Publications and Surveys

The Science of Generosity publications and surveys library contains books, journal articles, reports, and survey data sets on generosity and related subjects from scholars around the world.

Literature Reviews

Generous Financial Giving and Philanthropy

Literary review on Generosity and Philanthropy image

This literary review presents an overview of the academic literature on philanthropy, divided into two parts. Part 1 addresses the question of who gives and how much; part 2 addresses the question of why people give. In part 1 there is a survey of the literature on individual and household characteristics related to giving. In part 2 the eight mechanisms that drive giving are described: 1) awareness of need; 2) solicitation; 3) costs and benefits; 4) altruism; 5) reputation; 6) psychological benefits; 7) values; and 8) efficacy. Almost 500 studies were reviewed. Suggestions regarding directions for future research on philanthropy are included.

Generosity and Philanthropy: A Literature Review

Social Psychology of Generosity

While the term generosity is common as a general descriptor in the literature on social behavior, it has yet to be conceptualized, let alone systematically addressed in research. To set the stage for more rigorous attention to generosity, the authors of the following paper review the current state of research on prosocial behavior, including its greatest obstacle—lack of conceptualization. This literary review highlights various causes, forms, and consequences of prosocial actions and attempts to distinguish between types that are often confounded in the literature. It also specifically addresses the limits of the individual, psychological basis of much of the prosocial literature and outlines the benefits of a more nuanced sociological approach. Not meant to be an exhaustive literature review, this paper focuses on social psychological research and explanations as its authors attempt to clarify the field related to generosity and make suggestions for future research and theoretical development.

The Social Psychology of Generosity: The State of Current Interdisciplinary Research

Corporate Giving

In recent years, a lot of new literature has emerged on the topic of Corporate Giving, and much of it has contributed to the broader discussion of Corporate Social Responsibility. Studies show that while managers appear to have come more and more to see the need to integrate corporate philanthropic activity into the core mission and strategy of their companies, the actual practice of such “strategic philanthropy” seems to be weak. Employee Volunteer Programs also seem to be growing in importance, but empirical research on these is scant. Some reliable evidence exists for a positive relationship between philanthropic activity and firm reputation as well as financial performance. However, there are important methodological problems with most studies, such as small, non-representative samples of firms and low response rates, which limit what we are able to say about U.S. corporations in general. The lack of consensus in the literature on how to measure various aspects of the phenomenon is another obstacle to overcome. Yet, for these very reasons, the potential for future exploration is rich, and based on the literature reviewed, important avenues for further research will be recommended.

Corporate Giving: A Literature Review

Religious Giving

This review addresses religious monetary giving—that is, financial donations given to religiously affiliated congregations, denominations, and parachurch organizations—in research across many academic fields. One finds scholarly literature on religious financial generosity in sociology, psychology, economics, political science, philanthropic studies, and marketing. In addition to its crossdisciplinary appeal, the topic of religious giving has drawn international interest, engaging scholars not only in the United States but also Australia (Giving Australia: Research on Philanthropy in Australia 2005), Canada (Reed and Selbee 2001; Berger 2006), the Netherlands (Bekkers 2003), Taiwan (Chang 2006), and Western Europe (Reitsma, Scheepers, and Grotenhuis 2006). This literature review unpacks insights from the impressive body of existing research on religious giving and proposes new directions for future study.

Religious Giving: A Comprehensive Review of the Literature

Addendum to Literature Reviews (2007-2009)

Below you will find an updated list of publications and corresponding abstracts published between 2007 and July 2009 on the topic of generosity. The review spans all of the topics covered in the above reviews. You may download the document directly in pdf format below:

Addendum to Literature Reviews

Or go directly to the sub-topic that best matches your particular interests:

Altruism & Reciprocity
Body-part Donation
Charitable Giving/Philanthropy
Child/Adolescent Development of Prosocial Behavior
Helping Behavior
Organizational Citizenship Behavior
Philosophy/Virtue Ethics
Prosocial Behavior
Religious Giving