Would choosing your recipient influence your decision to donate?

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Publication details

Singh, S, Moloney, G & Sutherland, M 2017, 'Would choosing your recipient influence your decision to donate?', abstract presented to Southern Cross University 14th Annual Honours Psychology Research Conference, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour, 5-6 October.

Abstract available on Open Access


Aim: Less than 30% of Australian’s have registered their intent to donate their organs after death. Further to this are minority groups within Australia, who have chronically low registration rates. Although no definitive link between same ethnicity organ donation and successful transplantation, the procedure does rely on donor and recipient genetic compatibility. In this study, the theory of psychological essentialism was used to investigate whether a relationship existed between belief in ethnic origin as a natural kind; that is when physical characteristics, and internal attributes of group members are associated with an inherent underlying quality, and preference for directed donation. Method: Adults from the Punjabi and Australian community were invited to complete an online self-report questionnaire which investigated what was socially understood about organ donation, essentialist beliefs and the relationship between these beliefs and their preference for directed donation. Results: Willingness to donate was similar in both samples however, actual registration for the Punjabi sample (23.5%) was much lower than the Australian sample (53.8%). Principal component analysis of the psychological essentialism scale yielded a 2 factor solution measuring radical essentialism and general similarities in the Punjabi sample, and a 1 factor solution in the Australian sample. For non-registered participants in both samples, essentialist perceptions were not significantly related to a preference for directed donation. However, a main effect of age on preference for directed donation was found in the Punjabi sample with young adults reporting a stronger preference for directed donation in comparison to middle aged adults Conclusion: The study suggests that in the Punjabi sample there are generational differences in donation preferences. Young Punjabi adults reported they were more inclined to register than older Punjabi adults if they could preselect the characteristics of their recipient. Contrary to expectations, essentialist perceptions did not have a bearing on organ donation preference in both samples.