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Positive appeals are liked, but negative appeals work better

Erlandsson, Arvid LU and Nilsson, Artur LU (2015) 25th Subjective Probability, Utility and Decision Making Conference
Abstract
Charitable organizations often use directed charity appeals to solicit donations from potential donors. However, charity appeals can be written either in a positive frame (where the aim is to induce a positive mood), or in a negative frame (where the aim is to induce guilt and general negative emotions). Both positive and negative affect have been linked to an increased motivation to help and while some studies suggest positive appeals to be preferable to negative or neutral appeals (e.g. Benson & Catt, 1978; Perrine & Heather, 2000), other studies have found that negatively framed appeals render higher donations (e.g. Small & Verrochi, 2009; Chou & Murighan, 2013). In two studies using different charity contexts, we tested... (More)
Charitable organizations often use directed charity appeals to solicit donations from potential donors. However, charity appeals can be written either in a positive frame (where the aim is to induce a positive mood), or in a negative frame (where the aim is to induce guilt and general negative emotions). Both positive and negative affect have been linked to an increased motivation to help and while some studies suggest positive appeals to be preferable to negative or neutral appeals (e.g. Benson & Catt, 1978; Perrine & Heather, 2000), other studies have found that negatively framed appeals render higher donations (e.g. Small & Verrochi, 2009; Chou & Murighan, 2013). In two studies using different charity contexts, we tested this systematically by randomly allocating participants to read either a very positively or a very negatively framed charity advertisement. Participants were then asked if they would like to anonymously donate the buying price of endowed lottery tickets to the organization behind the ad. Manipulation-checks showed that the negative ad made participants experience more negative emotions (guilt, distress, sadness, and anger) compared to the positive appeal. In contrast, the positive ad made participants feel happier and more hopeful, and participants also liked the positive ad more than the negative ad. Despite this, the negative ad rendered significantly higher donations than the positive ad in both studies. Follow-up analyses showed that there were no differences in the likelihood of helping (the proportion of participants donating something was not influenced by the type of ad), but there were differences in the magnitude of helping (those reading the negative ad were more likely to donate all their resources than those reading the positive ad). (Less)
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Contribution to conference
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unpublished
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25th Subjective Probability, Utility and Decision Making Conference
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English
LU publication?
yes
id
967e81d5-52b6-4f14-8b97-f5105836c441 (old id 8569778)
date added to LUP
2016-01-28 15:13:18
date last changed
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@misc{967e81d5-52b6-4f14-8b97-f5105836c441,
  abstract     = {Charitable organizations often use directed charity appeals to solicit donations from potential donors. However, charity appeals can be written either in a positive frame (where the aim is to induce a positive mood), or in a negative frame (where the aim is to induce guilt and general negative emotions). Both positive and negative affect have been linked to an increased motivation to help and while some studies suggest positive appeals to be preferable to negative or neutral appeals (e.g. Benson & Catt, 1978; Perrine & Heather, 2000), other studies have found that negatively framed appeals render higher donations (e.g. Small & Verrochi, 2009; Chou & Murighan, 2013). In two studies using different charity contexts, we tested this systematically by randomly allocating participants to read either a very positively or a very negatively framed charity advertisement. Participants were then asked if they would like to anonymously donate the buying price of endowed lottery tickets to the organization behind the ad. Manipulation-checks showed that the negative ad made participants experience more negative emotions (guilt, distress, sadness, and anger) compared to the positive appeal. In contrast, the positive ad made participants feel happier and more hopeful, and participants also liked the positive ad more than the negative ad. Despite this, the negative ad rendered significantly higher donations than the positive ad in both studies. Follow-up analyses showed that there were no differences in the likelihood of helping (the proportion of participants donating something was not influenced by the type of ad), but there were differences in the magnitude of helping (those reading the negative ad were more likely to donate all their resources than those reading the positive ad).},
  author       = {Erlandsson, Arvid and Nilsson, Artur},
  language     = {eng},
  title        = {Positive appeals are liked, but negative appeals work better},
  year         = {2015},
}