Kind of them

Kevin Lewis

April 15, 2018

People in more racially diverse neighborhoods are more prosocial
Jared Nai et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, April 2018, Pages 497-515


Five studies tested the hypothesis that people living in more diverse neighborhoods would have more inclusive identities, and would thus be more prosocial. Study 1 found that people residing in more racially diverse metropolitan areas were more likely to tweet prosocial concepts in their everyday lives. Study 2 found that following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, people in more racially diverse neighborhoods were more likely to spontaneously offer help to individuals stranded by the bombings. Study 3 found that people living in more ethnically diverse countries were more likely to report having helped a stranger in the past month. Providing evidence of the underlying mechanism, Study 4 found that people living in more racially diverse neighborhoods were more likely to identify with all of humanity, which explained their greater likelihood of having helped a stranger in the past month. Finally, providing causal evidence for the relationship between neighborhood diversity and prosociality, Study 5 found that people asked to imagine that they were living in a more racially diverse neighborhood were more willing to help others in need, and this effect was mediated by a broader identity. The studies identify a novel mechanism through which exposure to diversity can influence people, and document a novel consequence of this mechanism.

The Changing Effectiveness of Local Civic Action: The Critical Nexus of Community and Organization
Wesley Longhofer, Giacomo Negro & Peter Roberts
Administrative Science Quarterly, forthcoming


We examine changes in the effectiveness of local civic action in relation to changes over time in racial diversity and income inequality. Local civic action comprises situations in which community members come together - typically with support from local organizations - to address common issues. The collective orientation of local civic action makes it sensitive to changes in local social conditions. As these changes unfold, local organizations become differentially able to support civic action. Here, our core argument features the process through which community members associate with different local organizations and how mandated versus voluntary association results in distinct responses to increased social and economic heterogeneity. We test this argument using three decades of data describing local campaigns of the annual Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF program. A baseline model shows that within-county increases in racial diversity and income inequality are associated with diminished campaign effectiveness. Subsequent models that separate out campaigns organized by schools, churches, and clubs show that schools are relatively more effective mobilizers as racial diversity and income inequality increase, arguably due to the greater demographic matching that is induced by mandated school participation.

How Can Bill and Melinda Gates Increase Other People's Donations to Fund Public Goods?
Dean Karlan & John List
University of Chicago Working Paper, March 2018


We conducted two matching grant experiments with an international development charity. The primary experiment finds that a matching grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation raises more funds than a matching grant from an anonymous donor. The effect persists and is strongest for donors who previously gave to other poverty-oriented charities. Combining these insights with survey results, we conclude that our matching gift primarily works through a quality signal mechanism. Overall, the results help to clarify why people give to charity, what models help to describe those motivations, and how practitioners can leverage economics to increase their fundraising potential.

Sharing good fortune: Effects of scarcity on small donation requests
Therese Louie & Rick James Rieta
Social Influence, forthcoming


Based on studies linking positive outcomes to subsequent helping, it was hypothesized that when individuals receive their choice of items when supply is constrained they will show heightened prosocial behavior. Participants either received a choice of candy when it was plentiful, a choice of candy under scarce conditions, or no option to choose between candies under scarce conditions. All were subsequently invited to keep previously acquired school supplies or to donate them back. As hypothesized, when participants received their choice of candy their donation rate was higher in the scarce, versus the non-scarce, condition. Those not receiving choice due to scarcity behaved similarly to those who received choice under the condition of plenty. Discussion focuses on applications to encourage helpfulness.

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