The Science and Imagination of Living Generously
Eight emerging researchers nationwide who are working to expand knowledge on generosity over the course of a lifetime have received grants from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Generously funded by the John Templeton Foundation, the grant program will identify and capture bold ideas and innovations in the social sciences and the arts and humanities that shed light on what it means to live generously and transmit generosity to others.
“By nurturing emerging scholars in this field and encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration, this program will further develop both the breadth and depth of information devoted to generosity and generous behaviors,” said Una Osili, Ph.D., director of research for the school.
The funded projects address three big questions: 1) Can virtuous habits be cultivated? 2) How is generosity related to character, thrift, and creativity? 3) Can cutting-edge scientific work and reflective expression promote individuals’ practice of generosity?
Research was funded in two categories:
Imaginative Innovations in the Arts or Humanities—The Imagination of Living Generously projects aim at creating imaginative works that encourage reflection on generosity for individuals at different stages of their lives. Innovators will stretch their imaginations, encouraging creative work (e.g., writers, film-makers, video game designers, musicians, historians, theologians, and philosophers) to illuminate the imagination within the science. Their work will be a catalyst for change by reducing the barriers that often exists between generosity science and the novel ways it can be communicated.
Original Social Science Research—The Science of Living Generously projects will provide research on generosity’s consequences for well-being and satisfaction. These scholars are encouraged to expand use of data from several key Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) modules, including the school’s Philanthropy Panel Study.
The scholars receiving grants and their research projects are:
Patricia Herzog, Ph.D. (Sociology), of the University of Arkansas, and her team will conduct a study titled “Emerging Leaders Study – Intervening in the Social Science of Life-Course Generosity.” The team will use a quasi-experimental design to address the question, “Can cutting-edge scientific work and reflective expression promote individuals’ lifelong practice of generosity?” The team is interested in learning whether increasing online learning and engagement with social scientific research on generosity studies results in greater generosity.
Benjamin Marx, Ph.D. (Economics), of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will conduct a study titled “The Charitable Response to Need and Persistent Effect on Generosity: Evidence from Tornado Strikes.” He and his co-investigator will examine changes in charitable donations and ask the questions, “Do charitable giving and volunteering respond to new demands?” and if so, “does the response increase the total expression of generosity, and does it persist over time and generations?”
Larisa Heiphetz, Ph.D. (Psychology), of Columbia University, will conduct a study titled “The Relationship between Generosity and Moral Essentialism,” the extent to which goodness is perceived as innate, unchanging, and biologically based. Her research will test whether moral essentialism causes generosity and whether past generosity leads to future generosity. It also will examine moral essentialism across development.
Sarah Schntker, Ph.D. (Psychology), of Fuller Theological Seminary, will conduct a study titled “Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself (and as Thy In-Group): Examining the Effects of Moral Intuitions and Intercessory Prayer on Generous Behavior toward Religious In-Group and Out-Group Members.” Using experimental techniques, she and her co-investigators will study the effects of intercessory prayer on generosity expressed towards people in the same and in different faith traditions. Intercessory prayer is hypothesized to increase generous giving, and praying for the out-group is expected to increase out-group giving.
William Chopik, Ph.D. (Psychology), of Michigan State University, will conduct a study titled “The Dyadic Mechanisms Linking Generosity to Health among Older Couples.” By examining the origins of generosity within couples and using individual and partner personality assessments, his study will shed light on how aspects of the social environment increase generosity, which can improve the health and happiness of older adults.
Molly Maxfield, Ph.D. (Psychology), of the University of Colorado Springs, will conduct a study titled “Examining the Roles of Age and Death Awareness in Generous Behavior.” Specifically drawing upon Terror Management Theory, she proposes that awareness of life’s finitude motivates older adults to consider the well-being of others and future generations to a greater extent than it would for younger individuals.
Marta Serra-Garcia, Ph.D. (Economics), of the University of California, San Diego, will conduct a study titled “Procrastination of Generous Acts.” It will examine individuals’ preferences about the timing of donations, including how patient individuals are in their charitable giving and whether they plan to donate in the future, but fail to do so.
Laura Liu, Ph.D. (Education), of Indiana University Bloomington, will conduct a study titled “Intergenerational Generosity for Civic Well-being: Preserving Our Roots." Her study will cultivate civic generosity by helping youth gain insight into how generosity is understood, experienced, and shared across generations, cultures, and global-local (glocal) regions. Elementary-aged children will interview grandparents and other community elders to gain insight into how they have understood, experienced and expressed generosity, and how they might like to see generosity re-imagined in the future. Youth will reflect on intergenerational sharing to artistically interpret and share community elder generosity stories in glocal civic spaces.
About the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is dedicated to improving philanthropy to improve the world by training and empowering students and professionals to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change in the world. The school offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy through its academic, research and international programs and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. Follow us on Twitter @IUPhilanthropy and “Like” us on Facebook.