The Influence of Victim-Unitization on Charitable Giving

Charitable donations are often insensitive to the number of victims and sometimes actually decrease as victims become more numerous. Three studies show that these effects are eliminated by restoring the psychological coherence of multiple victims. Donations to multiple animals were larger for a herd or flock than for disaggregated animals. Furthermore, donations were higher when six children were said to belong to one unit than for disaggregated children. This effect reversed for children with negative traits, however, because participants’ feelings of concern increase for units with positive traits (single individuals and unitized groups) and diminish for units with negative traits.


Katherine Burson, Robert Smith, and David Faro (2011) ,"The Influence of Victim-Unitization on Charitable Giving", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 9, eds. Alan Bradshaw, Chris Hackley, and Pauline Maclaran, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 515.


Katherine Burson, University of Michigan, USA
Robert Smith, University of Michigan, USA
David Faro, London Business School


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 9 | 2011

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