New research by a Texas A&M professor confirms what any panhandler knows; men and women approach charitable giving in a different and predictable way. Hint- if you're planning to stand on a city street, hat in hand, target men.

Researcher Karen Winterich found that charitable behavior can be predicted with only two pieces of info; sex and 'moral identity'. Moral identity, in this context, refers to the degree to which the individual values fairness, kindness, compassion and the like.

Her study found that men of similar moral identity are more likely to give to those needs in close proximity; face to face, neighborhood, or community. Women, on the hand, have a propensity to give to larger causes, such as Hurricane Katrina victims or relief efforts for the survivors of the 2006 tsunami disaster.

The study found a correlation among women between moral identity and the proximity of giving; those who scored higher on moral identity gave more willingly to causes regardless of how far away they were, while those scoring lower preferred the closer cause.

My take? If you are female, expect more pitches from not-for-profit organizations focused on foreign or worldwide causes. If you're a man, expect your doorbell to ring more often.

If you're selling Girl Scout Cookies, wait until the man of the house is home. And get to him before dinner.

Also read: How to stretch your charitable giving


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