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Demanding the Morally Demanding: Gender Differences in Response to Morally Demanding Charitable Solicitations

Speaker: Philipp Schönegger

Abstract: Should we confront people with morally demanding statements to perform certain actions. Specifically, should we tell people that they have a moral obligation to donate to charity? To investigate this question, we conduct an online randomized experiment via Prolific (n=2500) where participants can donate to charity. Using a between-subject design, we provide some participants with the same moral argument as to why they should donate. We then add and vary the level of the moral demandingness to donate across treatments by adding a single sentence. We find that moral arguments increase the amount donated by 51.7%. Further, we find that increasing the level of the moral demandingness does not affect the frequency or amount of donations. However, the highest level of moral demandingness ("You are morally obligated to donate") has disparate effects on men and women. We find that 14% more women make a donation when faced with this nudge of high moral demandingness while men donate 31.9% less. These findings suggest that demanding the morally demanding may have disparate effects on different populations and may as such be applicable only in certain contexts.