Social Indicators Research

, Volume 125, Issue 2, pp 665–676 | Cite as

Downward Social Comparison Increases Life-Satisfaction in the Giving and Volunteering Context

Article

Abstract

Using samples of U.S. residents recruited from an online subject pool, this research confirms that charitable behavior is associated with higher life-satisfaction based on a retrospective survey (Study 1). Adopting experimental manipulation, we also find that participants report higher life-satisfaction after volunteering for a downward comparable target (i.e., the poor) than helping a non-comparable target (i.e., Wikipedia). But the above effect exists only among high social-comparison individuals (Study 2). Moreover, among people high in social comparison, comparing oneself with a downward comparable target without helping can lead to a similar level of life-satisfaction as helping the target. In contrast, participants who are low in social comparison achieve higher life-satisfaction when comparing themselves to rather than helping the target (Study 3). These findings suggest that charitable giving and volunteering contributes to life-satisfaction through allowing for downward social comparison.

Keywords

Giving and volunteering Life-satisfaction Downward social comparison 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marketing & Electronic Business Department, School of BusinessNanjing UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China

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