PROMOTING THE ORGAN DONOR CARDAN EXPERIMENTAL
(Paper at the International Society of Critical
Health Psychology (ISCHP) Symposium on Organ Donation and Transplantation,
Boston, USA, 18-21 July, 2007).
Gundula Huebner, Bernd Six
Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Department
of Psychology, Germany
Department of Psychology
Phone: 0049/(0)345/55 24372
Empathy arousal is regarded as essential for
altruistic behaviour. However, using empathic cues to stimulate
organ donation commitment might be two folded. Becoming a potential
post mortem donor means accepting one's own mortality. Therefore,
being confronted with the distress of organ donation patients
might stimulate mortality salience. Referring to the Terror Management
Theory mortality salience activates fears of death and dying.
Thus, mortality salience is likely to heighten the salience of
fears negatively connected to organ donation, such as premature
declaration of death. The present research tested the role of
empathic cues in stimulating organ donation commitment. We compared
an empathic cue message to messages providing their audience with
fear reducing information. In the experiment 320 persons participated
who had not signed an organ donor card before. Results revealed
that the empathic cue message led to significantly higher anti
donation attitudes and lower intentions to sign an organ donor
card compared to messages including fear reducing information.
Furthermore, reading the empathic cue message resulted in significantly
less frequent organ donor card request. The results implicate
that trust in the medical system is more important than stimulating
empathy to promote the organ donor card.