Working Paper No. 1084

Subliminal Influence on Generosity

Published: September 18, 2015Pages: 46Keywords: Charity; Subliminal; Priming; Universalism; Values; PersonalityJEL-codes: C91; D01; D03
Published version

Subliminal Influence on Generosity Ola Andersson, Topi Miettinen, Kaisa Hytönen, Magnus Johannesson and Ute Stephan


We experimentally prime subjects subliminally prior to charity donation decisions by showing words that have connotations to prosocial values for a very short duration of time (17ms). Our main finding is that, compared to a baseline condition, the prosocial prime increases donations with about 10–17 percent among subjects with strong prosocial preferences.

A similar effect is also found in our data when interacting the prime with the personality characteristic of BigFive agreeableness. We also contribute with providing an arguably better method for testing for "sublimity". The method reveals that some subjects are capable of recognizing some of the prime words, and the results are overall weaker when we control for this capacity.

Ola Andersson

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ola.andersson@ifn.se

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Social Capital and Health

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Martin Ljunge, IFN, is the author of a chapter, "Trust promotes health: addressing reverse causality by studying children of immigrants", in a new book edited by Sherman Folland and Eric Nauenberg. The cutting edge of research is presented, covering the ever-expanding social capital field.

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