Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Downside to Disaster Relief: Why Do Photos of Attractive Children Backfire?

Date:
June 25, 2014
Source:
Journal of Consumer Research, Inc.
Summary:
When it comes to asking a stranger for help, being young, pretty, and the opposite sex greatly improve your odds. But when it comes to children suffering from the likes of natural disaster, poverty, or homelessness, a new study reveals that less attractive children receive more help than their cuter counterparts.

When it comes to asking a stranger for help, being young, pretty, and the opposite sex greatly improve your odds. But when it comes to children suffering from the likes of natural disaster, poverty, or homelessness, a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research reveals that less attractive children receive more help than their cuter counterparts.

"Many charitable organizations use children in advertising and promotional materials. Our research examines how the facial attractiveness of the children in these campaigns affects the empathy and help received from adults," write authors Robert J. Fisher and Yu Ma (both University of Alberta).

In a series of four experiments, participants were asked to visit fictional websites where they were asked to consider sponsoring a child from a developing country. The authors then systematically varied the levels of attractiveness of the children featured on the websites as well as their levels of need.

Results showed that when the children were portrayed as having a severe need (for example, orphaned as a result of a natural disaster), their facial attractiveness had no affect on helping responses. In contrast, when their need was not severe, participants felt less compassion and sympathy for an attractive child compared to an unattractive child in an identical circumstance.

The authors explain that this negative effect of attractiveness occurred because participants inferred that the attractive children were more popular, intelligent, and helpful than their less attractive peers. They also observed this negative effect despite the fact that the children in the studies were obviously too young to care for themselves.

These results offer practical implications for how children are portrayed by disaster relief agencies, children's hospitals, and other charities. "We believe our research offers a positive and hopeful perspective on human behavior because it suggests that when a child is in obvious need, even strangers can feel compassion and offer aid irrespective of the child's physical appearance," the authors conclude.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Journal of Consumer Research, Inc.. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Robert J. Fisher and Yu Ma. The Price of Being Beautiful: Negative Effects of Attractiveness on Empathy for Children in Need. Journal of Consumer Research, August 2014

Cite This Page:

Journal of Consumer Research, Inc.. "Downside to Disaster Relief: Why Do Photos of Attractive Children Backfire?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140625132118.htm>.
Journal of Consumer Research, Inc.. (2014, June 25). Downside to Disaster Relief: Why Do Photos of Attractive Children Backfire?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140625132118.htm
Journal of Consumer Research, Inc.. "Downside to Disaster Relief: Why Do Photos of Attractive Children Backfire?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140625132118.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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