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Open AccessArticle

Dual-Process Reasoning in Charitable Giving: Learning from Non-Results

Florida State University, Department of Economics, Bellamy Building, Tallahassee, FL 32306-2180, USA
University of Amsterdam, Center for Research in Experimental Economics and Political Decision Making (CREED), Tinbergen Institute; PO Box 1551, Amsterdam 1001 NB, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Games 2017, 8(3), 36;
Received: 26 April 2017 / Revised: 13 August 2017 / Accepted: 17 August 2017 / Published: 21 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics, Morality, and Game Theory)
PDF [317 KB, uploaded 21 August 2017]


To identify dual-process reasoning in giving, we exposed experimental participants making a charitable donation to vivid images of the charity’s beneficiaries in order to stimulate affect. We hypothesized that the effect of an affective manipulation on giving would be larger when we simultaneously put the subjects under cognitive load using a numerical recall task. Independent treatment checks reveal opposite responses in men and women and cast some doubt on the reliability of our mainstream treatment manipulations and assessment tools. We find no evidence for dual-process decision-making, even among women, whose responses to the manipulations conformed most to our expectations. These results highlight the need for caution in the use of these common manipulations, the importance of independent manipulation checks, and the limitations of dual-process models for understanding altruistic behavior. View Full-Text
Keywords: cognitive load; dual-process; charitable giving; dictator games; experimental economics cognitive load; dual-process; charitable giving; dictator games; experimental economics

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Grossman, Z.; Van der Weele, J.J. Dual-Process Reasoning in Charitable Giving: Learning from Non-Results. Games 2017, 8, 36.

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