The purpose of this research was to examine how emotional experiences from past donation decisions affect subsequent decisions. In line with our hypothesis, the results of six studies consistently show that feeling good about one's response to an initial donation appeal serves as an affirmation signal, and was associated with a similar response to subsequent requests (i.e. to donate again, if one had donated before, or not to, if one had refused). Similarly, feeling bad about one's response to a previous request predicts a different response on a subsequent occasion. Thus, if one had previously donated, and felt bad about it, one is likely to refuse to donate the next time—and conversely, if one remembers feeling bad after refusing to donate on a previous occasion, one is more likely to donate in future.
This pattern repeated whether participants were asked to recall the feelings they experienced after a past donation decision, or when they were given a random affective feedback about their decision. The same pattern occurred in a longitudinal study, in which participants reported their emotions immediately after their initial donation decision (without being asked to recall them). Moreover, it occurred irrespective of the perceived importance of the donation cause. Importantly, we found that only integral affect (i.e., the affect directly related to the donation decision) influences subsequent decisions; incidental affect (that is which perceived to be unrelated to the decision target) does not, even immediately after recalling a past donation (or refusal) event. This suggests that people can distinguish between related and unrelated emotional cues, and use them only when they are perceived to be relevant.
To the full article:
Shlefer, S., & Kogut, T. (2021). How did it feel? Affect as a feedback system in repeated donation decisions. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 97, 104203.