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Giving Behaviours and Social Cohesion

How People Who ‘Give’ Make Better Communities

Lorna Zischka

‘Giving’ time and money to the community indicates the existence of relationships that draw people together, and ‘who people give to’ indicates how inclusive these relational networks are. Using UK data for the analysis, Zischka argues that a person’s willingness to ‘give' is not only influenced by social cohesion; it also helps to generate social cohesion. For thriving communities, we therefore need to consider our ‘giving’ as well as our ‘getting’.
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Chapter 7: The impact of a cohesive social environment on giving behaviours

Lorna Zischka


A lab experiment was run to show how closely giving behaviours reflect the social environment. Two groups of people completed the same series of tasks, but one group underwent those tasks in a closer relational environment and one in a more distant relational environment. At point of payment and exit from the experiment, all participants were provided with the option to give to charity. The experiment revealed that making people feel more connected with others directly increased their willingness to give to a third party: how people were treated affected how they went on to treat others. Extra pay did not have the same effect however; it did not stimulate giving independently of the sense of connection.

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