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Perceived Utility (not Sympathy) Mediates the Proportion Dominance Effect in Helping Decisions

Erlandsson, Arvid LU ; Björklund, Fredrik LU and Bäckström, Martin LU (2014) In Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 27(1). p.37-47
Abstract
The proportion dominance effect (PDE) refers to a higher motivation to help when the victims are part of a small (you can help 56 out of 60) rather than a large (you can help 56 out of 560) reference group. In two studies using different experimental paradigms, we investigated possible mediators of the PDE. Study 1 (N = 168) was conducted in three separate steps in order to test each link of the mediator model independently. Students read six vignettes where it was possible to help a fixed number of victims but where the size of the reference group was either small or large. When the reference group was small, helping motivation and perceived utility were higher, whereas sympathy towards the victims and perceived rights were not. A... (More)
The proportion dominance effect (PDE) refers to a higher motivation to help when the victims are part of a small (you can help 56 out of 60) rather than a large (you can help 56 out of 560) reference group. In two studies using different experimental paradigms, we investigated possible mediators of the PDE. Study 1 (N = 168) was conducted in three separate steps in order to test each link of the mediator model independently. Students read six vignettes where it was possible to help a fixed number of victims but where the size of the reference group was either small or large. When the reference group was small, helping motivation and perceived utility were higher, whereas sympathy towards the victims and perceived rights were not. A within-subject mediation analysis showed that perceived utility mediated the PDE. Study 2 (N = 36) presented four versions of a single helping-situation in a joint evaluation mode where the size of the reference group got gradually smaller in each version. All participants compared and responded to each version. Helping motivation increased as the reference group got smaller, and this effect was mediated by perceived utility rather than by distress, sympathy or perceived responsibilities. Our results suggest that unlike e.g. the identifiability and singularity effects, which have been suggested to be mediated by emotional reactions, the PDE is mediated by perceived utility. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
helping motivation, identifiable victim effect, perceived utility, proportion dominance effect, sympathy
in
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making
volume
27
issue
1
pages
37 - 47
publisher
John Wiley & Sons
external identifiers
  • wos:000328541400004
  • scopus:84890370318
ISSN
1099-0771
DOI
10.1002/bdm.1789
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
9adf7d11-17b1-49b7-9adb-9d5c5e2e08f7 (old id 3516032)
date added to LUP
2013-03-08 08:59:55
date last changed
2017-02-19 03:01:36
@article{9adf7d11-17b1-49b7-9adb-9d5c5e2e08f7,
  abstract     = {The proportion dominance effect (PDE) refers to a higher motivation to help when the victims are part of a small (you can help 56 out of 60) rather than a large (you can help 56 out of 560) reference group. In two studies using different experimental paradigms, we investigated possible mediators of the PDE. Study 1 (N = 168) was conducted in three separate steps in order to test each link of the mediator model independently. Students read six vignettes where it was possible to help a fixed number of victims but where the size of the reference group was either small or large. When the reference group was small, helping motivation and perceived utility were higher, whereas sympathy towards the victims and perceived rights were not. A within-subject mediation analysis showed that perceived utility mediated the PDE. Study 2 (N = 36) presented four versions of a single helping-situation in a joint evaluation mode where the size of the reference group got gradually smaller in each version. All participants compared and responded to each version. Helping motivation increased as the reference group got smaller, and this effect was mediated by perceived utility rather than by distress, sympathy or perceived responsibilities. Our results suggest that unlike e.g. the identifiability and singularity effects, which have been suggested to be mediated by emotional reactions, the PDE is mediated by perceived utility.},
  author       = {Erlandsson, Arvid and Björklund, Fredrik and Bäckström, Martin},
  issn         = {1099-0771},
  keyword      = {helping motivation,identifiable victim effect,perceived utility,proportion dominance effect,sympathy},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {37--47},
  publisher    = {John Wiley & Sons},
  series       = {Journal of Behavioral Decision Making},
  title        = {Perceived Utility (not Sympathy) Mediates the Proportion Dominance Effect in Helping Decisions},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bdm.1789},
  volume       = {27},
  year         = {2014},
}