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Exemplars and the Application of the Desert Heuristic When Responding to Fundraising Attempts
Unformatted Document Text:  16 Experiment 4 This experiment was designed to address two questions. First, does priming of the desert heuristic lead to a stronger effect of the responsibility manipulation? Second, does application of the desert heuristic depend on the extent to which a culture is more masculine or more feminine? To answer the first question, a strategy described by Chaiken (1987) was employed. She primed certain heuristics by having participants read proverbs expressing these heuristics. To address the second question, the experiment was conducted in two different cultures, the Netherlands and Flanders (the Dutch speaking part of Belgium). According to Hofstede (2001, p. 286), the Netherlands is a much more feminine culture than Flanders. The former only ranks 51 in Hofstede’s list of 53 countries, whereas Flanders ranks 22. (By comparison, the US holds the 15 th position.) In our experiment, we had participants indicate the extent to which they agreed with the meaning expressed by the proverbs. Apart from priming the desert heuristic, this task had an additional advantage. It enabled us to check whether the expected cultural difference between Dutch and Flemish participants did indeed exist. That is, if the Dutch and Flemish culture differs with respect to masculinity, than we would expect the Flemish participants to agree more strongly with the meaning of the proverbs expressing the desert heuristic. Method Material There were two sets of materials in this experiment: two versions of a fundraising letter and ten proverbs. A fundraising letter for a fictitious organization was chosen because it enabled us to use exactly the same letter in the Netherlands as in Flanders. The results in the previous experiment showed that knowing the organization had no impact on the decision to donate money. In the letter, the organization was presented as a recently started society for heart patients. The responsibility manipulation was the same as in the second experiment in which the pre-test showed that patients who owed their heart problems to an unhealthy life style were held more responsible than patients who suffered from heart problems as a result of hereditary causes. The fundraising letters contained five paragraphs and the two versions differed only on three sentences of the third paragraph. In the not-responsible version, these sentences read: “Marc is from a family of heart patients. His father died young due to a heart attack and his two younger brothers also have serious heart conditions. He is the victim of a hereditary disease.” The responsible version contained the following three sentences instead: “Marc smoked heavily and liked to drink beer. His physician had warned him that this behavior could cause serious health problems. He is the victim of his own lifestyle.” In the original Dutch versions, the different versions were matched for the number of words. Ten proverbs were selected. Two of these proverbs expressed something like “you only got what you deserved”, namely “Eigen schuld, dikke bult” and “Wie zijn billen heeft gebrand,

Authors: Hoeken, Hans. and Hustinx, Lettica.
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16
Experiment 4

This experiment was designed to address two questions. First, does priming of the desert
heuristic lead to a stronger effect of the responsibility manipulation? Second, does
application of the desert heuristic depend on the extent to which a culture is more masculine
or more feminine?
To answer the first question, a strategy described by Chaiken (1987) was employed. She
primed certain heuristics by having participants read proverbs expressing these heuristics.
To address the second question, the experiment was conducted in two different cultures, the
Netherlands and Flanders (the Dutch speaking part of Belgium). According to Hofstede
(2001, p. 286), the Netherlands is a much more feminine culture than Flanders. The former
only ranks 51 in Hofstede’s list of 53 countries, whereas Flanders ranks 22. (By comparison,
the US holds the 15
th
position.)
In our experiment, we had participants indicate the extent to which they agreed with the
meaning expressed by the proverbs. Apart from priming the desert heuristic, this task had an
additional advantage. It enabled us to check whether the expected cultural difference
between Dutch and Flemish participants did indeed exist. That is, if the Dutch and Flemish
culture differs with respect to masculinity, than we would expect the Flemish participants to
agree more strongly with the meaning of the proverbs expressing the desert heuristic.
Method

Material

There were two sets of materials in this experiment: two versions of a fundraising letter and
ten proverbs.

A fundraising letter for a fictitious organization was chosen because it enabled us to use
exactly the same letter in the Netherlands as in Flanders. The results in the previous
experiment showed that knowing the organization had no impact on the decision to donate
money. In the letter, the organization was presented as a recently started society for heart
patients.
The responsibility manipulation was the same as in the second experiment in which the
pre-test showed that patients who owed their heart problems to an unhealthy life style were
held more responsible than patients who suffered from heart problems as a result of
hereditary causes. The fundraising letters contained five paragraphs and the two versions
differed only on three sentences of the third paragraph. In the not-responsible version, these
sentences read: “Marc is from a family of heart patients. His father died young due to a heart
attack and his two younger brothers also have serious heart conditions. He is the victim of a
hereditary disease.” The responsible version contained the following three sentences
instead: “Marc smoked heavily and liked to drink beer. His physician had warned him that this
behavior could cause serious health problems. He is the victim of his own lifestyle.” In the
original Dutch versions, the different versions were matched for the number of words.

Ten proverbs were selected. Two of these proverbs expressed something like “you only got
what you deserved”, namely “Eigen schuld, dikke bult” and “Wie zijn billen heeft gebrand,


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