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Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) Working Paper Series

No 1084:
Subliminal Influence on Generosity

Ola Andersson (), Topi Miettinen, Kaisa Hytönen, Magnus Johannesson and Ute Stephan

Abstract: 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.

Keywords: Charity; Subliminal; Priming; Universalism; Values; Personality; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: C91; D01; D03; (follow links to similar papers)

46 pages, September 18, 2015

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