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Altruism that really clicks

Altruism that really clicks

Good, not goods

Websites are designed to keep us engaged, enthralled and keep on clicking.  However, websites that encourage good behaviours are often less effective than websites that encourage purchases.  BWA’s Peter Slattery is the lead author of a new paper that sets out to address this by giving recommendations for the optimal design for websites that promote charity, volunteering and similar behaviour.

Top ten features

The paper recommends optimising 10 website features; interaction, factual, anecdata, external recognition, organisational expression, value suggestion, explanatory content, visual media, written media and, website design. For instance, is the website easy to read and navigate, does it present factual information backed by others, provide personal stories and insights into the values of the organisation and users, and contain lots of visual information?  No pressure.

The seven deadly wins

If your site manages to achieve these goals, it’s more likely to create the right perceptions in users, such as ease of use, aesthetics, information quality, trust, negative affect (eg. triggering sadness or guilt), positive affect (eg. happiness and inspiration), and argument strength.

Egoism is not a dirty word

The study also found that participants were most frequently motivated by egoism – that is, a desire to help others because it would increase their own well-being, for example, by making them feel better.  

However, some participants noted that they wanted to act out of feeling empathy or a sense of responsibility. This suggests the role of other motivations, and maybe that doing good can sometimes be entirely selfless – a big question that’s still in debate!

Increasingly, when we do become motivated to do something to make the world better for someone else, we head to the internet to find out how.  That’s why this kind of study matters.

By helping prosocial websites to be more effective, it helps to encourage more people with good intentions to follow through to do good behaviours.  

You can find the preprint here and the paper here.

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