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
Supply Chain's Preciado Honored for Teaching Excellence 29 Jul

Felisa Preciado, clinical associate professor of supply chain management, has been named the 2014 recipient of the Penn State Smeal College of Business Fred Brand Jr. Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Summer Business Program for High Schoolers Facilitates Diverse Penn State Network 28 Jul

The Business Opportunities Summer Session (BOSS) Program, facilitated by the Penn State Smeal College of Business’ Diversity Enhancement Programs, connects underrepresented high school students with current Penn Staters and alumni to provide an inside look at the business majors and beyond. Currently in its eighth year, the program is helping to create a powerful network as it continues to share the value of a Smeal education with a diverse population.

Why Aren't Consumers Buying Remanufactured Products? 28 Jul

Firms looking to increase market share of remanufactured consumer products will have to overcome a big barrier to do so, according to a recent study from the Penn State Smeal College of Business. Findings from faculty members Meg Meloy and V. Daniel R. Guide, Jr., indicate that consumers perceive many categories of remanufactured products as dirty and disgusting.

Penn State President Emeritus Rodney Erickson Joins Smeal Executive MBA Students in Celebration 25 Jul Penn State President Emeritus Rodney Erickson Joins Smeal Executive MBA Students in Celebration

About 30 students celebrated their completion of the Penn State Smeal Executive MBA Program last month in a pre-commencement ceremony held at the Business Building on Penn State’s University Park campus, with former University president Rodney Erickson delivering the commencement speech.

Smeal's Multimedia Team Recognized for Providing Valuable Student Service 24 Jul

A group of Smeal College of Business staff members were recently recognized for their efforts to provide students with professional portraits for their LinkedIn profiles. The Penn State Information Technology Resource Responsibility award was granted to the Resource, Instruction, and Information Technology (RIIT) Group’s Multimedia Team.

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