Subliminal Influence on Generosity

Ola Andersson, Topi Miettinen, Kaisa Hytönen, Magnus Johannesson, Ute Stephan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


We experimentally subliminally prime subjects prior to charity donation decisions by showing words that have connotations of pro-social values for a very brief time (17 ms). Our main finding is that, compared to a baseline condition, the pro-social prime increases donations by approximately 10–17 % among subjects with strong pro-social preferences (universalism values). We find a similar effect when interacting the prime with the Big 5 personality characteristic of agreeableness. We furthermore introduce a novel method for testing for priming, “subliminity”. This method reveals that some subjects are capable of recognizing prime words, and the overall results are weaker when we control for this capacity.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalExperimental Economics
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)531–555
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 511 Economics
  • Charity
  • Subliminal
  • Priming
  • Universalism
  • Values
  • personality
  • pro-social


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