The Art of Canning


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So obviously everyone and their mom knows what THON is. Last weekend I went canning for the very first time. I would just like to state that it really is as fun as everyone makes it out to be. I HIGHLY recommend that everyone does it at least once, but that's completely not the point of this post. For those of you that have never been canning and aren't really familiar with the concept, i'll give you the quick summary. You stand outside with a poster and a can and basically harass everyone driving by. People stop, throw their donation in the can, you thank them, and they continue on their mary way. Well this brings me to my point. While I was canning all day I had noticed many trends and this made me think. Does the type of car you drive say something about your generosity? How about your age, does that say something? If you smoke or not? I started to take note of all the trends I was seeing so I could write this. But before I start I would like to state a DISCLAIMER that I'm not saying that it's like this in every town, I'm just simply saying the things I saw. So here I go.  

People with really nice cars are LESS likely to donate (Shout out to the guy in the Porshe that wouldn't stop). Now I thought to myself, this makes absolutely no sense. Nice cars=wealthier people which =more money which in return = bigger donations. But I was completely wrong actually. The nicer the car, the more likely they were to drive away without donating. At a point I had a kid on a bike come up to me and donate all that he had in his pocket, but a guy in a BMW or Lexus doesn't have a dollar to spare? Or maybe its completely not about the money, maybe they lack any empathy? Could it be that they just don't care? According to this article, money can dehumanize people. It can make them, "Less ethical, more selfish, more insular, and less compassionate than other people." So according to this article it is because of their lack of empathy. Its actually quite interesting, Paul Piff a psychologist who had done many studies with the correlation of wealthiness and empathy, did one experiment that stood out to me. He stood on the side of a busy intersection and observed different cars and realized that, "Upper-class drivers were the most likely to cut off other vehicles even when controlling for time of day, driver's perceived sex, and amount of traffic." After that experiment he did a second experiment that observed how different cars acted when they saw pedestrians cross a crosswalk and he noticed that, "fully half the grade-five cars cruised right into the crosswalk." It's interesting that there have been studies done on the minds of the rich, but its even more interesting that those who have the ability to donate a lot, don't donate at all.

The second trend I noticed was that older people were less likely to donate than young adults or teenagers. I got hundreds of disapproving nods and dirty looks from elderly people. I'm not saying that absolutely no elderly people donated, but a majority of them didn't. From what other canners in my area told me, a lot of the elderly people thought what we were doing was a scam. Where as people ranging from the age of 18 to 45 were more than happy to donate most of the time. I found this article on psychological disorders many elderly people have and one of the most common things elderly people develop is increased paranoia, so maybe a majority of elderly people did think we were trying to scam them. Although I don't necessarily know exactly why this is, it is rather interesting. What do you guys think? Do you think there is some kind of correlation between generosity and age? Or do you think that older people are just more skeptical of things and didn't actually think we were canning for charity.

The third thing I noticed and possibly the weirdest was that I got a lot of donations from smokers. I cannot tell you how many cars stopped and the driver was smoking. I found this article that did a study on smokers and intelligence and people who smoked were found to be more intelligent. So maybe there's a correlation between the intelligence of someone and their generosity. While I was unable to find if there really was a correlation, I still think that it's very weird that I noticed this. I honestly think that this was due to chance. Maybe it just happened to be a town were a majority of the people smoke. In which case there is no correlation between smoking and generosity. What do you think? Do you think that there is a correlation or that this is all due to chance.

The fourth thing I noticed was the happier you look the more likely people will donate. When I was jumping around and being annoying, a lot of cars stopped. When the end of the day was nearing and I was exhausted, I started to tone it down. I stopped screaming and yelling inspirational quotes and even at a point sat down.Canning from 7 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon really takes a lot out of you, but that's not the point. When I stopped being enthusiastic and happy, people stopped donating. At one point this teenager gave me a dollar and told me to try a little harder. I found this marketing blog and the writer explains how both pessimism and enthusiasm are contagious. So maybe when I was jumping up and down, people were put in a better mood and were more likely to donate. But when I was sitting down with a tired look on my face people got that vibe as well and didn't find the need to donate.

The last thing I noticed was if one car donated and there was a line, every car after that donated too. I canned at a stop sign so people were obligated to stop. If I got one car to stop that had other cars behind it, I was golden. A lot of people didn't donate when they felt pressured to drive right after they stopped because they didn't want to hold everyone up, but if someone else did it first, they donated. I believe this to be a type of conformity,if you see everyone else doing it, you do it too. 

After I had noticed all of these trends, I asked other canners on their opinions. I found a group of 20 and went through each trend and saw what they had to say.

Trend 1: 20 out of 20 people agreed that people in nicer cars were less likely to donate. When I asked why, a majority of people thought it was because they were greedy or just didn't care enough.

Trend 2: 18 out of 20 people agreed. The two that didn't agree said they had a lot of elderly people donate, but they also said that the town they were in the majority of people were indeed elderly.

Trend 3: 0 out of 20 agreed. Maybe this is just something I noticed. 

Trend 4: 20 out of 20 agreed. They agreed that the more obnoxious you are, the more likely you are to get donations.

Trend 5: 20 out of 20 agreed. They all agreed that the trick was to get one car to donate and the rest always followed.

I'd like to know what you guys think. Do you agree with my observations or disagree? Also I'd like to know if you noticed any trends on your canning trip.

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1 Comment


I agree with you, it is interesting that those who have the ability to donate a lot don't donate at all. I have some input on the rich becoming being less generous. I went to high school in Mexico and I participated in a fundraiser for kids with cancer. And even before the fundraiser took place there was a noticeable distinction between who even cared to participate. I attended one of the most expensive and elite schools in the country. It was divided by those that were children of politicians (or just plain millionaires) and those that had a scholarship. It turned out that only the kids that were there on scholarship (like me) signed up for the fundraiser. None of the rich kids wanted to participate or even donate.
According to a recent UC Berkley study, the rich really are different from the rest of us, they are more apt to commit unethical acts because they are more motivated by greed.
Conversely, I witnessed the millionaire children kind of neglect social events like dances, and clubs altogether. The same UC study explains this observation. "Because rich people have more financial resources, they're less dependent on social bonds for survival.”
I hate to generalize but these were just my observations from my high school but they are similar to your observations from your canning trip. I wish there was a way to know for sure if the rich really are less generous but for now all we have are our own and scientists' observations. In conclusion, money does bad things to people, it dehumanizes them, takes away their empathy.

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