We predicted that asking people to think about gifts they would like to leave for future generations would elicit a sense of responsibility to posterity and thus motivate support for an action favoring more fair wealth distribution (such as a donation to an organization working to reduce inequality).
We split participants from Amazon Mechanical Turk (a crowdsourcing Internet marketplace) into the control condition and the treatment condition. In the first stage, participants in the treatment condition were asked to think about five qualities, skills, or gifts that they hoped future generations would remember them for and how they will have a positive impact on other people (while those in the control condition did not). Next, participants in both conditions read a paragraph describing a non-governmental organization whose aim is to reduce wealth inequality and advance economic and social fairness. After reading the description, participants were asked to imagine what percentage of their day’s wage they would be willing to donate from 0% to 100%.
Why it matters
Thinking about the future and may increase motivation to make sacrifices to move toward a more equal wealth distribution. Since previous research has shown that most Americans believe there is currently too much wealth inequality, this finding is promising.