It's only a matter of time: death, legacies, and intergenerational decisions.
Intergenerational decisions affect other people in the future. The combination of intertemporal and interpersonal distance between decision makers in the present and other people in the future may lead one to expect little intergenerational generosity. In the experiments reported here, however, we posited that the negative effect of intertemporal distance on intergenerational beneficence would be reversed when people were primed with thoughts of death. This reversal would occur because death priming leads individuals to be concerned with having a lasting impact on other people in the future. Our experiments show that when individuals are exposed to death priming, the expected tendency to allocate fewer resources to others in the future, as compared with others in the present, is reversed. Our findings suggest that legacy motivations triggered by death priming can trump intergenerational discounting tendencies and promote intergenerational beneficence.
Wade-Benzoni, KA; Tost, LP; Hernandez, M; Larrick, RP
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