New research shows the humble blood donation bandage signals health and generosity

New research shows the humble blood donation bandage signals health and generosity

Are you seen as bragging or simply generous when you wear a branded bandage after donating blood? It’s one question that Dr. Michael Lam in conjunction with Dr. Barnaby Dixon and Prof. Masser from Lifeblood’s Research and Development Donor Research Team asked when looking at how we can encourage more men to donate blood.

Why men?

In Australia when it comes to blood donation, women under 40 outnumber men of the same age. Yet because men are less likely to be unable to donate due to medical reasons and are also less likely to have a negative reaction when donating, they make ideal donors. So how do we recruit more?

What did we do?

Our researchers conducted an experiment drawing on Costly Signalling Theory. The basic idea in Costly Signalling Theory is that some behaviours may reliably communicate a person’s underlying characteristics that otherwise would be unobservable. These characteristics may be attractive to other people.

According to this line of thinking, donating blood could serve as a signal of a blood donor’s otherwise unseen or unknown positive traits, such as their health or generosity.  

So, could a signal showing someone has just donated blood – like a sticker or a post-donation bandage – be enough to show someone’s desirable traits?

In order to test this, we showed people three photos of the same person; one without a donation bandage, one with a donation bandage and one with a blood donation branded donation bandage, and then asked them to rate the person in the photo on various traits such as generosity, health and self-promotion.

What did we find?

There were three key insights from the experiment and if you’re interested you can read the full paper here.

1: Wearing a blood donation branded bandage made the wearer appear more generous.

2: The reason for wearing the bandage must be obvious; highlighting blood donation (rather than an injury)

3: Wearing a blood donation branded bandage won’t make you look like you’re bragging or self-promoting.

So, what now?

Our experiment showed wearing a branded blood donation bandage is one way for others to see the generosity of our donors.

Lifeblood has partnered with six Australian artists to design a vibrant range of limited-edition blood donation bandages for our True Colours campaign, helping donors look and feel better than ever, and hopefully people will see the bandages and be inspired to donate.

Book a donation before 14 November to grab yours.

Note: story adapted from: