Friends of Victims: Personal Experience and Prosocial Behavior

Why do different people give to different causes? We argue that knowing people with specific misfortunes is an important determinant of preference. Three studies demonstrate that knowing a victim increases prosocial behavior directed toward other victims of the same misfortune in the lab and field, for both donated time and money. An experiment shows that the relationship is causal, not due to unobserved heterogeneity. Survey data suggests that knowing a victim decreases social distance and increases perceived responsibility for others’ welfare together, fully mediating the effect on prosocial behavior.


Deborah Small and Uri Simonsohn (2007) ,"Friends of Victims: Personal Experience and Prosocial Behavior", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 8, eds. Stefania Borghini, Mary Ann McGrath, and Cele Otnes, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 342-342.


Deborah Small, The Wharton School, USA
Uri Simonsohn, The Wharton School, USA


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 8 | 2007

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