Moral Identity, Empathy And Justice: Why Some People Donate More To Charity

“Our research examines how moral values of empathy and justice have distinct influences on people when they are asked to make donations benefiting others whose choices have led them to an unfortunate place in life,”

write authors Saerom Lee (University of Texas at San Antonio), Karen Page Winterich (Pennsylvania State University), and William T. Ross Jr. (University of Connecticut). 

“Our results can help non-profits be more cautious when describing the causes and beneficiaries they are supporting. Donation appeals should specify or imply low responsibility of the charity recipients or, alternatively, seek to elicit empathy to increase donations,” the authors conclude.

“Rather than appealing to a broader spectrum of moral values, messages should focus on the moral values of empathy and benevolence.”