It could have been me: Proximity motivates disaster giving

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Effects of physical proximity of potential donors to a disaster location were studied. Physical proximity increased counterfactual thoughts, that is, thoughts that the donors themselves might have suffered from the event if the circumstances had been a bit different. Counterfactuals, in turn, increased reported willingness to help the victims of the disaster. The same effects were found for hypothetical proximity, in the form of a desire to visit the impacted location before the disaster occurred. The pattern was consistent across five correlational and experimental studies, which focused on a range of real-life and fictitious disasters. The findings are important because they can explain why people and governments often dwell on relatively minor problems at home rather than thousands of people suffering and dying overseas. The findings also suggest an easy and cost-effective way of boosting donations to disaster victims.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1587
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing
Issue number1
Early online date7 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

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