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Demanding the Morally Demanding: Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Moral Arguments and Moral Demandingness on Charitable Giving

Ben Grodeck () and Philipp Schoenegger ()
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Philipp Schoenegger: University of St Andrews, School of Economics and Finance & School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies

No 2022-03, Monash Economics Working Papers from Monash University, Department of Economics

Abstract: What are the effects of confronting people with moral arguments and morally demanding statements to perform certain actions, such as donating to charity? To investigate this question, we conduct an online randomized experiment via Prolific (n=2500) where participants can donate to charity. Using a between-subject design, we provide some participants with a moral argument as to why they should donate. We then add a single sentence on top of the moral argument that expresses and varies moral demandingness at different levels. In a follow-up experiment (n=1200) we provide the moral argument and demandingness via an external party’s website—the non-profit Giving What We Can. In both experiments, we find that moral arguments significantly increase both the frequency and amount of donations compared to the control. However, we fail to find evidence that increasing the level of the moral demandingness affects donation behavior in either experiment. Our findings suggest that charities should employ moral arguments to increase giving, but not morally demanding statements.

Keywords: Charitable Giving; Experiment; Morality; Obligation; Pro-Social Behavior (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C90 D64 D91 H41 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ban, nep-cbe, nep-exp and nep-soc
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