A study revealed that the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown a positive effect on Americans--it has made them more generous.
The Good News Network reported that researchers led by Ariel Fridman came out with a study that examined the relationship between generosity and the COVID-19 threat. Fridman first used the data set provided by Charity Navigator, which is the largest charity evaluator in the world.
The Charity Navigator data set involved information gathered from 696,942 individual donations from July 2016 to December 2020. The set was then used alongside a six-month dictator game study-said to be the longest of such a research-that involved 1,003 participants held during the first months of the pandemic.
Published in Springer Nature last March 31, the study "Increased Generosity Under COVID-19 Threat" explained that threats such as wars, natural disasters, and pandemics bring out the good and the worse in people. Specifically, either increased generosity or increased selfishness.
"Consistent with the notion of 'catastrophe compassion' and contrary to some prior research showing a tendency toward self-interested behavior under threat, individuals across both datasets exhibited greater financial generosity when their county experienced COVID-19 threat," the authors said.
"While we find that the presence of threat impacted individual giving, behavior was not sensitive to threat level. Our findings have significant societal implications and advance our understanding of economic and psychological theories of social preferences under threat," they added.
The dictator game study is a game where one player receives $10 that he will decide to divide between himself and a stranger. The study is often used in social science research and results show that the dictator or recipient of the $10 will often give a bigger portion to the stranger.
Based on the Increased Generosity study, a 10% increase in generosity was exhibited by dictators after the pandemic arrived. While the first data set showed that 78% of United States counties threatened by the pandemic increased in total donations during March 2020 as compared to the previous year.
The amount of donations interestingly increased by 32.9% when the counties experienced the highest threat from the virus. This is in contrast to the 28.5% increase recorded when the same counties were under or had no threat from the COVID-19 virus. The dictators also showed they gave more to strangers when the level of threat was highest.
"The increased generosity observed across both datasets is particularly intriguing in light of
expert predictions, based on historical data, that the economic downturn caused by the pandemic would lead to reduced giving, and the fact that a record-high majority of Americans reported a worsening financial situation during the same period," the authors emphasized.
These findings coincided with the "Most Thoughtful Societies Index" conducted by MyPostcard where the United States ranked ninth in the area of Charity at an 88.99 index. The ranking is topped by Indonesia with a perfect index of 100, followed by Australia at 96.58, and the United Kingdom at 96.37. In terms of International Donations, the United States took the top post with a 100 index followed by the United Kingdom at 81.89, and Denmark at 81.81.
MyPostcard explained that their charity score reflected donations made by individuals taken from the survey conducted by The Charities Aid Foundation and sourced from the World Giving Index. The study also highlighted the United States as the country with the most compassionate society where volunteering hours spent are also the highest.