Touch and Donate More: Examining the Effects of the Direct-Touch vs. Indirect-Touch Interfaces on Micro-Donations

Yi Li, Macquarie University
Hean Tat Keh, Monash University

Award Amount: $1,000


Micro-donations, typically given in small amounts between $0.25 to $10, have gained popularity globally. Many retail and service businesses have enabled micro-donation requests at their checkout points. Micro-donations have proven effective in fundraising, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, due to increased online shopping. At the same time, consumers are increasingly using a variety of touchscreen and non-touchscreen devices when shopping online. A naturally arising, yet hitherto unexamined, question is, do direct-touch and indirect-touch interfaces differentially impact consumers’ micro-donation decisions when shopping online? Building on the literature and drawing on the theory of grounded cognition and mental simulation, we propose that the direct-touch interface will increase consumers’ propensity to make micro-donations, compared to the indirect-touch interface. The reasoning is that the direct-touch (vs. indirect-touch) interface facilitates consumers’ mental simulation of the donation action, which in turn (a) amplifies the positive affect consumers feel about making donations, and (b) increases the “feeling right” about donating, both of which increase consumers’ propensity for micro-donations. If supported, our findings make theoretical contributions to the sensory marketing (i.e., haptics) and prosocial behavior literature. Importantly, our findings shed light on how charities and businesses can nudge consumers to make micro-donations. Prosocial behavior, in turn, contributes to consumers’ long-term well-being and happiness.

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