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Biol Psychol. 2015 Feb;105:138-43. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2015.01.008. Epub 2015 Jan 21.

The heart of the story: peripheral physiology during narrative exposure predicts charitable giving.

Author information

1
Center for Neuroeconomics Studies, School of Social Science, Policy, and Evaluation, Claremont Graduate University, United States. Electronic address: jorge.barraza@cgu.edu.
2
Center for Neuroeconomics Studies, School of Social Science, Policy, and Evaluation, Claremont Graduate University, United States.
3
Center for Neuroeconomics Studies, School of Social Science, Policy, and Evaluation, Claremont Graduate University, United States; Department of Neurology, Loma Linda University Medical Center, United States.

Abstract

Emotionally laden narratives are often used as persuasive appeals by charitable organizations. Physiological responses to a narrative may explain why some people respond to an appeal while others do not. In this study we tested whether autonomic and hormonal activity during a narrative predict subsequent narrative influence via charitable giving. Participants viewed a brief story of a father's experience with his 2-year-old son who has terminal cancer. After the story, participants were presented with an opportunity to donate some of their study earnings to a related charity. Measures derived from cardiac and electrodermal activity, including HF-HRV, significantly predicted donor status. Time-series GARCH models of physiology during the narrative further differentiated donors from non-donors. Moreover, cardiac activity and experienced concern were found to covary from moment-to-moment across the narrative. Our findings indicate that the physiological response to a stimulus, herein a narrative, can predict influence as indexed by stimulus-related behavior.

KEYWORDS:

Autonomic physiology; Charity; Emotion; Heart rate variability; Hormones; Influence; Narrative

PMID:
25617658
DOI:
10.1016/j.biopsycho.2015.01.008
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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