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Money matters: does the symbolic presence of money affect charitable giving and attitudes among adolescents?

James A. Roberts (Marketing Department, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, USA)
Camille R. Roberts (Midway High School, Woodway, Texas, USA)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Article publication date: 16 November 2012




Money plays an integral part in the daily lives of people all over the world and its mere presence can affect one's behavior and attitudes. The present paper aims to test whether the presence of money will reduce the amount of money donated to charity and affect adolescents' attitudes toward charitable giving. The role of gender in charitable giving and attitudes is also to be investigated.


The study's subjects consisted of 114 adolescents ranging in age from 13‐14. Using an experimental design, each subject was randomly assigned to one of two groups. The treatment group's questionnaire had the image of a $100 bill at the bottom of the first page. The analyses consisted of two separate ANOVAs to test the study's hypotheses.


The initial ANOVA analysis investigates the impact of money salience and gender on the willingness to donate. The full model was significant as were the main effects for treatment group (money prime) and gender. Those primed for money gave less to the food bank and girls gave more compared to boys. A second ANOVA investigates the impact of money salience and gender on attitudes toward charitable giving. Again, both the full model and main effects were significant. Those primed for money held less favorable attitudes toward charitable giving than the control group and girls held more positive attitudes than boys.

Research limitations/implications

The findings suggest that gender plays an important role in charity and answers a call for increased research in this critical area of study. Study limitations and directions for future research are discussed.

Practical implications

The results of this study have important implications for both charitable giving and attitudes and for better understanding this important human value. It appears that when money is made salient it makes people less charitable.


This is the first study to extend the impact of money salience to adolescents.



Roberts, J.A. and Roberts, C.R. (2012), "Money matters: does the symbolic presence of money affect charitable giving and attitudes among adolescents?", Young Consumers, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 329-336.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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