Ein‐Gar, D., Levontin, L., & Kogut, T. (2021). The Adverse Effect of Choice in Donation Decisions. Journal of Consumer Psychology.
Many charitable organizations offer potential donors the option to choose their donation recipients – suggesting that organizations perceive the availability of such choice as beneficial to donation raising.
Building upon research on choice aversion in the context of consumer goods and on the identifiable victim effect in the context of donation giving, we propose that the need to choose one target among multiple needy targets might, in fact, hinder donations.
Results of six studies show that when prospective donors are asked to choose between two similar donation targets, they are more likely to opt out of donating altogether than when asked to donate to a single target.
We show that the effect of choice on opt-out rates in donation settings is driven by the conflict between the wish to be helpful and the wish to be fair.
We further show that when the conflict is resolved and the choice does not raise fairness concerns, the effect is attenuated and opt-out rates decline.