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Everyday Ethics

Three studies recently released brought a new twist to that age-old competition, man vs. woman–the question of generosity and charitable giving.

The series of studies, published in the August 2009 Journal of Consumer Research, examined how men and women gave to victims of Katrina and the South Asian tsunami, as well as how they gave to victims of terrorism in London and Iraq. The result was a significant difference in the male and female approach to charitable giving.

The authors of the study used the term “moral identity” to describe the extent to which “notions of being moral are central and important to one’s self-identity.” While men who had a strong moral identity were more inclined to donate to Katrina victims and London terrorism victims, women who identified equally with their moral center were more likely to give to Katrina and tsunami victims, London and Iraqi victims. Women were more likely to focus on communal goals, and men more likely to focus on the self.

Interesting stuff. Personally, I feel fortunate in my friends and family and would consider them equally generous in their charitable giving, bridging the so-called gender gap. However, I’ve long since wondered about the concept of national boundaries, identification with and empathy for our neighboring countries, and whether there should still exist a place in our hearts and minds for any type of distinction (I don’t believe so).

I’d never considered gender to be a factor in these questions, so these studies bring about a new facet to my ruminations.

What do you think? Do you find a distinct difference in charitable giving in your household based on gender?

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