Investing in Karma: When Wanting Promotes Helping Oct 09, 2012 By Benjamin ConverseA., Risen, J. L., & Carter, T. J. Investing in Karma: When Wanting Promotes Helping Investing in Karma: When Wanting Promotes Helping People often face outcomes of important events that are beyond their personal control, such as when they wait for an acceptance letter, job offer, or medical test results. We suggest that when wanting and uncertainty are high and personal control is lacking, people may be more likely to help others, as if they can encourage fate’s favor by doing good deeds proactively. Four experiments support this karmic-investment hypothesis. When people want an outcome over which they have little control, their donations of time and money increase (Experiments 1 and 2), but their participation in other rewarding activities does not (Experiment 1b). In addition, at a job fair, job seekers who feel the process is outside (vs. within) their control make more generous pledges to charities (Experiment 3). Finally, karmic investments increase optimism about a desired outcome (Experiment 4). We conclude by discussing the role of personal control and magical beliefs in this phenomenon. Psychological Science Areas of focus Social Psychology Benjamin Converse Benjamin Converse is an associate professor of public policy and psychology at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and the Department of Psychology. His research focuses on motivation, social judgment, problem solving and decision making. He teaches courses related to leadership and negotiations. Read full bio A., Risen, J. L., & Carter, T. J. Related Content Benjamin Converse People systematically overlook subtractive changes Research A series of problem-solving experiments reveal that people are more likely to consider solutions that add features than solutions that remove them, even when removing features is more efficient. Next Week, Next Month, Next Year: How Perceived Temporal Boundaries Affect Initiation Expectations Research To move from commitment to action, planners must think about the future and decide when to initiate. We demonstrate that planners prefer to initiate on upcoming days that immediately follow a temporal boundary. We instinctively add on new features and fixes. Why don’t we subtract instead? News Across a series of studies published this month in the journal Nature, Batten’s Gabrielle Adams, Benjamin Converse and co-authors demonstrated that people tend to overlook the option to subtract parts when asked to change or improve something. In an op-ed for The Washington Post, they explore why ‘less is more’ is a hard insight to act on. Why People Forget that Less is Often More News Why, when solving problems, do people prefer adding things to getting rid of them? In an article for The Economist, Batten’s Gabrielle Adams and Benjamin Converse explain their research on subtractive improvements.