Ego depletion and charitable support: the moderating role of self-benefit and other-benefit charitable appeals

Hyun Seeing Jin, Hyoje Jay Kim, Jaebeom Sue, Ben Sheehan, Robert Meeds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research investigates the interaction between ego depletion (a state of reduced self-regulatory resources) and different types of charitable message appeals upon subsequent charitable support. Three experiments compare the time donation intent and actual monetary donations of depleted (vs. non-depleted) individuals who have been exposed to either a self-benefit message, highlighting the gains to be accrued to donors themselves, or an other-benefit message which focuses on the welfare of beneficiaries. The results show that when people are depleted, self-benefit messages are more effective than other-benefit messages in generating charitable support. When people are not depleted, the opposite pattern is observed. It appears that generosity among depleted people is self-seeking. As a processing mechanism, we show that depleted individuals perceive self-benefit messages as more appealing than the other-benefit messages. This research demonstrates that charities can maximize donations by advertising other-benefit messages in the morning and then self-benefit messages in the evening, given that depletion occurs naturally over the course of the day.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-493
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Advertising
Issue number4
Early online date2 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Apr 2021


  • ego depletion
  • charitable support
  • donations

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