Charitable maximizers: The impact of the maximizing mindset on donations to human recipients

Jingjing Ma*, Yu (Anna) Lin, Danit Ein-Gar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The majority of donations are dedicated to helping human recipients. Building on prior literature that demonstrates the role of downward social comparisons between donors and donation recipients in elevating willingness to help those in need, we propose that a maximizing mindset increases such downward social comparisons, which in turn promote donations to human recipients. A set of seven studies, including online and field experiments and a secondary dataset, provides convergent support for the effect of the maximizing mindset (whether measured as an inherent individual difference or activated as a temporary mindset) on donations and the mediating role of downward social comparisons. This research enriches the understanding of donations to human recipients by showing that donations can be enhanced by a maximizing mindset. Our findings offer important insights to donation-raising agencies. Specifically, activating the maximizing mindset among prospective donors—by embedding certain words in donation appeals or encouraging donors to think about their best choices in everyday life—could benefit charities and social-cause platforms in their efforts to raise donations to support the needy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Research in Marketing
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Charitable behavior
  • Donation
  • Downward social comparison
  • Maximizing mindset


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