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Exemplars and the Application of the Desert Heuristic When Responding to Fundraising Attempts
Unformatted Document Text:  19 exemplar, participants generally held heart patients more responsible for the trouble they were in (Responsible: M = 3.31, SD = 1.57; Not responsible: M = 2.38, SD = 1.43; F (1, 211) = 20.85, p < .001, η 2 = .09), held a less positive attitude toward donating money (Responsible: M = 4.86, SD = 1.15; Not responsible: M = 5.24, SD = 0.99; F (1, 211) = 7.07, p < .01, η 2 = .03), and donated a larger amount of money (Responsible: M = 1.14, SD = 2.20; Not responsible: M = 3.75, SD = 6.76; F (1, 211) = 14.64, p < .001, η 2 = .07). The “intention to donate” data was analyzed using chi-square test. Regardless of nationality, more participants indicated that they would donate money after reading the not-responsible version than after reading the responsible version (Responsible: 33.9%; Not responsible: 51.4%; χ 2 (1) = 6.88, p < .01). When analyzing these data for the Dutch and Flemish participants separately, the test proved significant for the Dutch participants ( χ 2 (1) = 4.01, p < .05) but did not reach conventional levels of significance for the Flemish participants ( χ 2 (1) = 3.30, p = .07, two-tailed test). When comparing the Dutch participants to the Flemish participants, irrespective of the version they had read, more Dutch participants (51.4%) were inclined to donate money than Flemish participants (33.6%; χ 2 (1) = 7.09, p < .01). Discussion Two questions were addressed with respect to the application of the desert heuristic in a fundraising context. First, does priming of the desert heuristic influence the application of the heuristic. This proved not to be the case. The fact that participants had read the relevant proverbs expressing the desert heuristic just before reading and responding to the fundraising letter did not lead to a more frequent or stronger application of the desert heuristic, compared to those who had read the proverbs only after reading and responding to the fundraising letter. It appears as if the fundraising context in itself is strong enough to activate the desert heuristic. The second question was whether the application of the desert heuristic would be culturally dependent. To that end, responses of participants from a masculine culture (Flanders) were compared to those of participants from a feminine culture (The Netherlands). It was believed that male participants from a masculine culture would be more inclined to apply the desert heuristic, whereas the female participants and participants from a more feminine culture would refrain from applying this heuristic. No differences between participants from different cultures were obtained. Regardless of gender or cultural background, participants applied the desert heuristic to form their attitudes and intentions toward the fundraising attempt. The assumption that there is a cultural difference with respect to masculinity was based on the work of Hofstede (1984, 2001). However, there were no effects of nationality on the extent to which participants agreed with the meaning of the proverbs expressing the desert heuristic. This lack of an effect lends support to Smith and Schwartz’ (1997) claim that countries in Western Europe are relatively homogeneous from a cultural perspective. We did find an effect of the responsibility manipulation on the persuasiveness of the fundraising letter. After reading the version with the responsible exemplar, people were less inclined to donate money and, if they did, they indicated that they would donate less money. This pattern of results had only been found in the case of fundraising attempts for less serious problems (obesity, asthma). In the second experiment, no such effect was found for a fundraising letter for patients suffering form heart diseases.

Authors: Hoeken, Hans. and Hustinx, Lettica.
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19
exemplar, participants generally held heart patients more responsible for the trouble they
were in (Responsible: M = 3.31, SD = 1.57; Not responsible: M = 2.38, SD = 1.43; F (1, 211)
= 20.85, p < .001,
η
2
= .09), held a less positive attitude toward donating money
(Responsible: M = 4.86, SD = 1.15; Not responsible: M = 5.24, SD = 0.99; F (1, 211) = 7.07,
p < .01,
η
2
= .03), and donated a larger amount of money (Responsible: M = 1.14, SD = 2.20;
Not responsible: M = 3.75, SD = 6.76; F (1, 211) = 14.64, p < .001,
η
2
= .07).
The “intention to donate” data was analyzed using chi-square test. Regardless of
nationality, more participants indicated that they would donate money after reading the not-
responsible version than after reading the responsible version (Responsible: 33.9%; Not
responsible: 51.4%;
χ
2
(1) = 6.88, p < .01). When analyzing these data for the Dutch and
Flemish participants separately, the test proved significant for the Dutch participants (
χ
2
(1) =
4.01, p < .05) but did not reach conventional levels of significance for the Flemish
participants (
χ
2
(1) = 3.30, p = .07, two-tailed test). When comparing the Dutch participants to
the Flemish participants, irrespective of the version they had read, more Dutch participants
(51.4%) were inclined to donate money than Flemish participants (33.6%;
χ
2
(1) = 7.09, p <
.01).
Discussion

Two questions were addressed with respect to the application of the desert heuristic in a
fundraising context. First, does priming of the desert heuristic influence the application of the
heuristic. This proved not to be the case. The fact that participants had read the relevant
proverbs expressing the desert heuristic just before reading and responding to the
fundraising letter did not lead to a more frequent or stronger application of the desert
heuristic, compared to those who had read the proverbs only after reading and responding to
the fundraising letter. It appears as if the fundraising context in itself is strong enough to
activate the desert heuristic.
The second question was whether the application of the desert heuristic would be
culturally dependent. To that end, responses of participants from a masculine culture
(Flanders) were compared to those of participants from a feminine culture (The Netherlands).
It was believed that male participants from a masculine culture would be more inclined to
apply the desert heuristic, whereas the female participants and participants from a more
feminine culture would refrain from applying this heuristic. No differences between
participants from different cultures were obtained. Regardless of gender or cultural
background, participants applied the desert heuristic to form their attitudes and intentions
toward the fundraising attempt. The assumption that there is a cultural difference with respect
to masculinity was based on the work of Hofstede (1984, 2001). However, there were no
effects of nationality on the extent to which participants agreed with the meaning of the
proverbs expressing the desert heuristic. This lack of an effect lends support to Smith and
Schwartz’ (1997) claim that countries in Western Europe are relatively homogeneous from a
cultural perspective.
We did find an effect of the responsibility manipulation on the persuasiveness of the
fundraising letter. After reading the version with the responsible exemplar, people were less
inclined to donate money and, if they did, they indicated that they would donate less money.
This pattern of results had only been found in the case of fundraising attempts for less
serious problems (obesity, asthma). In the second experiment, no such effect was found for a
fundraising letter for patients suffering form heart diseases.


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