Study finds rich people are generous until they feel like they are in charge

More focused language give a sense of control over the situation.


A new study at Harvard Business School and the University of British Columbia uncovers that rich people are generous, but only if they presume they are in charge.

During the study researchers sent charity donation requests to 12,000 Ivy League alumni who bring in a bare minimum of $100,000 annually.

The team sent requests only to those individuals whose income figures are publicly available due to their relations with public companies. Where they investigated that the language utilized in their requests was linked outright to the amount of money each alumnus was willing to donate.

They drafted two different types of letters requesting for a charitable donation. In which, one was more inclined targeting the individual, here a key sentence was “Sometimes, one person needs to come forward and take individual action.” However, another being a little more obscure with the key sentence “Sometimes, a community needs to come forward to support a common goal.”

Later the researchers sent these letters to the 12,000 alumni and compared the amount they received in two different categories. Where they found the individuals who received the more targeted letter donated an average of $432, while those who received the second version of the letter offered an average of $270.

The study does not offer any specific explanation to why this difference in response occurred for the same purpose. But they suggest, this discrepancy is due to the fact that more targeted letter gave alumni a sense of control over the situation. To be the ‘individual’, they found themselves in charge and responsible for the outcome.

The study published in the journal Plos One.

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