Commentary: Why does it feel good to give to a charitable cause?

31/5/2022 1:12:00 AM

Commentary: Why does it feel good to give to a charitable cause?

Commentary: Why does it feel good to give to a charitable cause?

Some economists call it 'impure altruism” or 'warm-glow giving'. Rather than calculating the most effective target for our donations, instead we give because it feels good to believe we’re doing good, says the Financial Times' Tim Hartford.

LinkedIn LONDON: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner,” wrote Adam Smith, famously, in The Wealth of Nations, “but from their regard to their own interest.Put another way, how many microscopic aerosol particles are the other cyclists in your spin class breathing out into the room? How many is the runner on the nearby treadmill spewing forth? A small study about respiration and exercise published Monday (May 23) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides some rather startling answers.Thank you for your feedback.As a Maritime Patrol Plane Pilot, my flying is much tamer than that in Top Gun , I have always been fascinated with the way jets fly within valleys and canyons and how they stay upside down to help provide better visuals and stay close to the walls.

We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love.” True enough.These tiny bits of airborne matter — measuring barely a few hundred micrometres in diameter, or about the width of a strand of hair, and suspended in mist from our lungs — can transmit the coronavirus if someone is infected, ferrying the virus lightly through the air from one pair of lungs to another.And yet my recent experience is that there is much to be said for addressing ourselves not to people’s self-love but to their humanity.S.I recently posted a Twitter thread telling people what was on my mind.But when they exercised, that total soared 132-fold, topping out above 76,000 ppm, on average, during the most strenuous exertion.I explained that my father Adrian had died.DOSEN: Watching them pre-brief and test out the different ways to complete the mission is something that all pilots will relate to.

I posted photographs and described his life: His curiosity, his intelligence, his shy modesty.They also could renew some people’s concerns about indoor gym programs as Covid-19 cases increase again in much of the nation and raise questions about how to best reduce risks of exposure when we work out.He was allowed to take blindfolds off only upon arrival at the base, he said.I told how my father had devoted himself to the care of my dying mother in the 1990s, somehow held down his job, kept his children attending school and made sure there was food on the table.And I described the sensitive care my father and mother had both received at the Florence Nightingale hospice in Aylesbury.In 2020, 54 South Koreans developed Covid-19 after Zumba classes with infected instructors and then passed it to family members and acquaintances.And, finally, I asked people to consider giving money to the hospice.Greek authorities last month impounded the Iranian-flagged Pegas, with 19 Russian crew members on board, due to European Union sanctions.WHY DO PEOPLE GIVE TO CHARITY? People are kind, so I wasn’t surprised to get a warm response.Scientists investigating these and similar outbreaks speculated that inadequate ventilation and high respiration rates among the exercisers contributed to the wildfire-like spread of Covid-19 at the affected gyms.LT.

What I did not expect was to receive anonymous donations of three or even four figures.It seemed a lot of money to give incognito to a local charity in a place you might never visit, in memory of a man you probably never met.Accurately measuring the rise in floating particles during exercise is difficult.S.Economists have a number of theories to explain why anyone gives to a charitable cause.The most cynical – true sometimes, clearly false in this case – is that people are ostentatiously demonstrating their generosity and their riches.The cyclists wore silicone masks that captured their exhaled breaths, sending the air through tubes to a machine that counted each particle as it passed.At the other end of the spectrum is “pure altruism”.DOSEN: Female aviators are so badass! Most of my best female friends are also pilots so it is easy to forget just how rare we are but I always celebrate women taking the top spots.

Just as rational consumers maximise their gains as savvy shoppers, picking up the best products at the cheapest possible price, pure altruists also seek the biggest impact for their spending.Particles were counted constantly.The difference is merely that pure altruists are aiming to maximise the utility of other people.That doesn’t quite seem to cover it either.We all breathe more deeply and swiftly as we work out harder.There is a community of “effective altruists” out there, but they tend to prefer hard evidence, not memorial threads on Twitter.Economists Dean Karlan and Daniel Wood have shown there is a tension between evidence and emotion.The rise in aerosol emissions began moderately as riders warmed up and started pedaling harder.RIDER: Appreciation for the difficulty to fly fast at low altitude and pulling Gs.

They tested out fundraising mailshots with a tear-jerking story about a named beneficiary: “She’s known nothing but abject poverty her entire life.” Others got the same emotive tale alongside a paragraph attesting to the “rigorous scientific methodologies” that demonstrated the charity’s impact.The riders started huffing out about 10 times as much air per minute as at rest, while the numbers of particles per minute soared more than 100-fold as riders approached exhaustion (with considerable variation from person to person).Related: Commentary: Corporate giving – when cash isn't always best Karlan and Wood found that some people who’d previously given big donations came back and gave even more, impressed by the evidence of effectiveness.But smaller donors gave less.The more particles, the more possibility of Covid-19 infection if any exercisers are infected.Apparently, the scientific evidence turned them off.It is the kind of thing that is so challenging in the moment and all you want is for it to be over but looking back in retrospect I miss the comradery and competitiveness.

Perhaps they were giving because of what the economist James Andreoni calls the “warm glow” and John List, another economist, terms “impure altruism”.But these risks can be mitigated.Warm-glow giving is motivated by altruism of a fuzzier kind.Rather than calculating the most effective target for our donations, instead we give because it feels good to believe we’re doing good.“Open windows, especially with fans, can often be as effective as active ventilation systems,” he said.WHAT PERSUADES PEOPLE TO GIVE? Because warm-glow giving is emotional rather than rational, it raises the question of how to persuade people to get themselves in the mood to donate.Nobody was better at this game than Charles Sumner Ward, who, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, went on a hot streak raising money for the YMCA, the Boy Scouts, Masonic Temples and other employers of his formidable talents.If the weather is stifling and air conditioning necessary, make sure your gym’s units draw air from outside so fresh supplies replace the air filled with aerosol emissions from you and your classmates.I thanked him for his service on Monday morning and he never lived it down — my own real Charlie from Top Gun moment! Ready for action: Monica Barbaro as Lt.

Ward deployed tactics that now seem very modern, including artificial deadlines, large donors who pledged funds only if they were matched by smaller donations, publicity stunts, a campaign clock showing progress towards an often-arbitrary goal and little wearable flags that donors could display.Some of these ideas are now proven to increase donations, but social scientists continue to ask what makes people give.“These can be really effective in reducing transmission risk by removing the virus from the air.Donations range from baby food to medical equipment and blankets (Photo: AFP/Michaela Rehle) Cynthia Cryder and George Loewenstein have found that tangibility matters.People give more generously if they have first been asked to pick a charity from a list than if they’re shown the list and asked first to choose a donation amount, then to pick the charity to receive that donation.Also, stay well away from other exercisers.They also donate more if given specific examples of projects the charity does, rather than a more generic description.DOSEN: Absolutely, our Naval Aviators are the cream of the crop, the best of the best.

Being able to clearly picture how the money would be spent induced people to open their wallets.But it may not be enough during strenuous, indoor exercise classes.Perhaps this explains why people were so generous.I was very specific about my father’s life, my parents’ deaths and the way this particular hospice had helped them.So keep at least eight to 10 feet apart during strenuous workouts, which requires large rooms and small classes.Rather than donating to an abstract ideal, people were giving money to something they could picture clearly.Dean Karlan prompted me to consider one other thing: That people who regularly read my column or listen to my podcast have a relationship with me, and my thread on Twitter created an opportunity for them to mark that relationship with compassion and generosity.“If there are back-to-back exercise classes, some of the air from that first class will carry over to the second,” Dr Cappa said.We’re thrill-seekers.

Whatever the reason, I am grateful.And if this column prompts a warm glow, indulge yourself.Mask up as well.Find a charity that means something to you and in memory of someone who mattered to you.The altruism may be “impure”, but to do good feels good.If you find a tight N95 mask uncomfortable during intense exercise, “I’d suggest wearing a good surgical mask,” Dr Cappa said, which may feel slightly less constricting and steamy.Related:.DOSEN: I’ve had my fair share of playful rivals.

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