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In 2021, the United States government provided a third Economic Impact Payment (EIP) for those designated as experiencing greater need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With a particular focus on scarcity and ontological insecurity, we collected time-separated data prior to, and following, the third EIP to examine how these variables shape consumer allocation of stimulus funds. We find that scarcity is positively associated with feelings of ontological insecurity, which, interestingly, correlates to a greater allocation of stimulus funds towards charitable giving. We further find evidence that mutability moderates the relationship between ontological insecurity and allocations to charitable giving. In other words, it is those who feel most insecure, but perceive that their resource situation is within their control, who allocated more to charity giving. We discuss the implications of these findings for theory, policy-makers, and the Transformative Consumer Research (TCR) movement.

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Leary, R.B., Mesler, R.M., Simpson, B., Meng, M.D. and Montford, W. (2022), Effects of perceived scarcity on COVID-19 consumer stimulus spending: The roles of ontological insecurity and mutability in predicting prosocial outcomes. J Consum Aff. Accepted Author Manuscript.

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