You are here: Home / News Release Archives / 2014 / June / U.S. Donors Offer More Aid in Hopes of Equality

U.S. Donors Offer More Aid in Hopes of Equality

In a forthcoming Journal of Consumer Research article, Penn State Smeal College of Business’ Karen Winterich, assistant professor of marketing, and coauthor Yinlong Zhang of the University of Texas-San Antonio find that people who live in countries that promote equality in power and wealth are more likely to open their wallets for philanthropic causes than their counterparts in countries that expect and accept inequality.
June 20, 2014

In a forthcoming Journal of Consumer Research article, Penn State Smeal College of Business’ Karen Winterich, assistant professor of marketing, and coauthor Yinlong Zhang of the University of Texas-San Antonio find that people who live in countries that promote equality in power and wealth are more likely to open their wallets for philanthropic causes than their counterparts in countries that expect and accept inequality.

“[S]eeking to increase perceptions of responsibility to offer aid can overcome the negative effect of [power distance belief] on charitable giving.”

Across several studies, the authors looked at how a country’s overall power distance—the extent to which a society expects and accepts inequality in power or wealth—impacts prosocial behaviors like donating money, volunteering time, or helping a stranger.

“In a high power distance society, inequality is seen as the basis of societal order,” write the authors. Therefore, individuals with a high power distance belief are less likely to feel responsible for offering charitable behavior that would reduce inequality.

However, Winterich and Zhang noted that power distance only had a negative effect on charitable behavior when the need was controllable. For instance, even in high power distance societies, people tended to be willing to provide assistance for victims of natural disasters. They were less likely to give in situations that were perceived as “controllable” needs, or those where the person who stands to benefit could be interpreted as being “at fault” for his or her situation. In such situations, potential donors in countries with high power distance belief tend to perceive this person’s need as a natural and necessary part of social order.

“[U]ncontrollable need increases feelings of responsibility to offer aid among those who otherwise would not feel responsible to offer aid for a need that is controllable and may simply be part of the accepted inequality in society,” the authors write.

Takeaways for nonprofit organizations include considering the power distance beliefs of the target audience when creating donation appeals. By emphasizing concepts of equality as well as minimizing the idea of social hierarchy, donation appeals may temporarily lower power distance belief, they find. This decrease in power distance should increase donations.

In addition, “seeking to increase perceptions of responsibility to offer aid can overcome the negative effect of [power distance belief] on charitable giving,” the authors write.

“Accepting Inequality Deters Responsibility: How Power Distance Decreases Charitable Behavior,” is forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Research this August. Karen Winterich is an assistant professor of marketing at the Penn State Smeal College of Business. Yinlong Zhang is an associate professor of marketing at the University of Texas San Antonio.

Filed under: , ,
Recent News
Smeal Names Four New Members to Its Board of Visitors 31 Oct

The Penn State Smeal College of Business has named four new members to its Board of Visitors. Joining the board are Jon Grosso, ’89, executive vice president and director of stores for Kohl’s Department Stores; Ron Morgan, ’93, co-founder of MorganFranklin Consulting; Stephen Reeves, ’81, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Enviva Holdings; and Salomon “Sal” Sredni, ’87, chief executive officer of TradeStation Group, Inc.

Deysher Named Alumni Fellow by Penn State Alumni Association 27 Oct

Bryon Deysher, a 1977 graduate of the Penn State Smeal College of Business, was one of 21 Penn State alumni recognized in early October as Alumni Fellow by the Penn State Alumni Association. Deysher is president and chief executive officer of Methods Machine Tools, Inc. and a member of the Smeal Board of Visitors.

Price-Fixing Whistleblower and FBI Informant To Deliver Shoemaker Lecture at Penn State 15 Oct

Mark Whitacre, the corporate whistleblower who revealed price fixing at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and spent more than eight years in federal prison for tax evasion and fraud, will deliver a lecture entitled “When Good Leaders Lose Their Way” from 6 to 7:15 p.m. on Nov. 6 in 100 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus.

Penn State Executive Programs Receives Gold Award for Junior Achievement Partnership 14 Oct

For its work with Junior Achievement USA, Penn State Executive Programs has won Chief Learning Officer magazine's highest executive education partnership award. The 2014 Gold award for Excellence in Academic Partnerships recognizes academic institutions that have partnered in the past year with an organization to teach its employees about a key business issue.

Urban Outfitters, Inc. Chief Development Officer Discusses Leadership and Challenges, Opportunities in the Fashion Retail Industry 10 Oct

David Ziel, chief development officer of Urban Outfitters, Inc., spoke to a full audience in the Struthers Auditorium of the Business Building today, as part of the college’s Executive Insights series.

More Recent News... More Recent News...