In the 2016 World Giving Index (WGI), an annual report published by the Charities Aid Foundation, China was ranked 140th in generosity among 140 different countries and regions. The charity foundation surveyed an average of 1000 people in each country on their charitable acts within the last month, including helping a stranger, donating money to charity, and volunteering their time. This finding is surprising as it speaks against the way of living promoted by traditional Chinese philosophy, which cultivates kindness and helping others in need. Given the enormous population of China, it is necessary and critical to better understand charitable behaviors in China, in comparison with other countries.
Why do people from some countries help more than people from other countries do? What contributes to the lack of or low levels of charitable behaviors in China? The proposed project, which consists of investigators from Hong Kong and the United States, fills a crucial gap in the literature by seeking to examine whether and how strong beliefs that success equals materialistic possessions and low self-concept clarity lead to low levels of helping in China. Further, we will investigate two complementary mechanisms for the effects of believing success equals materialistic possessions on helping. The interacting effect of materialism and self-concept clarity on helping will be also tested.
Findings and knowledge gained through this project will be presented at international conferences and be published in top-tier academic journals. Given the theoretical significance of our investigation, our research can help to guide further studies on promoting prosocial behaviors. Better understanding of how mainstream values and self-concept clarify influence prosocial behaviors will help to design effective interventions to boost helping in China and the United States.