A Neuroimaging Analysis of Volunteering Time and Giving Money: How Visual Self-Referencing and Cognitive Complexity May Explain Behavioral Differences

28 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2017

See all articles by Russell N. James

Russell N. James

Texas Tech University

Pamala Wiepking

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam - Department of Philanthropic Studies

Michael W. O'Boyle

Texas Tech University

Date Written: 12 21, 2017

Abstract

Previous research has identified significant differences in consumer attitudes resulting from focusing on time or focusing on money. Most commonly, these differences are ascribed to a more emotional mindset engendered by time contemplation. We investigate this hypothesis using functional magnetic resonance imaging with 36 participants who were scanned while making decision to volunteer time or give money to charitable organizations. Decisions to volunteer time more strongly activated areas in the precuneus, a region associated with taking an outside perspective on one’s self. This heightened self-referencing could be an alternative to heightened emotions as an explanation for behavioral differences resulting from focusing on time rather than money. Additionally, decisions to volunteer time appear more cognitively complex as shown by greater activation in the superior/middle frontal gyrus and mid-cingulate gyrus. Greater projected likelihood of volunteering is associated with a stronger internal visualization element.

Keywords: Volunteering, Charitable Giving, Philanthropy, Neuroimaging, fMRI

JEL Classification: D64

Suggested Citation

James, Russell N. and Wiepking, Pamala and O'Boyle, Michael W., A Neuroimaging Analysis of Volunteering Time and Giving Money: How Visual Self-Referencing and Cognitive Complexity May Explain Behavioral Differences (12 21, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3091794 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3091794

Russell N. James (Contact Author)

Texas Tech University ( email )

2500 Broadway
Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

Pamala Wiepking

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam - Department of Philanthropic Studies ( email )

De Boelelaan 1081
Amsterdam, ND North Holland 1081 HV
Netherlands
+31 20 598 6922 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.wiepking.com

Michael W. O'Boyle

Texas Tech University ( email )

2500 Broadway
Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

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