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Don’t Just ‘Like’ My Cause, Do Something Slacktivists

Don't Just 'Like' My Cause, Do SomethingNew research confirms recent contentions that social media platforms are turning people into “slacktivists” — making it easy for them to associate with a cause without committing resources to support it.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business discovered would-be donors skip giving when offered the chance to show public support for charities in social media.

“Charities incorrectly assume that connecting with people through social media always leads to more meaningful support,” said Kirk Kristofferson, who co-authored the forthcoming Journal of Consumer Research article.

“Our research shows that if people are able to declare support for a charity publicly in social media it can actually make them less likely to donate to the cause later on.”

In a series of studies, researchers invited participants to engage in an initial act of free support for a cause — joining a Facebook group, accepting a poppy, pin or magnet or signing a petition. Participants were then asked to donate money or volunteer.

Investigators found that the more public the token show of endorsement, the less likely participants are to provide meaningful support later.

However, if participants were provided with the chance to express token support more privately, such as confidentially signing a petition, they were more likely to give later.

The researchers suggest this occurs because giving public endorsement satisfies the desire to look good to others, reducing the urgency to give later. Providing token support in private leads people to perceive their values are aligned with the cause without the payoff of having people witness it.

With the holiday season being the biggest fundraising period of the year, the researchers say it is vital that charities take another look at their strategies and plan appropriately.

Source: University of British Columbia


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Don’t Just ‘Like’ My Cause, Do Something Slacktivists

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Don’t Just ‘Like’ My Cause, Do Something Slacktivists. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 26, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.