We explored how different types of audio-visual media content impacted charitable donations using a lab experiment. Subjects chose to donate to a charity in a modified dictator game, after being randomly assigned to watch videos featuring either a non-charismatic species (Bats), a charismatic species (Lions) a composite habitat composed of both species (Bats and Lions in the Savanna), with and without additional content on the anthropogenic cause of endangerment. In addition to this, a subset of subjects was offered public recognition alongside videos. We found media content influences pro-social behaviour on both the intensive and extensive margins of giving: videos with charismatic Lions increased the probability of donating (intensive margin of giving), but content about human cause of endangerment, increased the amount donated conditional on having decided to donate (extensive margin of giving). There is heterogeneity in treatment effects based on past pro-social behaviour: public recognition increases donations only for those reporting donating to charities in the past.

Ganga Shreedhar and Susana Mourato, Ecological Economics, Volume 158, April 2019, Pages 180-193

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