This study investigated the psychological mechanisms that influence and predict willingness to make small donations to political campaigns. The present study applied previously established psychological mechanisms of charitable giving to the political giving realm to see if they were as applicable. The primary hypothesis was that people would be more willing to donate when their preferred candidate was behind in the race by only a narrow margin (vs. a wider one). We presented participants (N = 150) with a hypothetical gubernatorial candidate asking for donations in the form of a mailing. We manipulated polling information, telling one group that the target candidate was far behind the challenger and the other group that he was in a tight race. We measured donation willingness and three psychological mechanisms of charitable giving (perceived efficacy, values, and warm glow benefits) as well as personal importance of politics. Results indicate significant main effects of perceived efficacy, warm glow, and importance of politics on donation willingness. Results also indicated a significant interaction between polling information and political party on donation willingness, suggesting that the more Republican participants were more affected by the polling information than the more Democrat participants. Implications and future research are discussed.


Luttrell, Andrew



Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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