Dignity in Action

Is your program respectful?

How, exactly, do you know that? Did you ask people?

Development is frequently disrespectful. We all want to do better. But right now we don’t have the tools to do so.

The Dignity Project is an ongoing campaign for more respectful development.

Why dignity?

If there is something important to people’s lives, we should measure it. After all, donors will fund only what we can measure.

And there is public support for more respectful development. In our recent Mturk experiment, people upped their promised donations by 60%, when offered the chance to give to a charity that simply addressed its beneficiaries by name (p=0.02).

We’ve made strides in measuring wellbeingcapabilities, and even stress. We talk about dignity all the time, and it is a crucial concept – the philosophical underpinning of egalitarianism and rights, and of many approaches to research ethics. Yet we rarely define it, and right now we don’t measure it.

This project will address those hurdles of definition and measurement. It will do so through conceptual and qualitative research, followed by the development of two survey measures and an incentivised response ‘lab game’.

What we’re doing

This campaign will tackle some big questions:

How do you define dignity and respectfulness?

What does the research show, when we include dignity?

How do we measure it?

You can also learn more about this campaign, read writing by us and others, contact us with your ideas and input, and figure out how you can take action.

We’re already underway!

There’s already a first, draft set of measurement tools available.

We’ve used dignity to examine charity donors and the preferences of aid recipients.