Reciprocity priming and organ donation


  • R. O'Carroll
  • L. Haddow
  • L. Foley
  • J. Quigley


Objective: There are approximately 6,500 people on the UK national transplant waiting list, and around 400 of these die every year. Only 35% of the UK population are currently on the organ donation register. We report 2 studies examining whether a reciprocity prime, in which participants were asked whether they would accept a donated organ, increased organ donation intentions and behaviour. Design: Between participants, randomized-controlled design Methods: In 2 studies, participants who were not currently registered organ donors took part in a face-to-face setting or online, and were randomly allocated to a reciprocity prime or control condition. Following the manipulation they were asked to indicated their intention to join the organ donor register. In Study 2, participants were then offered an organ donation information leaflet or the opportunity to click a link for further information (proxy behavioural measure). Results: In both studies, reciprocity primed participants reported greater intentions to register than controls. However, in Study 2, no effect on donation behaviour was found. Conclusions: Reciprocal altruism may be a useful tool in increasing intentions to join the organ donor register. Further evaluation is required to determine whether this increase in intention can be translated into organ donation behaviour.





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