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How did it feel? Affect as a feedback system in repeated donation decisions
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology  (IF3.603),  Pub Date : 2021-08-02, DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2021.104203
Shirley Shlefer, Tehila Kogut

We examined how people's emotional experience in the wake of past donation decisions affect their future decisions. Building upon emotion-as-information theories we hypothesized and found that past affective reactions serve as a feedback system in predicting future donation decisions. In five studies, by manipulating or measuring participants' affective reaction in the wake of past decisions to donate (or not), we found that feeling good about the past decision encouraged them to respond in similar fashion to a subsequent appeal. Conversely, when participants felt bad about their decision in response to a donation appeal in the past, they were likely to take the opposite course of action. This pattern occurred irrespective of the perceived importance of the donation cause or social desirability. A similar pattern was obtained in Study 6—a longitudinal, online study, that simulated a “real life” situation, in which participants were asked for a donation on two separate occasions. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings.