The Decision to Donate: An Application of Dual Process Theory
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The aim of this study was to examine the effects that personality and decision-making behavior have on charitableness. We assessed the personalities of our participants by running a series of personality tests based on psychometrics such as the Big Five personality traits. Participants then completed three decision-making tasks: the Delayed Discounting Task (DDT), the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), and the Su-Chow Gambling Task (SGT). In each of these tasks, the options the participant chooses are correlated with certain rewards which accumulate as the participant continues to win. Lastly, participants were given the opportunity to donate a portion of their winnings to the Brazos Valley Food Bank, an operationalization of charitableness. There are no significant correlations between SGT or IGT net score and donation amount or decision to donate (p>.30). However, a logistic regression with the Big Five personality traits predicting decision to donate, revealed a significant main effect of agreeableness (ß=-19, p=.02), extraversion (ß=.16, p=.02), and a marginally significant effect of openness (ß=-.09, p=.055). A logistic regression for substance abuse predicting donation decision revealed a significant main effect (ß=.04, p=.04). There is also a marginally significant correlation between donation amount and substance abuse (r=-.22, p>.09). These results suggest that prosocial behavior, such as donating to charity, is impacted more by automatic, unconscious ways of thinking, embedded in our personality, than by the more effortful and complex thinking required in decision-making.
Boachie-Mensah, Michael (2017). The Decision to Donate: An Application of Dual Process Theory. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from