Should You Broadcast Your Charitable Side?

Alixandra Barasch

By Alixandra Barasch, Deborah Small, Jonathan Berman and Emma Levine

You may be considered a braggart, but if your motives are pure, you should be willing to sacrifice your image for the greater good.

By Alixandra Barasch, Deborah Small, Jonathan Berman and Emma Levine

You’re scrolling through your Facebook feed and spot a post from a former high-school classmate, sharing news about her recent service trip overseas. There’s a picture of her smiling ear to ear while posing with children at a local orphanage. “So #blessed to be able to help others less fortunate than me—what an amazing, life-changing trip,” she writes in the caption.

If you’re like us, you’ve probably encountered a post like this, in which someone goes out of their way to inform others of their good deeds. In the behavioral-science world, we call this virtue signaling.

Although people can virtue signal in a variety of ways, social media has evolved as an easy medium for people to signal their virtue, endorsing causes and issues that reflect positively on an individual and their social group. Facebook and Instagram are rife with expressions of people’s social and political views, announcements about their donations of time and money, and, for those well-off enough to afford it, highlights from their recent adventures in voluntourism—traveling to far-flung places to build homes, offer medical care, and support local children.

Read the full article as published by Behavioral Scientist

Alixandra Barasch is an assistant professor of marketing.