Being around children makes adults more likely to donate, says research

Psychologists are suggesting that adults are more compassionate and donate more to charities when they are in the presence of children.

A study looked at how the presence of children influenced adults’ motivations and behaviours.

Over eight experiments, involving more than 2,000 participants, researchers found that adult passers-by on a shopping street in Bath were more likely to donate with children around relative to those without children.

The researchers, from the Universities of Bath and Cardiff found that “when no children were present and all passers-by were adults, a student research team from the University of Bath observed roughly one donation every ten minutes”.

“But when children and adults were equally present on the shopping street, adult passers-by made two donations every ten minutes,” researchers added.

The findings suggest that the presence of children “can nudge adults to behave more generously and donate more often”.

Lead researcher Dr Lukas Wolf, from Bath University’s Department of Psychology, said: “Our findings showing the importance of children for compassionate behaviour in society provide a glimpse of a much bigger impact.

“Children are indirectly dependent on how adults behave towards each other and towards the planet. Yet, children are also separated from many adult environments, such as workplaces and from political bodies where important decisions affect their futures.

“The finding that the presence of children motivates adults to be more compassionate towards others calls for more integration of children in contexts where adults make important long-term decisions, such as on climate change.”

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