Improving the effectiveness of prosocial advertising campaigns: Message strategies to increase support from less empathic individuals
Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing
Individuals with low levels of trait empathy are hesitant when it comes to helping people in need. This makes it difficult for nonprofit organizations to gain their support for prosocial advertising campaigns. An experimental study among 214 Swiss students examines what message strategies nonprofit organizations should use to increase support from less empathic people. We investigate the effects of depicting daily life situations where people in need are happy versus sad (visual message strategies) and the effects of presenting statistical versus anecdotal evidence (verbal message strategies). The results show that less empathic individuals hold more favorable attitudes toward prosocial advertising campaigns when exposed to sad daily life images and anecdotal evidence. Moreover, attitudes mediate message effects on less empathic individuals' intentions to comply with a prosocial advocacy. Overall, the study suggests that nonprofit organizations should prefer sad over happy daily life images and anecdotal over statistical evidence in prosocial advertising campaigns.
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