, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 109-118
Date: 11 Nov 2012

Why money meanings matter in decisions to donate time and money


Most charitable organizations cannot accomplish their missions without asking for money. This is paradoxical because recent research suggests that mentioning money primes a self-sufficient mindset, thus undermining the very behaviors these organizations desire to elicit. We offer an important qualification to this problematic effect. We find that priming cash concepts reduces willingness to help others, while activating credit card concepts reverses these effects. To explain our findings, in three studies we show that priming cash concepts makes costs associated with donating time or money more salient in the decision context, thereby reducing willingness to give help and to receive it. However, priming credit card concepts makes the benefits of donation more salient.

All authors contributed equally and their names are mentioned in an alphabetical order. The authors thank Himanshu Mishra for his helpful comments on previous version of this paper.