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EMAC 2019 Annual Conference

Will you give when you have lost? How resource scarcity impacts prosocial behaviour

Published: May 28, 2019


Puneet Bhargava, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad; Priya Narayanan, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad; Aruna Tatavarthy, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad


prosocial behaviour; resource scarcity; emotion compensation


Research on resource scarcity shows how compensatory behaviour could lead to either selfish or generous outcomes. In this paper, we study the role played by emotions arising from situational resource scarcity to propose when individuals seek compensation through engaging in causes for the “greater good.” Across three studies, we find evidence to support our hypotheses that the presence of resource scarcity and the type of resource scarcity influence both the preference for supporting the prosocial cause and mode of supporting (donating vs. volunteering). Our results offer actionable recommendations to policymakers and charitable organizations to assess the impact of situation-induced resource scarcity on individuals’ motivations to make contributions to prosocial causes.