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  • Writer's pictureT. (Ned) Choungprayoon

“I’m a Maximizer, Yet, I’m Also a Generous Donor”

Updated: Apr 30, 2023

Written By T. (Ned) Choungprayoon, Ph.D. Candidate at Stockholm School of Economics

People with maximizing mindsets tend to have more willingness to donate to human recipients than non-maximizers. Why? And how can charities leverage this tendency? An interview with Danit Ein-Gar on her recent IJRM paper with Jingjing Ma and Yu (Anna) Lin.

People with maximizing mindsets are those who possess a goal of choosing the best option and trying to reach said goal by applying the strategy of comparing options. In an environment where we are faced with a wealth of options, this mindset is commonly activated. Unfortunately, many studies tend to show that this mindset is associated with negative experiences and behaviors (e.g., maximizers are less happy, less satisfied, and less optimistic). In a forthcoming IJRM paper, entitled “Charitable maximizers: The impact of the maximizing mindset on donations to human recipients”, Danit Ein-Gar, along with her co-authors, Jingjing Ma, and Yu (Anna) Lin show a positive aspect of the maximizing mindset. Using secondary data, a field study, and lab experiments, the authors demonstrate that individuals with a maximizing mindset are more willing to donate to human recipients than individuals without this mindset.

I interviewed Danit Ein-Gar about how she and her co-authors Jingjing Ma, and Yu (Anna) Lin maximize their research resources to discover the positive aspect of maximizers.

Maximizing dataset

The research team led by Jingjing Ma obtained a large-scale dataset that contained about one-half of all the online donations in China in November 2018 and provided the initial insight of the study. The challenging part, explained Danit, was that the Chinese companies who contributed to the database did not allow the research team to publish detailed data outside the country. “I’m very grateful to IJRM for being open-minded and trusting by not requiring us to fully disclose the data. It is important to acknowledge the restrictions and regulations in different countries.” -Danit Ein-Gar-

The main insight from the secondary dataset, describes Danit, is that maximizing campaigns (e.g., “Give children living in poor areas the right to get the most advanced knowledge like other children”) have higher goal completion rates than non-maximizing campaigns (e.g., “Provide quality books for children from low-income families, lighting up their hearts”).

Maximizing experiments

“Doing experiments across cultures and languages is very interesting due to the nuance of translation. In one of our studies, Anna showed me the experimental design with the phrase “the sunset” referring to elderly recipients. I was struck because the sunset in Hebrew can be offensive. I understood the phrase as the sun is coming down on elders as a metaphor that they are going to die. However, I learned that in Chinese the phrase actually means the opposite, it is a phrase reflecting respect.”

-Danit Ein-Gar

The idea that a maximizing mindset leads to more prosocial behaviors is counterintuitive, given the initial belief that this is a mindset that is mainly aimed to achieve one’s personal benefit. Besides the secondary dataset, the authors carefully designed one large field experiment and another five online experiments to show the causality and the underlying process. They ruled out alternative explanations and emphasized the boundary condition that this effect may hold under the donations to human recipients.

The main mediator they studied is downward social comparisons. When the donor compares herself to the human recipients of the donation who are experiencing misfortune, it evokes maximizers’ downward social comparisons driving them to donate more. Since this downward social comparison is the major underlying process, campaigns that do not include human recipients are less effective under the maximizing mindset.

Maximizing study results

Activating the maximizing mindset among prospective donors (i.e., embedding certain words) or identifying donors with a maximizing tendency can enhance responsiveness to donations appeals focused on human recipients. With the rise of natural disasters like the earthquake in Turkey, donation-raising agencies are faced with increasing challenges. The findings from this study can help such agencies maximize their efficiency in raising donations for human recipients in need.

Read the paper

Interested in reading all the details about maximizers and charity? Read the full paper here.

Want to cite the paper?

Ma, Jinging, Yu (Anna) Lin, and Danit Ein-Gar (2022), “Charitable maximizers: The impact of the maximizing mindset on donations to human recipients”, International Journal of Research in Marketing.


Meet the Authors


Danit Ein-Gar

Associate Professor at Coller Scholl of Management, Tel-Aviv University, Israel

What drives you to do the research / work you do?

“My dad once told me that being very stubborn will make it hard for me to find a job with a boss who will not tell me what to do. So, the thing that I really value in my work is the fact that I can choose what my work will be about and who I work with. I tend to overanalyze and overthink things. I am lucky to have found a profession that values these characteristics. Finally, the teaching aspect helps me feel that I am contributing something to others beyond my published papers.”

Fun-fact about the author: If you were not an academic, what would you be?

“It depends on what day you ask me. Somedays my answer would be a dog hairdresser. On other days I would probably say I would work in a research lab of some big firm that has tons of money and runs cool experiments. There was a time when I thought of working in some rescue shelter for kids who run away from home. It varies so much and ranges from very very high inspirational jobs to very very low basic silly jobs.”


Jingjing Ma

Assistant Professor at Peking University, China

What drives you to do the research / work you do?


Fun-fact about the author: If you were not an academic, what would you be?

“I worked in a market research company before. ”


Yu (Anna) Lin

Ph.D. Student at Department of Marketing, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

What drives you to do the research / work you do?

“I enjoy the process of identifying questions and figuring out answers.”

Fun-fact about the author: If you were not an academic, what would you be?

“I would find a job in an NGO.”


This article was written by

T. (Ned) Choungprayoon

Ph.D. Candidate at the Stockholm School of Economics (Sweden)

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