Charitable Intent: A Moral or Social Construct? A Revised Theory of Planned Behavior Model.

Current Psychology, 2011.


Given an increasing global need to elicit and stimulate charitable giving and in light of the limited social-psychological research on this subject, this study contributes to a better empirical understanding of the factors that underlie charitable giving (intentions). In contrast to previous research, it was hypothesized that moral norms rather than social norms are likely to play a significant role in the formation of charitable intentions. An extended Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) model was constructed in order to test the influence of six social-psychological variables on an individual’s intention to donate to charity. Respondents (N = 143) completed an online questionnaire about charitable behaviour that assessed the constructs of the revised model. The present study found support for the stated hypothesis: while social norms (both descriptive and prescriptive) did not explain any of the variance in intention, moral norms accounted for a significant amount of the overall variance and were in fact identified as the strongest (relative) predictor of charitable giving intentions. In addition to moral norms, ‘attitude’, ‘perceived behavioral control’ and ‘past behaviour’ were also identified as significant predictors. The findings in this study support a revised TPB model that accounts for nearly 70% of the explained variance in charitable intent. Implications for both theory and practice are discussed.

Sander Van Der Linden