Impediments to effective altruism: the role of subjective preferences in charitable giving

Berman, J Z, Barasch, A, Levine, E E and Small, D A (2018) Impediments to effective altruism: the role of subjective preferences in charitable giving. Psychological Science, 29 (5). pp. 834-844. ISSN 0956-7976 OPEN ACCESS


Charity could do the most good if every dollar donated went to causes that produced the greatest welfare gains. In line with this proposition, the “Effective Altruism” movement seeks to provide individuals with information regarding the effectiveness of charities in hopes that they will donate to organizations that maximize the social return of their donation. This paper investigates the extent to which presenting effectiveness information leads people to choose more effective charities. We find that even when effectiveness information is made easily comparable across options, it has a limited impact on choice. Specifically, people frequently choose less effective charity options when those options represent more subjectively preferred causes. In contrast to making a personal donation decision, outcome metrics are used to a much greater extent when choosing financial investments and when allocating aid resources as an agent of an organization. Implications for Effective Altruism are discussed.

More Details

Item Type: Article
Subject Areas: Marketing
Additional Information:

This is the accepted version of the following article:
Jonathan Z Berman, Alixandra Barasch, Emma E Levine, and Deborah A Small (2018): Impediments to Effective Altruism: The Role of Subjective Preferences in Charitable Giving, Psychological Science. Copyright © 2018 Association for Psychological Science. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.

Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2018 10:03
Date of first compliant deposit: 19 Apr 2018
Subjects: Choice
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2024 01:39

Export and Share


Accepted Version - Text


View details on Dimensions' website

Downloads from LBS Research Online

View details

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item