Fundraisers might want to make a note of this.
Men give more generously to fundraising campaigns if they see that other men have donated large amounts and if the fundraiser is an attractive woman, a new study published in Current Biology has found.
Researchers from University College London (UCL) and the University of Bristol say this “competitive helping” exists in the human subconscious because it was evolutionarily beneficial.
The scientists wanted to find out why people behave generously in situations when there is no obvious benefit to them in doing so. And according to a co-author of the study, UCL’s Nichola Raihani, this competitive generosity is more of a male trait (although they don’t specify whether sexual orientation plays a part).
“We found a remarkably strong response with men competing to advertise generosity to attractive women, but didn’t see women reacting in a similar way. Showing competitive helping is more a male than female trait,” she said.
Raihani used online fundraising pages from the 2014 London marathon and had 668 participants rate the attractiveness of the fundraiser. Personal information such as the name and gender of fundraiser and a photo are present on the pages, as well as the name and gender of other donors and how much they have given.
They found that when the fundraiser was an attractive woman (attractiveness, according to the researchers, had a lot to do with facial expressions such as smiling), men would compete with one another and make larger donations.
“Fundraising pages provide a fascinating real-life laboratory for looking at charity donations. Previously, we saw how donors responded to how much other people had given. Now we see that the response depends — albeit subconsciously — on the fundraiser’s attractiveness,” said co-author Sarah Smith of the University of Bristol.