Giving, Fast and Slow: Reflection Increases Costly (but Not Uncostly) Charitable Giving

Kellen Mrkva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (SciVal)


Are people intuitively generous or stingy? Does reflection make people more willing to give generous amounts to charity? Findings across the literature are mixed, with many studies finding no clear relationship between reflection and charitable giving (e.g., Hauge, Brekke, Johansson, Johansson-Stenman, & Svedsäter,; Tinghög et al.,), while others find that reflection negatively affects giving (e.g., Small, Loewenstein, & Slovic,), and still others find that reflection is positively associated with giving (e.g., Lohse, Goeschl, & Diederich,). I demonstrate that reflection consistently increases costly giving to charity. In Study 1, people were initially reluctant to give costly amounts of money to charity, but those who reflected about the decision were more willing to give. In Studies 2–3, I isolated the role of costly stakes by randomly assigning people to either an uncostly donation ($0.40) or costly donation condition (e.g., $100), and randomly assigning them to decide under time pressure or after reflecting. Reflection increased their willingness to give costly amounts, but did not influence their willingness to give uncostly amounts. Similarly, the relationship between decision time and giving was positive when the stakes were costly but was relatively flat when the stakes were uncostly (Study 4).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1052-1065
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
Issue number5
Early online date3 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • charitable giving
  • dual process
  • intuition
  • prosocial behavior
  • reflection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Decision Sciences
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management


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