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A Neuroimaging Analysis of Volunteering Time and Giving Money: How Visual Self-Referencing and Cognitive Complexity May Explain Behavioral Differences

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Document pages: 28 pages

Abstract: Previous research has identified significant differences in consumer attitudes resulting from focusing on time or focusing on money. Most commonly, these differences are ascribed to a more emotional mindset engendered by time contemplation. We investigate this hypothesis using functional magnetic resonance imaging with 36 participants who were scanned while making decision to volunteer time or give money to charitable organizations. Decisions to volunteer time more strongly activated areas in the precuneus, a region associated with taking an outside perspective on one’s self. This heightened self-referencing could be an alternative to heightened emotions as an explanation for behavioral differences resulting from focusing on time rather than money. Additionally, decisions to volunteer time appear more cognitively complex as shown by greater activation in the superior middle frontal gyrus and mid-cingulate gyrus. Greater projected likelihood of volunteering is associated with a stronger internal visualization element.

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