Giving People Simple 'Moral Nudges' Encourages Them To Donate Much More To Charity

Posted on September 5, 2019

Pro-social behaviours are important to help mediate the problems we face as a society, such as global warming, poverty and depleting resources. So, what makes people more pro-social and how can we urge individuals to make more morally right choices that will help the society?

A team of researchers from Middlesex University of London has conducted a series of online studies to determine what works in making people more pro-social. The research involved more than 3,000 participants. In the first study, participants were given 20 cents each and told that they were paired with another individual who had no money. The participants were split into three groups and one group was asked what they think would be a morally correct decision to make from the perspective of a society, and the second group was asked what they personally thought was the right thing to do. These individuals were then asked how much they would donate to their partner. The third group was only asked to state how much they wanted to donate.

The groups which were prompted to think about morally correct decisions donated more than the participants in the third group. Both types of ‘moral nudges’ were equally successful. The other studies involved using the popular prisoner’s dilemma game. Through those experiments, it was found that giving moral nudge also helps to increase collaborative behaviour between participants.

In the last study, there were 1,662 participants recruited and each of them were given 50 cents. They were then asked if they would like to donate to an organisation that helps war victims or an organisation that aids victims of a terrorist attack. Results showed that participants who have been morally nudged donated a significantly larger amount than participants who were not nudged.

Such findings can prove to be very useful in increasing pro-social behaviours in humans. If further research done in more realistic contexts and with larger stakes reap favourable results, policies can be developed based on the moral nudging methods and encourage people to be more charitable and altruistic.


Source material from Science Daily