Emotional Ambivalence and Service Perceptions of the Blood Donor Experience

Project dates: 2011 - 2012

While the Blood Service is relatively effective at acquiring new donors, retention rates need to be improved. In particular, reducing the time between the first and second donation has been identified as a key factor in encouraging regular donation. One reason for the lack of donor loyalty is the emotional ambivalence created by the motivational conflict between ‘approach’ motives (I want to help others) and ‘avoid’ motives (I want to avoid the discomfort of giving blood).

This project aimed to understand the emotional responses and service perceptions of blood donors and non-donors towards the blood donation experience at three phases of the donor process; pre-donation, donation and post-donation. Specifically, this research sought to answer:

  1. How do donors and non-donors deal with competing approach and avoidance motives and emotions associated with donation?
  2. Do motivations and barriers to donate alter at different stages of the donation process?
  3. Do motivations and barriers to donate differ based on donation experience (e.g. new vs. experienced donors)?

This research employed a qualitative approach using focus groups with a total of 116 donors and non‐donors aged 18 to 60 years old, from two capital cities in Australia (Melbourne and Brisbane), and with varying donation experience. Findings highlighted differences between younger and older donors in the areas of emotional experience and conflict, preference for technology, motivations and barriers to donating.


Guiding Theory:

  • Service Quality
  • Emotions and Emotional Ambivalence

Funding / Grants

  • Australian Red Cross Blood Service: R&D Collaborative Research Grant


  • Russell-Bennett, Rebekah, Previte, Josephine, Gallegos, Danielle, Hartel, Charmine, Smith, Geoff, Hamilton, Robyn (2013) A Services Approach to Social Marketing Programs. In Kubacki, K, Rundle-Thiele, S (Eds.), Contemporary issues in social marketing, pp.111-140.
  • Russell-Bennett, Rebekah, Russell, Kay, Previte, Josephine, Glavas, Charmaine, Hartel, Charmine, Smith, Geoff (2014) The role of other people and emotion for blood donation : an altruistic social service. In Tsiotsou, R H, Hajidimitriou, Y (Eds.), Services Marketing in the New Economic and Social Landscape: AMA SERVSIG 2014 - International Service Research Conference Proceedings, pp.8-13.
  • Russell-Bennett, Rebekah, Hartel, Charmine, Russell, Kay, Previte, Josephine (2012) It's all about me! Emotional ambivalence Gen-Y blood-donors. Proceedings from the AMA SERVSIG International Service Research Conference 2012, pp.43-43.