The Impact of Global Crises on Prosocial Behaviours

Arana, Claudia Teresa
Yap, Crystal
Pornchanoke Tipgomut, Noke
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Master of Business
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Auckland University of Technology

The proliferation of global crises in recent times has been unprecedented. For instance, the world has been faced with unparalleled challenges like a global health crisis, a worldwide financial meltdown and climate-related natural disasters. These examples highlight that people are being exposed to a lot of drastic changes more frequently than ever before, severely affecting how they see the world and the way they think and behave. Due to the widespread nature of these events, it is important to understand the role of affective and cognitive aspects on people’s behaviours during crises. While prior research has examined how cognitive appraisals and emotions influence behaviours, little is known about how these affective and cognitive experiences can help explain prosocial behaviours during global crises. To close this gap, this research examines the cognitive appraisals (i.e., challenge and threat) that people experience during global crises and how this can alter their emotional states (i.e., hope) and, subsequently, impact their intentions to engage in prosocial behaviours like volunteering and donating money. Likewise, this research explores the mediating role of value in behaviour in this relationship.

Drawing on the appraisal theory of emotions, this study develops a conceptual framework linking global crises to prosocial behaviours and addresses the following research questions: RQ1: How do the appraisals of a crisis-generated stressor influence prosocial behaviours? RQ2: Do hope and value-in-behaviour act as mediators between global crises and prosocial behaviours? This study conducted an online survey with 200 participants via Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk). The questionnaire was administered over four weeks. Structural mediation modelling (PLS-SEM) was employed to analyse the data using SmartPLS 4.0 software.

The results reveal significant differences between the two proposed conditions (volunteering and donating money). As predicted, during a global crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, challenge appraisals have a positive influence on volunteering and donating behaviours, having hope and value-in-behaviour (altruistic and emotional) as key mediating variables in this relationship. In turn, threat appraisals decrease the desire to donate money, having hope and value-in-behaviour (altruistic and emotional) as key mediating variables in this relationship; however, this variable was not significant on intentions to volunteer. The present research contributes to the current knowledge base by offering important theoretical and managerial contributions. From a theoretical standpoint, the study contributes to the literature on prosocial behaviours during times of crisis. The impact of global crises on prosocial behaviours is yet to be fully understood, and the purpose of the study represents an effort in that direction, explaining how cognitive appraisals and emotions play a key role in that relationship. From a managerial standpoint, by understanding how individuals appraise and emotionally react to global crises, charitable organisations can develop appropriate response strategies to continue motivating, recruiting and retaining supporters during these extreme situations and, more importantly, establish long-term relationships with them.

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