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Title: Advance gratitude expressions as a prosocial appeal : when a little thanks can do the world a good
Author: Galli, Leandro Howard
ISNI:       0000 0004 7431 6745
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2017
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In this thesis I introduce and empirically test the novel concept of an advance gratitude expression as a prosocial appeal. I propose a conceptual framework which outlines when and how advance gratitude expressions may or may not result in increased prosocial tendencies. Across eight main studies (field, online and laboratory) one pilot and two follow-up studies, I demonstrate that (1) a simple advance gratitude expression can shape one’s prosocial tendencies by making the perceived morality of the appeal appear more or less salient, and (2) the direction and magnitude of the effect is contingent on the donor’s level of psychological connectedness to the cause. I test the validity and generalizability of my model by means of different operationalisations of the key theoretical constructs, dependent measures (financial donations, volunteering and cause related marketing purchases), study designs and sample populations. In Study 1 I demonstrate the predicted main effect with a real behavioural outcome (donation amount) while additionally showing how the increased desire to act prosocially stems from increased moral awareness. In Studies 2-5, I identify psychological connectedness as a key moderator of the effect of advance gratitude on prosocial behaviour and I show that under conditions of low connectedness, in which consumers do not feel engaged with the prosocial cause, advanced gratitude expressions can backfire. In Study 6, I provide a complete examination of my theoretical framework by testing for the conditional indirect effects of moral awareness on prosocial intent at different levels (high vs. low) of psychological connectedness to the cause. I show that when psychological connectedness is low (high), advance gratitude expressions result in a decrease (increase) in prosocial intent via a reduced (increased) moral awareness. Through a moderation of process design, study 7 offers conclusive evidence for the notion that moral awareness is the underlining mechanism. Finally, in Study 8, I identify a theoretically important boundary condition for the documented main effect; advance gratitude expressions fail to increase prosocial behaviour in the case of individuals whose moral identity centrality is already chronically high. This dissertation’s findings are of theoretical significance because they add to the gratitude, morality and prosocial literatures and are of practical significance because they provide non-profit organizations as well as managers of private enterprises engaging in charitable work, with actionable insights that can help them design more effective prosocial appeals.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology ; HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare