The role of altruistic behavior, empathetic concern, and social responsibility motivation in blood donation behavior Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Blood donation can be described as a prosocial behavior, and donors often cite prosocial reasons such as altruism, empathy, or social responsibility for their willingness to donate. Previous studies have not quantitatively evaluated these characteristics in donors or examined how they relate to donation frequency. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: As part of a donor motivation study, 12,064 current and lapsed donors answered questions used to create an altruistic behavior, empathetic concern, and social responsibility motivation score for each donor. Analysis of variance was used to compare mean scores by demographics and donor status and to determine the influence of each variable on the mean number of donations in the past 5 years. RESULTS: The mean score for each prosocial characteristic appeared high, with lower scores in male and younger donors. Higher altruistic behavior and social responsibility motivation scores were associated with increased past donation frequency, but the effects were minor. Empathetic concern was not associated with prior donation. The largest differences in prior donations were by age and donor status, with older and current donors having given more frequently. CONCLUSION: Most blood donors appear to have high levels of the primary prosocial characteristics (altruism, empathy, and social responsibility) commonly thought to be the main motivators for donation, but these factors do not appear to be the ones most strongly related to donation frequency. Traditional donor appeals based on these characteristics may need to be supplemented by approaches that address practical concerns like convenience, community safety, or personal benefit.


  • Steele, Whitney Randolph
  • Schreiber, George B
  • Guiltinan, Anne
  • Nass, Catharie
  • Glynn, Simone A
  • Wright, David J
  • Kessler, Debra
  • Schlumpf, Karen S
  • Tu, Yongling
  • Smith, James
  • Garratty, George

publication date

  • January 2008

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