All we need is love?

French researchers say that adding the text “donating=loving” to a charitable collection box almost doubled the amount of money they raised.

Nicolas Guéguen and Lubomir Lamy placed opaque collection boxes in 14 bakeries in Brittany for two weeks. All the boxes featured the following text in French: “Women students in business trying to organise a humanitarian action in Togo. We are relying on your support”, together with a picture of a young African woman with an infant in her arms. Some boxes had this additional text in French just below the money slot: “DONATING=LOVING”; others had the text “DONATING=HELPING”; whilst others had no further text below the slot. Different box types were placed in different bakeries on different days and the amount of money collected each day was recorded.

Their results found that the text on the donation boxes made a profound difference. On average, almost twice as much money was raised daily in boxes with the “donating=loving” text, as compared with the “donating=helping” boxes Guéguen and Lamy think that the word “loving” acts as a prime, activating related concepts such as compassion, support and solidarity, and thereby encourages behaviour consistent with those ideas. Such an explanation would fit the wider literature showing how our motivations and attitudes can be influenced by words and objects without us realising it.

source: British Psychological Society Research Digest & cited December 2011

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