Warm-glow giving

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Warm-glow giving is an economic phenomenon described by James Andreoni in 1989 that attempts to explain why people give to charity by proposing that people engage in impure altruism.[1][2] Instead of being motivated solely by an interest in the welfare of the recipients of their largess, "warm-glow givers" also receive utility from the act of giving. This utility is in the form of warm glow—the positive emotional feeling people get from helping others.

Competing motives for charitable giving include pure altruism—in which there is no internal or external reward for giving or helping people, as well as the egoistic motivation for donating. Egoistic motivation may come from the boost to self-esteem that people get from thinking of themselves as selfless and socially responsible, and/or from other people's recognition of their philanthropy.[3]

Further research has demonstrated that the reward centers of the brain activate in response to charitable giving and helping others, suggesting physiological evidence for the warm-glow phenomenon.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Andreoni, James (1990). "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving". Economic Journal 100 (401): 464–477. JSTOR 2234133. 
  2. ^ Andreoni, James (1989). "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence". Journal of Political Economy 97 (6): 1447–1458. doi:10.1086/261662. 
  3. ^ Leonhardt, David (March 9, 2008). "What Makes People Give?". The New York Times Magazine. 
  4. ^ Harbaugh, W; Mayr, U; Burghart, D (2007). "Neural Responses to Taxation and Voluntary Giving Reveal Motives for Charitable Donations". Science 316 (5831): 1622–1625. doi:10.1126/science.1140738. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Diamond, Peter; Vartiainen, Hannu (2012). "Models Involving ‘Warm Glow’". Behavioral Economics and Its Applications. Princeton University Press. pp. 62–65. ISBN 978-1-4008-2914-9. 
  • Andreoni, James (2006). "Philanthropy". In Kolm, Serge-Christophe; Ythier, Jean Mercier. Handbook of the Economics of Giving, Altruism and Reciprocity: Applications. Elsevier. pp. 1202–1223. ISBN 0-444-52145-3.