When public recognition for charitable giving backfires: The role of independent self-construal

Bonnie Simpson, Katherine White, Juliano Laran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


This research examines the effectiveness of public recognition in encouraging charitable giving, demonstrating that public recognition can sometimes decrease donations. While previous work has largely shown that making donations visible to others can motivate donors, the present research shows that the effectiveness of public recognition depends on whether potential donors are under an independent (i.e., separate from others) or interdependent (i.e., connected with others) selfconstrual. Across seven experimental studies, an independent self-construal decreases donation intentions and amounts when the donor will receive public recognition compared to when the donation will remain private. This effect is driven by the activation of an agentic motive, wherein independents are motivated to make decisions that are guided by their own goals and self-interests, rather than being influenced by the opinions and expectations of others. This research contributes to the understanding of the nuanced roles of both public recognition and self-construal in predicting donation behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1257-1273
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Agency
  • Charitable donations
  • Public recognition
  • Self-construal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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