What goes around comes around: The effect of belief in karma on charitable donation behavior

Ming Chen, Xing Yu Chu, Chien Huang Lin, Shih Heng Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Karma is the notion that one's current actions will have consequences in the future. The present research links the belief in karma with a guilt appeal and examines how believing in karma influences the individuals' donation behaviors. The results of four studies demonstrate that for people who hold a strong belief in karma, guilt appeals can arouse the motivation to engage in prosocial activities to remedy past demerits. This “remedy demerits” motivation is the reason why individuals who hold a strong (vs. weak) belief in karma are more likely to donate time (rather than money) and donate money in lump sums (rather than in installments) when the charitable appeal is framed in terms of guilt. Our findings contribute to the literature on specific beliefs, individuals' prosocial behaviors, and the motivations of individuals who believe in karma as concerns their responses to charitable appeals. Charitable organizations can apply the findings by targeting their donor solicitations to individuals who believe in karma to enhance engagement in prosocial activities, and by using karma priming advertisements to induce individuals to think karmically, thus more efficiently promoting specific donation choices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1065-1077
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology and Marketing
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • belief
  • charitable appeal
  • donation
  • guilt appeal
  • karma
  • prosocial behavior


Dive into the research topics of 'What goes around comes around: The effect of belief in karma on charitable donation behavior'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this