Accepted in Principle
People give more to a person in need when this person’s identity is known. Such altruistic behaviors may arise from a genuine concern for the person, leading people to give. Alternatively, altruistic behavior may also arise from one’s attempt to reduce the guilt of not giving, leading people to give in. Is the increased altruism toward an identified (vs. unidentified) charity recipient driven by a genuine concern for the person or by guilt? The current registered report proposes two studies in which participants make a choice between two options that determine the payoffs for themselves and for a child in need. In study 1, we will implement a 2 (Full Information vs. Hidden Information) x 2 (No Determination vs. Determination) design to test the simple effect of predetermining one victim on altruistic behaviors, and how it interacts with ambiguity. In study 2, we will implement a 2 (Full Information vs. Hidden Information) x 2 (No Identification vs. Identification) design to test the simple effect of identifying information on altruistic behaviors, and how it interacts with ambiguity. We hypothesize that when provided with information about the consequence of their choice for the child, participants will give more to a determined/identified child compared to an undetermined/unidentified child. However, when participants must take action to learn how their choices will influence the outcome for the child, we hypothesize the positive effect of determination/identification will be attenuated. Findings of this registered report will advance our theoretical understanding of the mechanisms leading people to give more to identified others. Such understanding has the potential to carry practical implications for charitable organizations seeking donations.