The goal of our project is to develop an affective approach to Attitudes and Persuasion. Indeed, we want to understand and explain the role emotions can play in the evolution of people's attitudes towards a topic, a product, a cause, an advertisement, or a company for instance. Of course, rational argumentation might be perceived as superior in terms of achieving persuasive goals. However, we believe that the attitude of a recipient may not change if his or her feelings are not involved. Researches have proved that a persuasive message is more likely to lead to an attitude change if the receiver is emotionally aroused rather than if he or she is exposed to a more rational communication. More particularly, we would like to deal with the concept of guilt in the communication process. Indeed, the effectiveness of fear appeal or the affect-laden appeal has been deeply and thoroughly examined in different studies. On the contrary, the effectiveness of guilt appeal is less known. That is why this research project will help us to learn a bit more about this marketing tool which consists arousing consumers' guilt in order to persuade them.
Guilt, in marketing or in any other field, is a complex notion which is always considered as a negative emotion which has an impact on persuasion, and needs to be studied more specifically. Therefore, as a start to our study, it is important to define: what are precisely guilt and its ins and outs? Guilt must be distinguished from fear, annoyance, pity, and remorse. Guilt is more philosophy and psychology essentially a private recognition that one has violated a personal standard (Kugler and Jones 1992), in other words feeling guilty informs us we have failed our own ideals (Gaylin 1979). Hence, guilt can be described as a feeling associated with the realization that one has transgressed a moral, societal or ethical principle (Wolman 1973).Guilt is complex because it combines different feelings such as regret and self-blame that are going to be experienced either by contemplating or actually committing a transgression. Guilt is not only felt after a fault; indeed, it can be experienced when this act has only been thought out and not done. Therefore, guilt always refers to moral principles individuals want to obey. Guilt is specific to a norm imposed by a society and which guides the sense of ethics and attitudes of people.
A definition of guilt for such a project cannot be considered as complete if the three different types of guilt established in 1970 by Rawlings are not mentioned. First of all, guilt can be anticipatory, which is a guilt that results from an individual while contemplating a potential violation of one's own standard (Rawlings, 1970). Then, guilt can be analyzed as reactive. It represents here a response to having violated one's standards of acceptable behavior (Rawlings, 1970). Finally, more recent researches have shed light on existential guilt, which is experienced as a consequence of a discrepancy between one's well-being and the well-being of others.
[...] In other words: did people give more money because of the guilt appeal contained in the ad? To begin with, we can mention the fact that generally people we interviewed did not grudge us donations. They were quite interested and felt concerned by the majority of the ads we showed them. That is the reason which explains the fact that they were ready to give money to the different non-governmental organizations. Thus, it seems that the fact people reacted to the ads and felt emotions when they saw them encouraged them to give money for charity. [...]
[...] This proneness is directly correlated to the effectiveness of guilt appeal in social marketing THE WAYS TO TRIGGER GUILT IN SOCIAL MARKETING Social marketing, which is precisely the planning and implementation of programs designed to bring about social change using concepts from commercial marketing, can use guilt to achieve its goals. The effectiveness of guilt appeal hinges on the ways we know to trigger guilt. There are four ways that are commonly used to cause guilt: - Statement of fact: A statement of fact tells an independent but difficult truth that may cause us to compare our values with our actions. [...]
[...] Self-esteem and guilt appeal Hypothesis Many individual variables can mediate the effectiveness of a guilt appeal. For instance, individuals high in self esteem are not as responsive as low ones are and will resist more to a strong guilt appeal. We will now use the chart that presents correlation between the level of self esteem and the money given. Let's remember the results we found: Very high guilt appeal: - 0.109 High guilt appeal: - 0.600 Neutral ad: - 0.414 Informative ad: 0.262 Positive ad: 0.231 Thus, we have proved the following result: The more high self-esteemed a person is, the less money he or she gives to an ad with a strong guilt appeal. [...]
[...] Indeed, we have to remember that our will is to understand the effectiveness of guilt appeal in communication. Why do marketers think that using the consumer's guilt could be efficient in a communication campaign? It is obvious that marketing and advertising practitioners are continually looking for more effective ways to persuade consumers to buy their products and services. They rely on informational and emotional appeals to change attitudes and to convince consumers to purchase. We can lay the emphasis on the fact that nowadays, guilt appeal is becoming more and more popular as a persuasion technique. [...]
[...] To conclude, guilt appeal is efficient in social marketing when: A good image and a good message are linked together: one alone is not enough, a bad message can ruin a good image (same thing the other way around). Guilt appeal is NECESSARY if a marketer wants his or her advertisement to be efficient. But it has to be proportioned correctly. "Cliches" are necessary to wake up the donator's attention. Marketers must focus only on the guilt appeal in order to be efficient: If other feelings are mixed, the campaign will loose its impact The picture has to appear "real" and concrete. [...]
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