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Cognition, Culture, and Charity: Sociolinguistics and “Donor Dissonance” in a Baptist Denomination

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Abstract

Previous researchers who applied cognitive dissonance theory to charitable giving found that giving is for many donors a means of acting consistently with their self-concepts as rational and moral beings. The present study extends this inquiry by investigating how “rationality” and “morality” are culturally constructed norms. Donor communications are effective insofar as their use of language reproduces the expectations of the stakeholder community’s shared culture. This finding is indicated by the author’s extensive ethnographic fieldwork in a Baptist denomination in the United States. The capacity of professional leaders to arouse, preempt, or reduce members’ cognitive dissonances over giving derived from language use that activated (as it simultaneously reified) concepts and associations approved by their Baptist subculture. Building on this and previous studies, the present author proposes a process model for pre- and post-decision cognitive dissonance over charitable giving.

Résumé

Par le passé, les chercheurs qui ont appliqué la théorie de la dissonance cognitive aux dons de bienfaisance ont constaté que le don constitue pour beaucoup de personnes un moyen d’agir conformément à l’image d’êtres rationnels et moraux qu’ils ont d’eux-mêmes. La présente étude prolonge cette enquête en examinant comment la culture façonne les normes que sont la «rationalité » et la «moralité». La communication produite à destination des donateurs est efficace dans la mesure où le langage qu’elle utilise reproduit les attentes de la culture partagée par la communauté des intéressés. Cette découverte est issue des travaux ethnographiques poussés menés par l’auteur sur le terrain, dans une communauté Baptiste aux États-Unis. La capacité des leaders professionnels à stimuler, anticiper, ou réduire les dissonances cognitives des membres en termes de don dérive d’une utilisation de la langue qui active (en même temps qu’elle réifie) des concepts et des connexions validés par leur sous-culture Baptiste. À partir de cela et des études existantes, l’auteur propose un modèle de processus de dissonance cognitive pré- et post-décisionnelle concernant le don de bienfaisance.

Zusammenfassung

Bisherige Forschungen, in denen die Theorie der kognitiven Dissonanz auf das Spendenverhalten angewandt wurde, kamen zu dem Ergebnis, dass gemeinnützige Spenden für viele ein Mittel darstellen, in Einklang mit ihrem eigenen Selbstverständnis als rationale und moralische Wesen zu handeln. Die vorliegende Studie weitert diese Untersuchungen aus, indem sie prüft, inwieweit es sich bei der „Rationalität“und „Moral“um kulturell konstruierte Normen handelt. Die Spenderkommunikation ist insofern effektiv, als dass der Sprachgebrauch die Erwartungen der Kultur der Stakeholder widerspiegelt. Zu diesem Ergebnis kommt der Autor im Rahmen einer umfangreichen ethnografischen Felderhebung in einer baptistischen Glaubensgemeinschaft in den USA. Die Fähigkeit professioneller Führungspersonen, die kognitiven Dissonanzen ihrer Mitglieder in Bezug auf Spenden zu erzeugen, diesen zuvorzukommen oder sie zu reduzieren, leitete sich von dem Sprachgebrauch ab, der die von ihrer baptistischen Subkultur akzeptierten Konzepte und Assoziationen aktivierte (und zugleich reifizierte). Aufbauend auf diese Studie sowie vorherige Forschungen schlägt der Autor ein Verfahrensmodell für die vor und nach der Entscheidung bestehende kognitive Dissonanz im Zusammenhang mit gemeinnützigen Spenden vor.

Resumen

Investigadores anteriores que aplicaron la teoría de la disonancia cognitiva a hacer donaciones caritativas encontraron que hacer donaciones es para muchos donantes un medio de actuar de manera coherente con su concepto de sí mismos como seres racionales y morales. El presente estudio amplía esta indagación investigando cómo la “racionalidad” y la “moralidad” son normas construidas culturalmente. Las comunicaciones del donante son efectivas en la medida en que su uso del idioma reproduce las expectativas de la cultura compartida de la comunidad de partes interesadas. Este hallazgo es evidenciado por el extenso trabajo de campo etnográfico del autor en una confesión baptista en los Estados Unidos. La capacidad de los líderes profesionales para despertar, evitar o reducir las disonancias cognitivas de hacer donaciones se derivaba del uso del idioma que activaba (al igual que cosificaba simultáneamente)conceptos y asociaciones aprobadas por su subcultura baptista. A partir de éste y de estudios previos, el autor propone un modelo de proceso para la disonancia cognitiva previa y posterior a la decisión de hacer donaciones caritativas.

摘要

对慈善捐助采用认知失调理论的早期研究人员发现,对于许多捐赠人来说,捐助是与其作为理性和道德存在的自我概念相一致的方式。通过调查“理性”和“道德”如何作为文化构建标准,当前研究扩展了这一调查。到目前位置,捐助沟通非常有效,因为他们使用的语言再现了利益相关者社区共享文化的预期。本调查结果来自作者对美国浸信会教派的广泛现场人种志调查。专业领导者唤起、优先占有或减少成员捐助认知失调的能力来源于激活(因为它同时具体化)概念并与浸信会亚文化群关联的语言使用。基于本发现和早期研究,作者建议了用于慈善捐助决定前和决定后认知失调的流程模型。

ملخص

وجد الباحثون السابقون الذين تقدموا بطلبات نظرية التنافر المعرفي إلى أن منحة العطاء هو بالنسبة للعديد من الجهات المانحة وسيلة لتعمل بإستمرار مع المفاهيم الذاتية الخاصة بهم ككائنات عقلانية وأخلاقية. هذه الدراسة الحالية توسع هذا الإستعلام من خلال التحقيق كيف “العقلانية “ و “الأخلاق” هي التي شيدت ثقافيا˝ المعايير. تبادل معلومات الجهات المانحة فعال من حيث إستخدامهم للغة يستنسخ توقعات ثقافات مجتمع أصحاب المصلحة المشتركة. يشار إلى هذه النتيجة من خلال العمل الميداني الإثنوغرافي الواسع للمؤلف لدراسة المظاهر المادية للنشاط الإنساني في طائفة المعمدانية في الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية. قدرة القادة المهنيين لإثارة، لإستباق، أو تقليل التنافرات المعرفية للأعضاء بشأن إعطاء مستمد من إستخدام اللغة التي تنشط (كما ترسخ في وقت واحد) المفاهيم والجمعيات التي تمت الموافقة عليها عن ثقافة المعمدان الفرعية. بناءا˝ على هذه الدراسات و الدراسات السابقة، يقترح المؤلف نموذجا˝ لعملية ما قبل وما بعد القرار المعرفي التنافر على العطاء الخيري.

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Ward, M. Cognition, Culture, and Charity: Sociolinguistics and “Donor Dissonance” in a Baptist Denomination. Voluntas 26, 574–603 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-014-9449-y

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