Slightly Agree GSID

Among our participants who slightly agreed that it is very important to them to be a generous person were Ryan, Regina, and George, whose identification as generous we highlight here. George told us that he “can’t stop thinking that maybe I ought to be more generous. So if you’re always thinking like that, it makes it hard to be comfortable with where I am.” He explains why his desire to identify with this generous trait matters to him: “Wouldn’t that matter to everyone? Being generous is a positive and admirable trait. ... It would certainly matter to me if people thought I was an ungenerous person.” This exemplifies that the desire to avoid being perceived as ungenerous by others can serve as a motivating factor of giving.

Neutral GSID

Linda, one of our Selective givers, was among the 24 percent of Americans who answered “neutral” to our question about the importance of being a generous person. When we asked Linda if she considers herself to be a generous person, she answered, “Generally.” In person she said that she does give time generously in taking care of her children full time: “I’m generous with my time. I have to be.” Thus she feels obligated to live out a parental form of generosity but feels neutral toward helping others outside her immediate family.

Slightly Disagree GSID

Of our 12 cases, only Anthony disagreed to any extent that being a generous person is important to him, and he described himself as “not very generous.” He explained this by saying: “You’re not gonna give your money to just anyone. You’re gonna cherry-pick who you give money to.” For Anthony this justifies maintaining a low GSID.

Generous Self-Identities

In summary, our case studies, like most Americans, are likely to agree that they have some degree of a generous self-identity. Those who disagree, and even those who are neutral, tend to have very low participation in any form of giving. Having seen how having a generous self-identity plays a role in giving participation, we investigate it along with the seven key personal and social orientations.

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