Passing the buck to the wealthier: reference-dependent standards of generosity

Berman, J Z, Bhattacharjee, A, Small, D A and Zauberman, G (2020) Passing the buck to the wealthier: reference-dependent standards of generosity. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 157 (March). pp. 46-56. ISSN 0749-5978

Abstract

Who is expected to donate to charity, and how much should they give? Intuitively, the less financially constrained someone is the more they should give. How then do people evaluate who is constrained and who has money to spare? We argue that perceptions of spare money are reference-dependent with respect to one’s current self: those who earn more than oneself are perceived as having an abundance of spare money and thus as ethically obligated to donate. However, those higher earners themselves report having little to spare, and thus apply lower donation standards to themselves. Moreover, a meta-analysis of our file-drawer reveals an asymmetry: individuals overestimate the spare money of higher earners but estimate the scant spare money of lower earners more accurately. Across all incomes assessed, people “pass the buck” to wealthier others (or to their future wealthier selves), who in turn, “pass the buck” to even wealthier others.

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Item Type: Article
Subject Areas: Marketing
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© 2020 Elsevier. This manuscript version is made available under the Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license

Subjects: D > Decision-making
P > Personal finance
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2020 16:09
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2020 05:15
URI: https://lbsresearch.london.edu/id/eprint/1322
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