Savary, Jennifer, Kelly Goldsmith and Ravi Dhar. Giving Against the Odds: When Highlighting Tempting Alternatives Increases Willingness to Donate. 2015, Journal of Marketing Research PDF

The authors examine how a reference to an unrelated product in the choice context impacts consumers’ likelihood of donating to charity. Building on research on self-signaling, the authors predict that consumers are more likely to give when the donation appeal references a hedonic product, as compared to when a utilitarian product is referenced or when no comparison is provided. They posit that this occurs because referencing a hedonic product during a charitable appeal changes the self-attributions, or self-signaling utility, associated with the choice to donate. A series of hypothetical and real choice experiments demonstrate the predicted effect, and show that the increase in donation rates occurs because the self-attributions signaled by a choice not to donate are more negative in the context of a hedonic reference product. Finally, consistent with these experimental findings, a field experiment shows that referencing a hedonic product during a charitable appeal increases real donation rates in a non-laboratory setting. The authors discuss theoretical implications for both consumer decision making and the self-signaling motives behind prosocial choice.

Savary, Jennifer, Tali Kleiman, Ran R. Hassin, Ravi Dhar.  Positive Consequences of Conflict on Decision Making: When a Conflict Mindset Facilitates Choice.  2015, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General PDF

Much research has shown that conflict is aversive and leads to increased choice deferral. In contrast, we propose that conflict can be beneficial. Specifically exposure to nonconscious goal conflict can activate a mindset that brings with it the procedural benefits of coping with conflict, without the associated costs such as stress and negative affect. In a conflict mindset, then, people should be better able to confront and resolve tradeoffs. We test this proposition in four experiments, and demonstrate that priming conflicting goals before a decision increases choice in domains unrelated to the primed conflict. We further demonstrate that increased choice occurs because people in a conflict mindset process choice information more systematically, ruling out alternative explanations for the results.


Working Papers

Newman, George E. and Jennifer Savary. When do incentives help and when do they hurt? Decision context and its effects on charitable giving., Invited Revision, Journal of Marketing Research

Previous research has found conflicting effects of incentives on charitable giving. For example, some efforts to combine charitable fundraising with material incentives, such as donating part or all of the money from a purchase to charity, appear to have positive effects, while other offers, such as thank-you gifts or offering additional money to the charity, seem to have no effect or even potentially negative ones. This paper attempts to reconcile these findings by proposing and testing an overarching psychological framework to explain the effects of incentive programs on charitable giving. We build on Fiske’s (1992) relationship theory and propose that the framing of offers as donations establishes a “social market,” where charitable giving is more likely to be driven by altruistic motivations, while the framing of offers as purchases cues a more self-interested “monetary market,” where offers are evaluated in terms of a cost-benefit analysis. This framework, in turn, explains the contrasting effects of incentives observed in previous studies as well as several novel predictions about how responsiveness to various incentives may change as a function of interest in the material item.

Frederick, Shane, Daniel Mochon and Jennifer Savary. The Role of Inference in Anchoring Effects.

We attempt to quantify the role of inference in the ‘standard’ anchoring paradigm. We show that anchoring effects are markedly weaker when participants are directly involved in generation of the random number used as a comparative standard.  The customary method used to suppress inferences – telling respondents that the number is randomly generated – is ineffective.