Positive fantasies dampen charitable giving when many resources are demanded

Heather Barry Kappes, Eesha Sharma, Gabriele Oettingen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Previous research found that positive fantasies about an idealized future yield low energy to pursue the fantasized future. We examined how positive fantasies about the resolution of a crisis (i.e., a lack of pain medication in Sierra Leone, the risk of flooding after Hurricane Irene) influence people's agreement to donate to charitable efforts directed at crisis resolution. In three studies, positive fantasies dampened the likelihood of agreeing to donate a relatively large amount of money, effort, or time, but did not affect the likelihood of agreeing to donate a relatively small amount of these resources. The effect of positive fantasies was mediated by perceiving the donation of larger (but not smaller) amounts of resources as overly demanding. These findings suggest that charitable solicitations requesting small donations might benefit from stimulating positive fantasies in potential donors, but those requesting large donations could be hurt.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-135
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013



  • Altruism
  • Charity
  • Fantasy
  • Imagination
  • Thinking about the future

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing

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