Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Guilt Sells

This advertisemnet provides an example of 'Guilt Sells'. This is an emotional tactic used to influence the audience of the message by creating guilty emotions within the individual, encouraging them to adapt their behaviour to overcome the feeling of guilt. Guilt occurs when an individual violates their internal standards and feels responsible for whatever is occuring. In this advertisement, the use of a hosuehold pet that you cannot refute is worth helping ensures the audience cannot justify not giving £1. 

It has been demonstrated that guilt appeals are an effective method of influencing donation behaviour (Hibbert, Smith, Davies & Ireland, 2007). Hayes, Thornton and Jones (2004) investigated the effects positive and negative appeals had on donation behaviour. Participants were given two leaflets, one with a positive image of a dog on the front and the other with a picture of dog aimed to produce feelings of guilt. These leaflets were followed by a questionnaire to ascertain the emotions the leaflet evoked. They were then asked if they would donate to the RSPCA. Those who were in the guilt condition experienced more feelings of sympathy and sadness, which subsequently meant they wanted to help more.

Furthermore, using moderate levels of guilt is more effective than high levels as they appear less manipulative (Cotte, Coulter & Moore, 2005). Therefore, 'How much do you love me?' is far less aggressive than 'Do you want me to be homeless?'.

Cotte, J., Coulter, R. A., & Moore, M. (2005). Enhancing or disrupting guilt: the role of ad credibility and percieved manipulative intent. Journal of Business Research, 58, 361-368.

Haynes, M., Thornton, J., & Jones, S. C. (2004). An exploratory study on the effect of positive (warmth appeal) and negative (guilt appeal) print imagery on donation behaviour in animal welfare. Wiley and Sons: New Zealand.

Hibbert, S., Smith, A., Davies, A., Ireland, F. (2007). Guilt appeals: persuasion knowledge and charitable giving. Psychology and Marketing, 24(8), 723-742.

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