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School of Business and Management

MCIB Research Seminar: From Sinners to Saints: How Redemption Stories Motivate Charitable Giving

When: Wednesday, April 28, 2021, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Where: Online, Zoom

Speaker: Dr Eric Levy

The MCIB Research Seminar will take place on Wednesday 28th April from 1pm -2pm via Zoom. The presenter is Dr Eric Levy, from the Marketing Interactions and Consumer Behaviour (MICB), Research Group.


From Sinners to Saints: How Redemption Stories Motivate Charitable Giving

This research identifies the redemption story, a type of story in which an individual overcomes challenges resulting from his or her moral failures to become a more moral person, as a novel motivator of consumer charitable giving. Across five studies (two preregistered), people increased their charitable intentions and behaviors after encountering a redemption story relative to comparison stories, including stories in which the protagonist was always moral. This occurs due to feelings of moral elevation, even when such stories are encountered incidentally and when they are unrelated to the target charity. We also demonstrate theoretically relevant moderators of the effect. First, the positive effect of redemption stories emerges only among those who are high (vs. low) in moral identity. Second, the effect occurs only when the protagonist comes from a background of high (vs. low) adversity. We further show that marketers can effectively use redemption stories in their communications about a charity’s volunteer (studies 1 and 5), spokesperson (study 2), and past donation recipient (studies 2 and 3). In sum, this research demonstrates that redemption stories are a novel and useful managerial vehicle for increasing charitable donations due to their morally elevating effects.


Eric is Lecturer in Marketing at Queen Mary University of London, School of Business and Management. He is Director of the Marketing Interactions and Consumer Behaviour (MICB) Research Group, and was Co-Director of the SBM Behavioural Research Lab. Eric is also a Visiting Fellow in Marketing at University of Cambridge Judge Business School, and a Senior Member of Hughes Hall, Cambridge. Eric's research focuses on consumer moral identity, prosocial behavior and charitable giving, brand anthropomorphism, and consumer religiosity. His research has been published in leading journals such as Journal of Marketing, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Journal of Consumer Psychology. Eric has taught consumer psychology and branding to senior executives from around the world in his EMBA and Executive Education courses, and he has consulted for governmental and academic organizations such as the Financial Conduct Authority and the Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy. Eric has been interviewed, quoted, written articles for, and/or had his research highlighted in various national and international media outlets including CNBC, the BBC, the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, MarketWatch, the Telegraph, ITV, The Naked Scientists podcast, and, among others.

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