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Abstract

This research examines how a focus on time versus money can lead to two distinct mind-sets that affect consumers' willingness to donate to charitable causes. The results of three experiments, conducted both in the lab and in the field, reveal that asking individuals to think about "how much time they would like to donate" (vs. "how much money they would like to donate") to a charity increases the amount that they ultimately donate to the charity. Fueling this effect are differential mind-sets activated by time versus money. Implications for the research on time, money, and emotional well-being are discussed. (c) 2008 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc..
Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1292548
RE S E A R C H P A P E R SE R I E S
http://ssrn.com/abstract=1292548
Research Paper No. 1998
The Happiness of Giving: The Time-Ask Effect
Wendy Liu
Jennifer Aaker
August 2008
Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1292548
The Happiness of Giving: The Time-Ask Effect
WENDY LIU
JENNIFER AAKER*
Forthcoming in Journal of Consumer Research 2008
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Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1292548
*Wendy Liu is Assistant Professor of Marketing at UCLA Anderson School of Management,
110 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095 (wendy.liu@anderson.ucla.edu). Jennifer
Aaker is the Xerox Distinguished Professor of Knowledge at the University of California at
Berkeley, Haas School of Business, Berkeley, CA 94720 (jaaker@haas.berkeley.edu).
Thanks to Nicole Starczak and Robin Avnet for their help with data collection, Cassie
Mogilner for her insight, and the team at HopeLab for their remarkable organization.
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This research examines how a focus on time versus money can lead to two distinct
mindsets that impact consumers’ willingness to donate to charitable causes. The results of
three experiments, conducted both in the lab and in the field, reveal that asking
individuals to think about “how much time they would like to donate” (versus “how
much money they would like to donate”) to a charity increases the amount that they
ultimately donate to the charity. Fueling this effect are differential mindsets activated by
time versus money. Implications for the research on time, money and emotional well-
being are discussed.
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Imagine you are working for a non-profit organization and have been charged with
organizing a fundraiser to elicit contributions from potential donors. As a first step, you
run a simple survey to gauge people’s interest in contributing. You create two versions of
the survey. In one version, potential donors are first asked about their interest in making a
monetary donation (a “money-ask”), followed by a question about their interest to help
through volunteering their time (a “time-ask”). In the second version, you ask the same
questions, but in the opposite order. After the fundraiser takes place, you look at the actual
contributions. Which group of individuals do you think donated more—those who were
asked about donating their money first, or those who were asked about donating their time
first?
Indeed research on time and money, two fundamental resources in people’s lives,
has enjoyed much resonance lately—particularly in the domain of decision making, the
psychology of discount rates, and the valuation of future possibilities (e.g., Loewenstein
1987; Malkoc and Zauberman 2006; Zauberman and Lynch 2005). However, scant
research has examined the downstream effects of asking individuals a simple question
related to time or money such as, “How much time are you willing to donate?” or “How
much money are you willing to donate?” What types of mindsets are activated when one
thinks about time versus money? How might a shift in mindset impact an individual’s
willingness to give? Does activating time versus money lead to a differential awareness
of what makes an individual happy?
These questions are fundamentally important in the context of charitable giving,
which is a $300 billion industry in the United States (Giving USA Foundation 2007). In fact,
non-profit organizations argue that encouraging donations is their single most important
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challenge (West 2004). Exacerbating this concern, the number of American people
volunteering has been steadily shrinking over the last four years (United States Labor
Department Bureau of Labor Statistics 2007). Interestingly, research assessing why people
get involved in volunteering time and contributing money to charitable causes found the
number one reason is “because they were asked by someone” (Independent Sector 1999),
thereby suggesting that the way in which people are asked might well be of critical
importance. Further, understanding donation questions is important for consumer welfare
(Sandberg 2007). Mounting research suggests that consumers consume with the goal of
becoming happy or getting happier, but rarely attain that goal through their purchase
behavior (Lybomirsky 2007; Kasser and Kanner 2004). However, giving has been tied to
reported states of true happiness (Harbaugh, Mayr and Burghart 2007; McGowen 2006;
Thoits and Hewitt 2001), which raises the question: why don’t more individuals give?
This research attempts to tackle these questions through a series of experiments
that examine the ability (a) for non-profits to cultivate charitable contributions and (b) for
consumers to feel happy about giving. Building on the research on the “question-behavior
effect” (e.g., Fitzsimons and Morwitz 1996; Morwitz, Johnson and Schmittlein 1993;
Schwarz 1999; Sherman 1980; Spangenberg 1997; Sprott et al. 2006), we suggest that
asking people a simple question about their intent to donate significantly influences
subsequent charitable giving. However, rather than focusing on whether a question is
posed (as in the question-behavior research), we focus on the content of the question—
whether the question pertains to time or money. The results of three experiments show a
consistent “time-ask effect,” whereby asking people whether they would like to volunteer
time to a charity (versus asking whether they would like to donate money, or not asking
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any intent question at all) leads to higher levels of actual contributions to that focal
charity.
Further, we explore why this effect occurs. The underlying mechanism appears to
be linked to the mindsets activated by the mention of time versus money. Specifically,
people’s representation of time is more closely associated with concepts of emotional
meaning (Carstensen, Isaacowitz, and Charles 1999; Van Boven and Gilovich 2003). In
contrast, the representation of money is more closely associated with concepts of
economic utility (Loewenstein, Reid and Baumeister 2003; Vohs, Mead and Goode
2006). Consequently, answering a question about one’s intention to volunteer time makes
salient the emotional significance of the event, whereby people view charity as a means
towards happiness. This mindset in turn leads to a more positive inclination towards
giving to charity and hence an increase in actual contributions. Next, we draw on research
on the psychology of time and money, as well as the question-behavior effect, to develop
our conceptual model and hypotheses.
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TIME AND MONEY
The impact of time and temporal perspective on consumer decision making has
received much attention lately. A small but growing subset of this research has focused
on time as a resource—comparing it explicitly to money in order to examine how the two
resources differentially impact perceptions and behavior (e.g., Leclerc, Schmitt and Dube
1995). Although both resources are related and to a certain extent exchangeable (DeVoe
and Pfeffer 2007), researchers have begun to explore exactly how they differ and what
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those differences imply for consumer behavior. For example, people project greater slack
in time (relative to money), thereby leading to differential discounts in their future outlay
of time versus money (Zauberman and Lynch 2005). Further, time and money differ in
their value (whereby the value of time is more ambiguous than one’s value of money),
leading to more flexible justifications of expenditures of time than money (Okada and
Hoch 2004). Time and money also differ in their perceived appropriateness as resources
for donation. For instance, people prefer to donate time (over money) to charities when
their self is highly invested in a cause (Reed, Aquino and Levy 2007a; 2007b).
The current research hints at another difference between time and money—
namely, the types of consumer mindsets that are activated by time-asks versus money-
asks. Thus, if one merely asks a question involving time versus money donation intent,
might differences in subsequent behavior result?
The Effect of Measuring Intentions
Consumers are often asked about their intentions to engage in a certain action,
such as purchasing a new car, getting a medical check up, or donating to charity. When
asked to answer such a question, people often do not retrieve a pre-existing intention, but
instead construct an answer to that question (Feldman and Lynch 1988). Further, the
process of providing an answer may in turn lead to changes in one’s actual behavior. An
influential body of research shows that asking people questions about their intentions for
an action can dramatically change the likelihood that people will later perform the action
(e.g., Morwitz et al 1993; Schwarz 1999; Sherman 1980; Sprott et al. 2006). For example,
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consumers who received (vs. did not receive) a survey asking them about their
automobile purchase intentions were more likely to purchase a new automobile in the
subsequent six months (Fitzsimons and Morwitz 1996). Similarly, students who were
asked (vs. not asked) about their likelihood of flossing their teeth in the next two weeks
reported greater instances of teeth flossing in that time period (Levav and Fitzsimons
2006).
These effects are driven at least in part by increased accessibility of relevant
attitudes and cognitions. For example, measuring purchase intent increases the
accessibility of highly salient brands within a category (Nedungadi 1990). Since attitudes
toward those salient brands are often positive (e.g., a well-loved previously-owned car or
a large market-share brand), approach-oriented behavior toward that focal brand results
(Morwitz and Fitzsimons 2004). In addition, measuring purchase intent often leads to
mental simulation processes, thereby further fueling the question-behavior effect (Levav
and Fitzsimons 2006).
These underlying mechanisms illuminate the moderating conditions of the basic
question-behavior effect. In particular, the nature of the constructs being activated by the
intention question plays a role in determining the size and direction of the effect. For
example, even though an intention question increases behavior accessibility by prompting
people to mentally simulate the behavior, the effect is attenuated when the behavior is
unfamiliar such that people cannot perform the simulation (Levav and Fitzsimons 2006).
Moreover, the intention question only enhances behavior if it activates a positive attitude
toward the object. When one’s attitude is negative, the question-behavior effect is
reversed (Morwitz et al 1993; Sherman 1980).
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Building on this research stream, we propose a distinct source of influence: the
types of beliefs and goals that are activated when the action is considered. In particular,
we examine whether posing questions about time versus money donations fosters two
mindsets, one that leads to the consideration of feelings and emotional meaning derived
from an action and another that leads to the consideration of economic utility. We argue
that these distinct mindsets impact charitable giving in very different ways.
Time and Money Activate Different Beliefs and Goals
A fundamental theory in social cognition is that people represent their knowledge
and concepts in associative networks (Anderson and Bower 1973). When a concept is
activated, associated constructs are also activated. Thus one outcome of asking questions
is activating and increasing the accessibility of related concepts, thereby augmenting the
probability that they will be used in a subsequent judgment or behavior. To illustrate, in a
classic example of category priming (Srull and Wyer 1979), participants were asked to
unscrambled sentences using words related to hostility (e.g., “break his leg”). Later in the
experiment, participants were given a behavioral vignette describing a character and then
asked to form an impression of him. Those who unscrambled more hostility-related
words judged the character as more hostile than those who unscrambled fewer hostility
words. In addition to the activation of concepts, priming can activate goals. For example,
when primed with the concept of “mother,” the goal of achievement (e.g., to make
parents proud) is activated, resulting in greater motivation to do well in a difficult task
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(Fitzsimons and Bargh 2003). Further, when a goal is activated, people are more likely to
interpret ambiguous information in light of the goal (Bargh and Chartrand 2000).
Following the theory of construct activation and accessibility, we propose that
asking people to consider their intention to spend time versus money in a certain way
activates discrete goals and increases the salience of certain beliefs. We argue that
thinking about time activates goals of emotional well-being and beliefs involving
personal happiness. In contrast, thinking about money suppresses such emotional goals
and instead activates goals of economic utility and beliefs about attainment of such goals.
These two mindsets align with those described by bi-modal models of cognitive
function (emotional vs. rational; for a review see Pham forthcoming), empathy states
(“hot” vs. “cold;” Van Boven and Loewenstein 2003), and modes of decision making
(guided by heart vs. mind; Shiv and Fedorikhin 1999). These mindsets shift over time,
and across individuals and situations. For example, as people age, they increasingly adopt
a more emotional mindset and are guided by socio-emotional goals (e.g., positive social
interactions), whereas younger adults tend be guided by more cognitive-based goals (e.g.,
learning; Carstensen, Isaacovich, and Charles 1999). When people are given statistical
information about victims, they tend to revert to the cold or rational mindset, thereby
reducing the amount of contribution to those victims (Small, Loewenstein and Slovic
2007). In the current research, we argue that another way in which these distinct mindsets
can be induced is by asking people to consider their use of time versus money.
The idea that the consideration of time, particularly how to spend one’s time, may
activate an emotional mindset is born from three sets of findings. First, the consumption
of time involves, by definition, an experience. Both real and imagined, experiences are
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accompanied by feelings and emotions (Schwarz and Clore 1996). Thus, thoughts of
spending time doing an activity naturally evoke feelings and often increase the
motivation to attain positive emotions (e.g., “how do I feel about it?” Pham 1998).
Second, recent research suggests that experiences (e.g., spending time doing an activity)
are more directly associated with feeling happy than are non-experiential, material
acquisitions (Van Boven and Gilovich 2003). That is, an experience, such as going to a
show, creates greater happiness than does consuming a material product of similar
economic value. Third, emerging research suggests that the salience of the concept of
time in life can directly activate goals of emotional meaning (Liu and Aaker 2007). When
a significant event in life occurs to a young adult (e.g., a cancer death of a close other),
their own lifespan becomes more salient. As a result, they are more likely to pursue
emotionally meaningful long-term oriented goals. Thus, the consideration of how one
might spend his/her time is likely to activate a mindset in which the person focuses on
emotional meaning and well-being.
In contrast, the consideration of how one might spend money should activate a
very different type of goal. Money, as the most common form of currency for economic
exchange, puts a quantifiable value to purchases and consumption. Consequently,
thinking about money (relative to time) is likely to evoke a value maximizing goal (Vohs,
Mead and Goode 2006), prompting people to think about value in a non-ambiguous
manner. Indeed, when people invest money rather than time in a purchase, they demand
unambiguous satisfaction from the consumption. In contrast, when time is invested,
people are able to flexibly determine whether the consumption was worth the time
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(Okada and Hoch 2004). Thus, money appears to activate a mindset that focuses on
maximal, quantifiable utility.
Importantly, we argue that these distinct mindsets are likely to cause the act of
giving to be viewed in different lights. With an emotional mindset, the person is more
likely to see the implications of charitable giving in terms of its emotional meaning, that
is, how giving is related to positive emotions and personal happiness. Recent research
shows that volunteering makes one happy (McGowan 2006). In fact, it is even associated
with lower mortality rates (Harris and Thoresen 2005). Nevertheless, people often
“under-help”—perhaps, in part, because the idea of helping others as a means towards
happiness may not always be salient (whereas more pressing, logistical concerns often
loom larger; Trope and Liberman 2003). Yet when asked about the intention to volunteer
time, the association between charitable contribution and emotional well-being is likely
to become more salient because one’s emotional goals and concepts are activated (Magen
1996; Thoits and Hewitt 2001). This connection should result in a more positive
inclination to actually contribute to charitable causes.
In contrast, measuring one’s intention to donate money will likely make people
consider the implication of contributing to charity in light of a value maximizing goal.
This assessment is likely to be unsatisfying, however, because the economic utility of
giving money to a charity is relatively ambiguous. Even though a direct monetary
sacrifice is incurred, the non-monetary benefits to the self (as well as the impact of the
donation for the charitable cause) are difficult to assess. Therefore, the activation of value
maximization mindset in the charity contribution context may in fact induce a less
positive inclination towards giving and, in the end, lower levels of actual contribution.
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In summary, we propose that asking people their intentions to donate time or
money activates distinct mindsets. Thinking about spending time leads to an emotional
mindset in which giving to charity is seen as a means towards emotional well-being and
happiness, whereas thinking about spending money leads to a value maximizing mindset
in which the link between happiness and giving is less accessible. Consequently,
measuring intentions to give time can lead to a more positive inclination to donate (than
not measuring such intentions). Conversely, measuring intentions to give money may
lead to more disengagement from donating. Therefore, this research proposes the
following hypotheses (depicted in figure 1):
H1: Making time-asks (vs. not making time-asks) increases subsequent amount
of charitable contribution.
H2: Making money-asks (vs. not making money-asks) decreases subsequent
amount of charitable contribution.
---------------------------------
Insert figure 1 about here
---------------------------------
EXPERIMENT 1:
MAKING “TIME-ASKS”: THE IMPACT OF ASKING FOR VOLUNTEERING
INTENTIONS ON MONETARY PLEDGES
Overview and Design
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The objective of experiment 1 was to examine whether simply asking a time
intention question first before a donation request could foster an emotional mindset,
thereby increasing the amount of donation (hypothesis 1). Thus, we first asked (vs. did
not ask) people to consider volunteering time to a non-profit organization. Then we asked
for their pledge to make a monetary contribution to that charity. We predict that the
amount of money people would pledge to donate would be higher when time-ask was
first considered than if no such question preceded the monetary pledge. Thus, experiment
1 utilized a single-factor design where the presence of a time-ask was manipulated (time-
ask: present vs. absent), and where monetary pledge was the key dependent variable.
Procedure
The participants were ordinary consumers from all over the United States (N =
199; mean age = 33; 29% male), recruited for $2 to complete an online survey
administered by researchers at a large west-coast university for academic purposes.
Participants read, “Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the
United States. The American Lung Cancer Foundation’s mission is to promote public
awareness, policy making, and medical research towards preventing lung cancer.” They
were then told that the foundation was having a fundraising event. Randomly-assigned,
half of the participants were asked, “How much time would you like to donate to the
American Lung Cancer Foundation?” (time-ask: present). The other participants were not
asked the volunteering intent question (time-ask: absent).
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Next, both groups were asked, “How much money would you donate to the
American Lung Cancer Foundation?” Thus, the dependent variable was the amount of
money people pledged to donate. Ancillary questions followed, including individual
differences in the monetary valuation of time, scarceness of time and money, as well as
demographic variables. Finally, participants were thanked and dismissed.
Results and Discussion
A one-way ANCOVA was conducted on the amount of money people pledged to
donate. Covariates included gender and age; neither showed significant main or
interactive effects (F’s < 1). Indeed, the only significant result was a main effect of time-
ask (F(1, 195) = 4.38, p = .04). When intentions to donate time were not asked before the
monetary pledge, the average level of donation was $24.46. However, when intentions to
donate time were asked before the monetary pledge, this amount increased to $36.44,
thereby supporting the time-ask effect (hypothesis 1).
However, although an emotional mindset and the connection between charitable
giving and personal happiness is hypothesized to underlie the time-ask effect, alternative
explanations also exist. One explanation for the time-ask effect may be guilt-based. That
is, many people may have opted out of volunteering time; and after declining to
volunteer, guilt ensued—thereby fueling a desire to donate more money to reduce this
guilt (Strahilevitz and Myers 1998). If this were the case, there should be a negative
correlation between the stated amount of volunteering and monetary donation. In
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particular, those who stated zero volunteering should donate more money compared to
those who offered to volunteer.
To examine this possibility, we first assessed the average amount of time people
were willing to volunteer (m = 5.82 hours). Interestingly, there was a significant positive
correlation between the amount of time and money donations (r = .43, p < .001). Further,
those who stated zero volunteering on average donated $19.75. In stark contrast, those
who were willing to volunteer on average donated $45.81 (F(1, 111) = 7.34, p < .01).
These results cast doubt on the guilt explanation. Indeed, quite the opposite: if a person is
more willing to give in one mode—they are also more willing to give in the other.
Another potential explanation for the result may be made based on anchoring on a
specific monetary value. Specifically, a “value anchoring” explanation suggests that
measuring time first may simply anchor people on a higher amount of contribution. In
this study, we measured people’s monetary valuation of time (“How much is an hour
worth to you?”). On average, people valued their time at $28/hour (*excluding four
outliers whose hour of time was priceless). Thus, the total economic value of pledged
volunteering was substantially higher ($27 x 5.82 = $157) than the pledged monetary
donation of $36.44. If people become anchored on such a high value, they may be more
likely to give a higher amount in the subsequent response to the monetary donation
request. However, the strength of this explanation is attenuated by two observations.
First, the value of time question is only asked after the donation question. Thus, it is
unclear whether people would automatically make such a value conversion (DeVoe and
Pfeffer 2007), or if they considered the magnitude of each type of contribution separately.
Second, if value anchoring was operating, one should observe a positive correlation
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between time valuation and money donated. However, there was no correlation between
time valuation and donation amount (r = .14, p = .13). On the other hand, there was a
correlation between hours pledged and amount donated, suggesting the connection
between volunteering and monetary donation is a more qualitative feeling rather than
value correspondence. Nevertheless, to abate the influence of this potential value
anchoring explanation, we use a more qualitative measure of volunteering intention in
experiment 2.
Finally, one interesting question arises in light of the high willingness to
volunteer: why would people pledge a high level of help (> 5 hours) when asked about
time contribution but appear relatively miserly—$36—when asked for donations? One
possibility might be that time is a less constrained resource for people relative to money.
Thus, people are more able to offer time. However, when we looked at the scarcity of
money and time for the participants (“How scarce is money to you?” and “How scarce is
time to you?” where 1 = Not at all; 7 = Very much), time and money were perceived to
be equally scarce (Mmoney = 4.77, Mtime = 4.80, t(198) = -.21). Therefore, relative scarcity
may not readily explain the higher level of generosity associated with volunteering.
Further, although scarcity of money is negatively correlated with donation (a result
consistent with intuition; r = -.26, p = .005), and people who perceived money as scarcer
than time donated less than those who perceived time as scarcer (Mmoney-scarcer = $22,
Mtime-scarcer = $49, F(1, 195) = 19.01, p < .005), scarcity of time was uncorrelated with
volunteering amount in the time-ask condition (r = .01, p = .93). In other words, when
money is scarce, people donate less. However, how much time people pledge to volunteer
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is less associated with the availability of this resource. This set of findings suggests that
time-asks activates a qualitatively different mindset compared to money-asks.
Thus, experiment 1 provided empirical evidence for the time-ask effect, whereby
a question about donating time to a charity increased the subsequent monetary donation
to the charity. Experiment 2 was conducted to provide convergent support and to test the
time-ask effect in a more conservative set of conditions. First, we move away from the
quantitative measure of volunteering (“How much time would you like to donate?”), and
instead use an attitudinal measure of volunteering intentions (“How interested are you in
volunteering for HopeLab?”). By doing so, we further blunt the possibility of value
conversion between time and money, and test whether the mere consideration of
volunteering (without an amount attached to it) may change people’s level of generosity.
Further, we insert a temporal gap between time-ask and actual donation request (rather
than the seamless move from the time-ask manipulation to donation request as in
experiment 1). Doing so reduces experimental demand and provides evidence for the
endurance of the effect over a certain period of time, as suggested by previous research
on the question-behavior effects (e.g., Fitzsimons and Morwitz 1996).
Second, because the total number of questions asked differed across conditions in
experiment 1, the results were left vulnerable to experimental confounds. For example,
participants may have felt compelled to increase their donation levels with each question.
Further, the number of questions alone may have increased participants’ involvement
with the survey resulting in more positive responses. Therefore, in the next study, we
equate the number of questions across conditions by measuring both intent to give money
and intent to give time. We simply alter the order of the “time-ask” and “money-ask”
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questions before the request for actual contribution. Asking both types of questions also
addresses a concern in experiment 1 whereby the time-ask effect may have been affected
by the mismatch between the intent question (donating time) and the behavior (donating
money).
Third, to enhance realism and external validity, we study charitable giving in a
field setting, and observe real helping behavior in two domains: actual monetary
donations and actual time donations (tracked over one month).
A final objective of experiment 2 was to empirically examine both hypothesis 1
and 2. That is, although experiment 1 examined the effect of measuring time intention
(hypothesis 1), it did not address the effect of measuring intention for monetary donations
on subsequent donation behavior (hypothesis 2). Thus we compare both types of “asks”
to a control condition in experiment 2.
EXPERIMENT 2: THE IMPACT OF “TIME-ASKS” VERSUS “MONEY-ASKS”
ON ACTUAL DONATIONS
Overview and Design
In this study, we examine the case of measuring both time and monetary donation
intentions, but alternate the order of the questions. The key predictions concerned
contrasts among three conditions: time-ask-first (where time donation intent question was
posed first), money-ask-first (where money donation intent question was posed first), and
control (where no intent question was posed). We compared the amount of subsequent
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actual donations among these three conditions. When volunteering intent was asked first,
we proposed that an emotional mindset would be activated whereby the connection
between charitable giving and personal happiness would become more salient, increasing
the amount of actual donations. On the other hand, when monetary donation intent was
asked first, an emotional mindset should not be activated, and even potentially suppressed
by a value maximizing goal. Therefore, the relationship between giving to charity and
happiness would not be salient to the individual. Instead, the ambiguity in assessing the
utility implications of charitable contributions would likely reduce one’s inclination to
give. If true, actual donations at a later time would be lowest in the money-ask-first
condition, followed by the control, and then followed by the time-ask-first condition.
Of note, although the time-ask-first and money-ask-first conditions contained both
a donation and a volunteering intention question, we believed the precedence of the first
question would have a dominating effect in activating the appropriate mindset for
considering the context, thus overpowering the subsequent question. This conjecture is
supported by previous research showing that in generating a series of thoughts, the first
thought generated often interferes with the person’s ability to generate other thoughts
(Hoch 1984). Therefore, the question order manipulation set the stage for a relatively
conservative test of hypotheses 1 and 2.
Procedure
Participants (N = 193; mean age = 22; 58% male) were undergraduate students at
a large west-coast university, participating in a purportedly 60-minute marketing research
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study. To create the stimuli for experiment 2, we worked with the non-profit
organization, HopeLab (www.hopelab.org), which develops innovative social
technologies to improve the quality of life for children with serious chronic illnesses
(e.g., Re-Mission video game), in conjunction with their fundraising efforts on college
campuses. Thus, a research facilitator, representing the HopeLab organization, was
waiting outside a room where the study was taking place. When students left the room
(on average with 20-30 minutes to spare), the facilitator approached them individually to
see if they would be willing to participate in another 30-minute study in which they
would receive up to $10 for their participation. Response rate was high; two participants
declined.
First, participants read a one-page background introduction about HopeLab,
followed immediately by the intention question manipulation (see appendix). In the time-
ask-first condition, randomly-assigned participants were asked to indicate (a) “How
interested are you in volunteering for HopeLab?” and (b) “How interested are you in
making a donation to HopeLab?”(1 = Not at all; 7 = Very much). The questions were
reversed in the money-ask-first condition. No questions were asked in the third condition
(control). Next, all three groups were asked questions regarding their impressions of
HopeLab, followed by 20 minutes of unrelated filler questions.
When finished, participants handed the questionnaire to the facilitator who was
standing next to a box entitled, “HopeLab Donations.” The facilitator paid each
participant with ten $1 bills. Although the facilitator did not suggest that the participants
make any donation, the box was in public view. A secondary researcher, collecting the
questionnaires, gave the participants a receipt on which participants had to write down
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the total received (i.e., net of any contributions) for reimbursement purposes. This receipt
served as the main dependent variable assessing actual donations.
Finally, each participant was given a leave-behind flyer entitled, “Volunteer for
HopeLab.” It read, “HopeLab is partnering with Pledge N’ Play, a digital event marketing
program, to sponsor an on-line fundraising event. We are interested in marketing this
fundraising event to local college and high school students. In particular, we need
volunteers to help us publicize and promote this fundraiser event on the campus. Would
you like to volunteer for this effort? ___ Yes ___ No, thanks. To begin volunteering, or
for more information, please include your email ____. If you have any questions, please
email Robin Avant ravant@hopelab.org.”
The following week, the fundraising organizer at HopeLab contacted all
participants who left their email and helped monitor the number of hours these volunteers
actually worked for HopeLab. Thus, in addition to the observation of actual monetary
donations made within the survey session, the actual number of hours people worked for
HopeLab over the course of one month was monitored.
Results
To begin, a one-way ANCOVA was run on the amount of money donated to
HopeLab; gender and age were included as covariates. Although there was a significant
effect of age (F(1, 188) = 9.24, p = .003; whereby older participants donated more), there
was no effect of gender. More importantly, there was a main effect of question order
(F(2, 188) = 8.33, p < .001). Planned contrasts showed that, as predicted, the average
22
level of donation was higher for participants in the time-ask-first condition compared to
the control condition (Mtime-ask-first = $5.85, Mcontrol = $4.42, t(190) = 2.02, p = .04), and
compared to the money-ask-first condition (Mmoney-ask-first = $3.07, t(190) = 4.07, p <
.001). Further, donations in the money-ask-first condition were significantly lower than in
the control condition (t(190) = -1.97, p = .05).
Next, we examined whether and how much participants volunteered for HopeLab.
In the time-ask-first condition, 14% of the participants indicated they would volunteer for
HopeLab and wrote down their email to be contacted, compared to 3% in the money-ask-
first condition and 3% in the control condition. A binary logistic regression with age and
gender as covariates revealed a significant main effect of the question order manipulation
(Wald (2) = 7.46, p = .02). The differences between time-ask-first and control conditions,
and between time-ask-first and money-ask-first conditions, were both significant (with
control as reference category, B = 1.70, Wald (1) = 4.12, p = .04; with money-ask-first as
reference category, B = 1.76, Wald(1) = 4.78, p = .03). On the other hand, the difference
between money-ask-first and control was not significant (Wald < 1).
To examine actual hours donated, the head of fundraising at HopeLab contacted
all of those who provided email addresses. The results showed that about half the people
in each condition who gave their email turned their commitment into action. Thus, 7.0%
(4 people) of all participants in the time-ask-first condition actually volunteered time to
HopeLab (M = 6.5 hours). In contrast, only 1.6% (1 person) for those in the money-ask-
first condition, and 1.6% (1 person) for those in the control condition actually
volunteered. Although the direction of the effect is consistent with the results on pre-
commitments, the effect did not reach statistical significance (Wald(2) = 3.04, p = .22)
23
due to the small number of people who actually volunteered in the money-ask-first and
control conditions.
Discussion
In a field experiment involving real contributions to a charity, participants who
were first asked about their intention to volunteer for the charity subsequently donated
more money to the charity compared to participants who were not first asked about
volunteering intentions. On the other hand, people who were first asked about their
intention to donate money donated less to the charity relative to those in the control
condition where no questions were asked. These results suggest that, in a charitable
giving context, asking intention to donate money versus time lead to very different
behaviors. Further, the data is suggestive that the impact of measuring time intentions on
actual volunteering behavior may endure for a period of time—in this case, after 20
minutes, and potentially up to a month.
Thus experiments 1 and 2 provided converging evidence for the effect of
measuring time versus money intentions. However, the mechanism underlying the effect
remains unclear. In experiment 3, we hoped to garner more explicit evidence of process,
testing the hypothesized mechanism as well as alternative mechanisms. The focal
mechanism was based on the premise that thoughts of time expenditure activate an
emotional mindset. In turn, the connection between happiness and charitable giving is
made salient, increasing the positive inclination towards contributing (“happiness of
24
giving” mechanism). In addition, we examine three alternative explanations that might
also play a role in the time-ask effect.
First, even though the volunteering intention question was qualitative in nature in
experiment 2 (thereby reducing the possibility of a “value anchoring” explanation), it is
still possible that the concept of the economic value of one’s time was activated by the
volunteering intention question. Thus, asking about time first may still activate a high
anchor for donation level for those people whose value of time is greater than the range
of monetary donation amounts considered. If this were the case, a person’s perceived
value of his/her time may still play an important role in driving the effect.
A second possibility involves “increasing empathy.” Perhaps asking people to
consider volunteering time leads to greater imagination of the people in need (Batson
1987) and hence empathy toward those people (Small et al. 2007). This stronger empathy
may have lead to higher motivation to help.
Third, an “ease-of-representation” mechanism may underlie the results. Here,
considering volunteering might lead to greater ease and vividness in imagining oneself
helping HopeLab. People may translate this ease of representation into an implementation
intention (Levav and Fitzsimons 2006), facilitating actual contributions. In experiment 3,
we seek to disentangle these potential explanations from the proposed mechanism of
“happiness of giving.”
EXPERIMENT 3: THE HAPPINESS OF GIVING
Overview and Design
25
The objective of experiment 3 was to provide further evidence for the time-ask
effect and to shed more direct light on the mechanism(s) underlying the effect. Thus, we
examined whether considering a time donation activated an emotional mindset and
increased the salience of the positive emotional meaning of charitable giving. We also
explored potential alternative explanations, namely value anchoring, increased empathy,
and ease-of-representation. To this end, this experiment measured three potential
mediators: beliefs about the tie between charitable giving and happiness, feelings of
empathy, and increased ease and vividness of imagining oneself engaging in helping the
charity. Further, the potential moderating role of the person’s valuation of the worth of
one’s time was examined (per the value anchoring explanation).
Similar to experiment 2, this experiment focused on people’s donations to
HopeLab (www.hopelab.org), comparing two conditions: money-ask-first and time-ask-
first. This study mirrored the protocol used in experiment 2 but with three changes. First,
we wanted to reduce the chance that participants felt they received a “windfall” of 30
minutes—which may have fostered feelings of reciprocity when asked for intention to
donate time (but not intention to donate money). Thus, participants were recruited to take
part in a study that would take approximately 45 minutes, and the study indeed lasted 45
minutes.
Second, after the 20-minute filler task, participants were told that they could be a
winner in a $20 drawing, but that they could donate any part of this money to HopeLab in
the event that they won. Participants were asked to write down how much of the $20 they
26
would donate. This action was consequential because the transaction would take place for
winners in the drawing (five participants won).
Finally, after the $20 pledge was measured, a series of questions assessing the
underlying process followed. All were recorded on a seven-point scale (1 = Not at all; 7 =
Very much) and were posed in the following order: First, “How easily can you imagine
the life of young people with chronic illnesses?” and “How much can you empathize with
(i.e., understand and feel for) young people with chronic illnesses?” (combined to form
an empathy index). Then, “How easily can you imagine yourself working for HopeLab?”
and “How easily can you imagine yourself donating to HopeLab?” (combined to form an
ease-of-representation index). Finally, for the belief in the association between charity
and emotional meaning, participants were asked, “To what degree do you believe
happiness is tied to volunteering?” and “To what degree do you believe happiness is tied
to donating money?” These two items were not readily combined, allowing for the
possibility that they may not cohere perfectly. Additionally participants were asked about
their valuation of time, as in experiment 1: “How much is an hour of time worth to you?”
Participants were debriefed and thanked.
Procedure
Participants (N = 50; mean age = 20; 32% male) were undergraduate students at a
large western university, and paid $10 to participate in a survey. The procedures were
similar to that of experiment 2. Participants were presented with a one-page information
sheet about the HopeLab organization, and then asked to indicate on seven-point scales
27
their intentions to donate and volunteer (“How interested are you in making a donation to
HopeLab?” and “How interested are you in volunteering for HopeLab?”). As in
experiment 2, the order in which the two questions were asked was counter-balanced.
Next, participants worked on unrelated filler tasks for 20 minutes. At the end of
the session, they were unexpectedly asked to consider actually making a donation to
HopeLab. Specifically, “In today’s session, five participants will be randomly selected to
win a bonus payment of $20. If you are chosen as a winner, you can donate all or part of
the $20 to HopeLab. If you are a winner, how much of the $20 would you like to donate
to HopeLab?” Participants were then told about how the payments would be processed so
that they understood that their decision was consequential.
Next, we assessed the distinct processes that might underlie the basic effect (see
above for items encapsulated in the empathy index, the ease-of-representation index, and
the two belief-in-happiness items). Finally, for the financial value of time, participants
were asked, “How much is one hour of your time worth? $___.” Participants were
thanked and debriefed.
Results
A one-way ANCOVA was run on the amount of money people would like to
donate with question order as the independent factor. Gender and age were included as
covariates but only gender showed a significant effect (Mmale = $6.69, Mfemale = $10.91,
F(1, 46) = 4.61, p = .04; F < 1 for age). Importantly, however, the ANCOVA also
revealed a significant effect of question order (F(1, 46) = 6.09, p = .02). As predicted, the
28
average level of donation among participants was considerably higher in the time-ask-
first condition than in the money-ask-first condition (Mtime-first = $11.50, Mmoney-first =
$6.65).
To shed light on the process underlying this effect, we first explored the
mechanism proposed to drive the difference: whether considering volunteering for charity
leads to an activation of an emotional mindset, and the thought that helping with charity
plays an important role in pursuing happiness. Thus, we examined people’s response to
the items, “To what degree do you believe happiness is tied to volunteering?” and “To
what degree do you believe happiness is tied to donating money?” Although the two
measures correlated significantly, the correlation did not warrant collapsing into a single
index (r = .43, p = .002). Thus, separate analyses were conducted on these items.
An ANCOVA on happiness-volunteering belief with question order as the
independent factor, and gender and age as covariates, showed significant effects of both
gender (F(1,45) = 5.96, p = .01) and age (F(1,45) = 4.08, p = .05). More importantly, the
analysis revealed a significant effect of question order (F(1, 45) = 6.59, p = .01). When
volunteering intent was measured first, people reported greater belief in the relationship
between volunteering and personal happiness (M = 4.80), compared to when monetary
donation intent was measured first (M = 3.89). In addition, an ANCOVA with donation
as the dependent variable, and question order, gender, age, and happiness-volunteering
belief as independent variables, showed a significant effect of happiness-volunteering
belief in predicting donation (F(1, 44) = 7.17, p = .01). Importantly, with the happiness-
volunteering belief included in the model, the previously significant effect of question
29
order became insignificant (F(1, 44) = 1.96, p = .17). A Sobel test further demonstrated
that the mediation by happiness-volunteering was significant (z = -1.96, p = .05).
Together these results suggest that the increased belief in happiness-volunteering
relationship fully mediated the effect of intention question order on donation behavior
(Baron and Kenny 1986). In other words, when time-ask was considered first, versus
when money-ask was considered first, the tie between personal happiness and helping a
charitable cause became more salient, leading to higher levels of actual helping behavior.
A similar analysis was conducted on the happiness-donation measure. The
ANCOVA on the happiness-donation belief showed that the effect of question order did
not reach significance (Mtime-first = $3.43, Mmoney-first = $2.85, F(1, 46) = 2.29, p = .14).
Further, an ANCOVA with donation as the dependent variable, and question order,
gender, age, and happiness-donation belief as independent variables, yielded a significant
effect of happiness-donation belief in predicting donation (F(1, 45) = 7.37, p = .01).
However, the effect of question order remained significant despite being directionally
weaker (F(1, 45) = 3.92, p = .05). A Sobel test showed the mediation of happiness-
donation was not significant (z = -1.35, p = .18). These results suggest that the happiness-
donation belief, although directionally similar to the happiness-volunteering belief,
appears less affected by the emotional mindset created by thinking about volunteering.
This difference is consistent with the proposed masking of an emotional mindset when
determining monetary outlays. Nevertheless, even though thinking about volunteering did
not impact the perceived tie between donation and happiness as strongly as it impacted
the perceived tie between volunteering and happiness, this latter perception was strong
30
enough to generalize to other modes of helping (i.e., generalizing from volunteering to
making a donation), resulting in higher levels of donations.
Thus, the “happiness of giving” mechanism appears to be empirically supported.
However, also of interest were the additional process measures for the potential
alternative explanations. To examine the value anchoring explanation, we examined the
potential moderating role of participants’ perception of the value of their time. The results
showed that, similar to experiment 1, people considered their time to be worth $23,
ranging from $7 to $100 (with one outlier of $550 excluded from analysis). However, a
linear regression shows that the perception of time worth was again not a significant
predictor of donation amount in the time-ask-first condition (t < 1).
Next, separate ANCOVA’s were run with each process index as the dependent
variable, question order as the independent variable, and gender and age as covariates.
People’s level of empathy for the cause was similar in the time-ask-first and money-ask-
first conditions (empathy index r = .65; Mtime-first = 4.18, Mmoney-first = 3.93, F < 1).
Further, when we added the empathy index to the original model, with donation as the
dependent variable, question order as independent factor, and gender and age as
covariates, the results revealed that although question order remained a significant
predictor of donation amount (question order: F(1, 45) = 5.69, p = .02), the effect of
empathy was not significant (F(1, 45) = 1.11, p = .30). A Sobel test confirmed the
mediation was not significant (z = -.13, p = .90).
Similarly, the ease of imagining oneself contributing to HopeLab differed only
marginally across conditions (Mtime-first = 2.93, Mmoney-first = 2.33, F(1, 46) = 2.88, p = .10).
Further, when this ease-of-representation index (r = .81) was added to the original
31
ANCOVA model, the results showed that although ease-of-representation had a
significant effect on donations (F(1, 45) = 3.91, p = .05), question order also remained
significant (F(1, 45) = 3.95, p = .05). A Sobel test further confirmed the mediation of
ease-of-representation was not significant (z = -1.26, p = .20), casting doubt on ease-of-
representation as an underlying driver of the effect.
Finally, the non-significant results of these two measures (compared to the
significant mediation of the happiness-volunteer measure) did not appear to stem from
lack of variability in these variables (standard deviations: ssempathy = 1.73, ssease-of-
representation = 1.43, compared to sshappiness-volunteering = 1.67, sshappiness-donation = 1.58).
Discussion
Experiment 3 provided additional evidence of the time-ask effect, and more
importantly, evidence for the mechanism underlying this effect. Specifically, consistent
with our theory that measuring time intentions activates an emotional mindset thereby
allowing the person to see the relationship between charitable giving and personal
happiness, the participant’s increased belief in the happiness-volunteering link mediated
the effect of the intention question order. Additionally, the data cast doubt on several
alternative mechanisms including value anchoring, increased empathy, and ease-of-
representation.
GENERAL DISCUSSION
32
How to get people to give? The current research tackles this question by
highlighting an important distinction between two types of “asks”—one that involves
asking for donation of time and the other that involves asking for money. In both field
and lab experiments, and across different populations (US consumers and college
students), we show that first asking people about their intentions to donate time leads to a
significant increase in actual amounts of contribution, compared to either not asking for
volunteering donations (experiments 1 and 2) or first asking people about their intentions
to donate money (experiments 2 and 3). Further, this effect appears to be driven by the
differential mindsets activated by the consideration of spending time versus money.
Considering time appears to activate goals of emotional well-being and beliefs involving
personal happiness. Such a mindset leads to greater willingness to make an actual
donation.
By demonstrating the differential effects of measuring time versus money, this
research further contributes to the understanding of the effects of asking questions and
measuring intentions. In particular, how behavior is affected depends on the specific
constructs and processes that are activated during the construction of an answer to a
question. The current findings have important implications for research on time, money,
and emotional well-being.
Conception of Time
This research adds to the growing body of work on time and temporal perspective
which shows that time is not merely an accounting unit but has rich emotional
33
associations that influence people’s behavior in a wide range of domains. For example,
thinking of time as expansive versus constrained influences both mindsets (e.g., concrete
mental representations; Malkoc and Zauberman 2006) and the type of goals people value
(e.g., approach and avoidance goals, Mogilner, Aaker, and Pennington 2008; short versus
long-term goals, Liu and Aaker 2007). To illustrate, when time is expansive, people tend
to put greater emphasis on learning goals (Carstensen et al. 1999). However, when time is
seen as limited and coming to an end, people tend to pursue outcomes that are
emotionally meaningful (Williams and Drolet 2005).
Extending these findings, the current research suggests another way by which
perceptions of time may affect behavior—namely, by simply considering how one would
spend time. Thoughts of spending time for a charity appear to activate an emotional
mindset, thereby making salient the connection between personal happiness and
charitable giving—and possibly infecting the desire to achieve meaning and happiness in
life. Building on this framework, future research may examine several interesting
possibilities. For example, although the current research focuses on the charitable
donations context, future work is needed to explore whether a more generic question such
as, “How do you plan to spend your weekend?” may be enough to activate a mindset in
which people are more focused on emotional goals in a subsequent unrelated task
(compared to those who were not asked this question). In addition, people primed with
time may process information in a top-down manner such that they become more focused
on high- rather than low-level goals due to the inherent association of time intentions and
the future (Trope and Liberman 2003). Future research may be conducted to isolate each
of these processes involved in thinking about time.
34
The Psychology of Money and Giving
A growing amount of research has explored the psychological and behavioral
consequences of considering money. For example, when primed with the concept of
money, participants become less helpful and more distant with others as compared to if
they had not been reminded of money (Vohs et al. 2006). Further, participants reminded
of money worked 48% longer before asking for help and were three times more likely to
choose to work alone (compared to participants not reminded of money). In addition,
money leads to greater effort on challenging tasks before asking for help and greater
openness to taking on additional work, two signs of self-sufficiency—a state in which
people are reticent to rely on others and do not want others to rely on them (Vohs et al.
2006; 2007).
These results suggest that money, as activated through subconscious or conscious
means, leads to greater social distance by lessening the need for people to rely on each
other. The current results both dovetail with this recent research and depart from it in
three ways. First, we explore both the psychology of money and time, illustrating that
time-asks lead to distinct effects than money-asks. Of interest is whether the increased
donations given to charity when time is asked represent more collective motives, opposite
of the self-sufficient behaviors shown in the work on money. Second, the behaviors of
interest differ; rather than looking at independence—we focus on donation behavior.
Third is the mechanism by which these effects occur. Our effects, whereby time
questions lead to greater giving than money questions, seem to relate to beliefs in
35
happiness of donating time. Future research may further explore the source of this
happiness. For example, recent work paradoxically finds that people are willing to donate
more when the fundraising process is painful and effortful (Olivola and Shafir 2007).
Thus the source of happiness may lie in the emotional meaning of the act (Carstensen et
al. 1999), rather than hedonic pleasures. And in fact, the opposite appears true—hedonic
pain can deepen the emotional meaning. Additionally, people prefer to give time (over
money) when a charitable cause has high personal significance, further suggesting the tie
between volunteering and one’s self identity and need for emotional meaning (Reed et al.
2007b). More research is needed to unpack the nature of emotional meaning—whether it
stems from social meaning or personal relevance—and to disentangle the role of time
donated versus effort expended.
Emotional Well-Being
This research also contributes to theories of emotional well-being and happiness,
which have been energized by a growing stream of research (Kahneman, Diener, and
Schwarz 1999). This work shows that happiness is derived from multiple sources, beyond
just hedonic pleasures. Accumulating research shows that social interactions, particularly
close friendships and a satisfied love life, are strongly related to subjective happiness
(Lybomirsky 2007).
Adding to this literature, our findings highlight an avenue to happiness that is
often overlooked: people may in fact feel a rush of happiness when they help others
(Gilbert 2006, Williams and Lee 2007). Indeed, recent research relying on fMRIs
36
demonstrates that reward centers in the brain are activated when people help a charity—
even when they do it through paying taxes (Harbaugh et al. 2007). And this rush might be
more likely to occur when people think about the time (versus money) they might give
due to the social and identity implications of volunteering (Reed et al. 2007b). Giving
money, on the other hand, may in fact serve to psychologically separate the donor from
the donee—an implication that falls from the work by Vohs and colleagues (2006; 2007),
and is also consistent with our findings of the negative effect of a money-ask on
donations. More broadly, when does giving money to a charity distance you from that
charity, and when does it draw you closer?
Further, this link between helping and happiness also exists in people’s everyday
intuition about happiness. To illustrate, Oprah Winfrey attested to this lay belief when
she declared on her “favorite give-away” show that “every gift I've ever given has
brought at least as much happiness to me as it has to the person I've given it to.”
However, although this lay theory exists, the current research suggests that this belief
may not always be salient, resulting in “under-helping” or low response to appeals for
help. Yet, under certain circumstances (e.g., when a donation of time is considered), the
link between helping and happiness may become activated, leading to greater amounts of
donation to help those in need -- and, potentially, increased happiness experienced by the
donor.
Finally, future research is needed to explore the nature of the bi-directional
relationship between happiness and giving. Extant work shows that, relative to unhappy
people, happy people invest more hours in volunteer service (Thoits and Hewitt 2001)
and volunteer at higher levels for charity and community service groups, including
37
religious, political, educational and health-related organizations (Krueger, Hicks and
McGue 2001). Thus, those who are happy seem more inclined to help others. Our
research complements this stream by demonstrating that those who are asked to give time
endorse the belief that happiness is linked to volunteering—suggesting a cyclical effect
between happiness and volunteering. In this relationship, which is the stronger driver and
starting point of the feedback loop: feeling happy or giving time?
Caveats and Calls for Future Research
This research was inspired in part by calls for more research on charitable giving
and insights into consumer welfare and happiness (Kasser and Kanner 2004; Mick 1999).
Our findings and methods, however, are not without their limitations. First, whereas the
enhanced belief about the happiness associated with giving is posited to underlie the
effect, what remains unclear is the nature of the happiness generated. Is the happiness
generated by increased self-esteem and the feeling of self-satisfaction? What are the
specific emotions accompanying it—pride and elation, or peacefulness and harmony
(Williams and Aaker 2002)? How does the happiness associated with donating time differ
from the feelings associated with donating money (e.g., Reed et al. 2007a; 2007b)? To
address these questions, measures of both pure and mixed emotions are needed, as are
measures tapping the degree to which the self is activated when charitable donations are
given.
A second area of murkiness is the psychological processes in the money-ask-first
condition. We provided evidence that emotional goals and the link between helping and
38
happiness are not as salient in the money-ask-first condition as in the time-ask-first
condition. In fact, emotional goals may be suppressed compared to the control condition
(where no intention questions were asked), as suggested by the reduced amount of
donation in the money-ask-first condition compared to the control condition in
experiment 2. However, direct evidence is needed to show (a) that the goal of utility
maximization is heightened at the expense of happiness goals in the money-ask-first
condition, and (b) whether the utility maximization goal is more unambiguous (Okada
and Hoch 2004) in the money-ask rather than time-ask condition.
Third, although this research shows that the beliefs of happiness mediate the
effect of the time-ask effect, direct evidence for a shift towards an emotional mindset is
lacking—leaving open the possibility that other mechanisms related to positive emotions
may be operating. As one example, priming of time may activate specific experiential
goals (Van Boven and Gilovich 2003), such as having a good time working with other
people, rather than a general emotional mindset. In experiment 3, we found suggestive
evidence that a time-ask may increase the ease of imagining oneself contributing. Indeed,
even though this imagery of helping did not mediate the effect of time-ask on eventual
donation, the role of increased ease of representation of action due to time-ask is an
interesting area for future research. As another example of the positive effect of time-ask,
the mention of time may also activate one’s ideal versus pragmatic self, whereby giving
to charity is consistent with the ideal self. Indeed, such an accessible ideal self-view may
be part and parcel of the mindset induced by the time-ask.
More generally, boundary conditions to the time-ask effect shown here need
empirical illumination. In particular, future research is needed to examine how long the
39
activation and hence the measurement effect lasts (Dholakia and Morwitz 2002). Second,
more work is needed to examine whether the time-ask effect applies to all types of
charitable causes. Of note, although the current studies focus on helping lung cancer
patients and children with chronic illness, we have replicated the effect for other non-
profit charities operating outside the domain of health (e.g., environmental protection,
education). Still, future research needs to determine whether the time-ask effect and the
same underlying mechanism apply across various pro-social contexts.
Finally, this paper has important practical implications for both profit and non-
profit social organizations interested in cultivating ways to more effectively raise funds.
For example, Microsoft recently advised its employees to donate to charity through
volunteering their expertise rather than money (Yao 2006). Similarly, the non-profit
organization MoveOn.org reaches out to potential voters in the Democratic party by
asking them to volunteer a few minutes to call their families and friends to get the word
out, rather than to donate money to the platforms (e.g., providing a “Make Calls” link,
rather than a “Donate Here” link; http://pol.moveon.org/phone/volunteer/?id=9347-
5286855-uid9whrLeZf9Dlh9vJlh6w&t=2). The current research suggests that such
policies may not just impact volunteering behavior; they may have the independent, and
perhaps inadvertent, effect of also increasing the levels of monetary donations. From a
policy maker’s point of view, this research suggests that volunteering for one’s
community should receive more attention due to its potential dual impact on both greater
pro-social behavior as well as the ensuing happiness for the donor. Thus, this research
provides a practical suggestion for increasing pro-social behavior and happiness: We
should think about time, and not money.
40
APPENDIX
HOPELAB STIMULI FOR EXPERIMENT 2 AND EXPERIMENT 3
41
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48
FIGURE 1
THEORETICAL MODEL
Time-Ask
Emotional
Mindset
Actual
Contribution
Value
Maximization
Mindset
Money-Ask
“Giving Leads
to Happiness”
+
_
49
... In the absence of reciprocity, the relationship dissolves. In general, the act of giving is positively associated with gratitude, being appreciated, generosity and altruism (Bennett and Sargeant, 2005;Marcoux, 2009), all of which can produce positive emotional value such as feelings of happiness and well-being for the giver (Liu and Aaker, 2008). However, giving can produce a range of negative feelings, including disappointment, anxiety, embarrassment, enslavement and vulnerability (Joy, 2001), thereby indicating a dark side as well. ...
... Personal/situational factors Personal/situational factors in this study are represented by four variables drawn from the charitable giving and volunteerism literatureintrinsic motivation, need for personal recognition and appreciation and philanthropic predisposition (Babin et al., 1994;Bekkers and Schuyt, 2008;Bekkers and Wiepking, 2011;Brady et al., 2002;Farmer and Fedor, 2001;Liu and Aaker, 2008;Sargeant, 1999;Winterich et al., 2013;Wood et al., 2007). Motivation is the force that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. ...
... In this regard, a philanthropic predisposition that endorses pro-social values generally has a positive impact on charitable giving (Brady et al., 2002). The underlying mechanism is linked to the mindset activated by the thought of giving time rather than money (Liu and Aaker, 2008). As people's representations of time are more strongly associated with an emotional meaning, volunteering time makes emotional significance salient. ...
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... However, there are numerous instances in which an experience may contain negative and positive aspects and we believe that contributing time for charity is one of them. Giving away time for the benefit of others entails sacrificing valuable resources that could otherwise be spent on the self, but it also entails numerous benefits for the giver, including self-efficacy (Mogilner, Chance, & Norton, 2012), stronger interpersonal connections (Liu & Aaker, 2008), and happiness (Aaker et al., 2011). ...
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... Since donations of time are more compromising than money donations, the decision-making process can differ. Donations of time procure greater satisfaction than donations of money, being the latter more of a rational rather than emotional decision (Liu and Aaker 2008). The emotional dimensions of nonprofit brands are more likely to exert a stronger influence on intentions to donate time than functional dimensions do (Michel and Rieunier 2012). ...
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... Prosocial behavior often involves some cost to the agent in the form of sacri ce of time or money to bene t others (Liu and Aaker 2008). However, this research compares consumer preference between sustainable and regular luxury, which does not involve a trade-off between delayed payoffs and immediate costs. ...
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... Almost all interviewees reported that the experience of supporting a crowdfunding project was associated with feelings of happiness. The acts of "doing good" and "helping others" (Liu and Aaker, 2008) generate Positive emotions. Hence, we suggest as follows: ...
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... We also measured response efficacy (Cryder et al. 2013), need for uniqueness (Lynn and Harris 1997), consumer guilt (Bennett et al. 2013), perceived need (Lee et al. 2014), and perceived credibility of the charity (Newell and Goldsmith 2001). Additionally, we controlled for money and time scarcity to avoid budget/time constraint effects (Liu and Aaker 2008) and collected information on age, gender, income, and ethnicity. ...
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