Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Please feed me': The power of putting a human face on social causes

Date:
November 6, 2013
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Companies often put a personal face on products in an attempt to reach a deeper connection with consumers. New research suggests the same idea can be applied to social causes: Putting a human face on the campaign for a social cause actually increases support for it.

Companies often put a personal face on products in an attempt to reach a deeper connection with consumers. New research suggests the same idea can be applied to social causes: Putting a human face on the campaign for a social cause actually increases support for it.

The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Researchers Pankaj Aggarwal of the University of Toronto Scarborough and the Rotman School of Management, Hae Joo Kim of Wilfrid Laurier University, and Hee-Kyung Ahn of Hanyang University, South Korea, found that anthropomorphizing social causes is effective because it appeals to people's sense of guilt.

"We are not consciously aware of why seeing a human face on a campaign has an impact, but we definitely feel a deeper connection to it," says Aggarwal. "When we see an entity feeling pain we would feel guilty if we could have done something to prevent it. We also wouldn't want that burden on ourselves so we would act accordingly to help that entity."

It's often difficult to motivate people to support social causes because doing so involves a personal sacrifice of time, money, and effort. It's only when people are encouraged to stop and consider the consequences of not participating -- and feel guilty as a result -- that they begin to comply.

Focusing on social causes like energy conservation, recycling, and the environment, the researchers found that including an emotive human-like face on campaign posters increased support for each cause.

In one experiment, the researchers showed some participants a poster with a picture of an organic-waste bin that had sad-looking eyes and a frown, accompanied by a caption that read "Please feed me food waste." The bin was "sad" because not enough people were participating in the food-waste recycling program.

Participants who saw the poster with the sad-looking bin said they were more likely to recycle their food waste than those who saw a poster with an ordinary waste bin.

"Not only did we find participants felt guilty about not complying with the social cause, but they also felt guilty about harming another being, in the form of an anthropomorphized light bulb, waste basket, or tree," says Kim.

Government agencies and charities use a variety of expensive and often ineffective financial instruments, such as fines, to encourage participation in social causes, says Aggarwal.

"It's hard to induce pro-social behavior," says Kim. "Because pro-social duties such as recycling are spread across society, people feel less individually responsible and often slack off."

Putting a human face on a social cause, says Aggarwal, may offer an inexpensive yet highly effective means of gaining more support.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. H.-K. Ahn, H. J. Kim, P. Aggarwal. Helping Fellow Beings: Anthropomorphized Social Causes and the Role of Anticipatory Guilt. Psychological Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1177/0956797613496823

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "'Please feed me': The power of putting a human face on social causes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131106152435.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2013, November 6). 'Please feed me': The power of putting a human face on social causes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131106152435.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "'Please feed me': The power of putting a human face on social causes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131106152435.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins