These studies explore persuasive strategies such as message framing, vividness and creativity.
Keywords: story, concrete, vs. abstract language, persuasion, vividness
Source: ‘Stalking the elusive ‘vividness’ effect’, by S. E. Taylor and S. C. Thompson, Psychological Review (1982) vol. 89.2, pp.155-181
Conclusions: This article reviews prior experiments on vividness (rather than conducting original experiments), and concludes:
1. There is no convincing data proving that concrete language is perceived as more ‘vivid’, or more significantly influence reader’s attitudes or behaviour, in comparison to abstract language.
2. Use of case stories in most experiments does correlate with higher persuasiveness (though the experiments do not confirm a connection to vividness – the subject of the article).
Key caveats: As which most discussions of concrete/abstract language, no definitions or examples are provided, so it’s difficult to ascertain precisely how these terms are being used.
Keywords: repetition, persuasion
Source: ‘Effects of message repetition and position on cognitive response, recall, and persuasion’, J. T. Cacioppo and R. E. Petty, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1979), vol. 10.1, pp.3–12.
Conclusions: In these experiments,
1. Readers’ agreement with a message increased with small message repetition (i.e. 3 times), but then decreased with further repetition (i.e. 5 times).
2. Readers’ cognitive development of counterarguments to the message decreased with small message repetition (i.e. 3 times), but then increased with further repetition (i.e. five times).
Excessive repetition therefore evoked higher scrutiny of the message and lower agreement with it.
Key caveats: This experiment was conducted in laboratory conditions in the USA and all of the participants were undergraduates.
Keywords: creativity, cognitive dissonance, persuasion
Source: ‘Some effects of schematic processing on consumer expectations and disconfirmation judgements’, by D. M. Stayman, D. L. Alden and K. H. Smith, Journal of Consumer Research (1992) vol. 19.2, pp.240-255
Conclusions: This experiment found that a message which was moderately incongruous – that is, it generally matched the expectations of the reader, but there was, for example, some newness, surprise or clashing – prompted readers to evaluate the message more favourably than messages which entirely matched expectations or very strongly clashed with expectations.
Key caveats: All participants were American undergraduates.
Keywords: uncertainty, emotions, decision making, persuasion
Source: ‘Uncertainty increases the reliance on affect in decisions’, by A. Faraji-Rad and M. Tuan Pham, Journal of Consumer Research (2017) vol. 44.1, pp.1-21
Conclusions: This study (involving 6 experiments) found that evoking uncertainty (e.g. by asking an opening question such as ‘Will he survive the winter?’) heightened the influence of emotions on decision making.
Key caveats: The experiments were conducted online. Nearly all participants were from the USA.
Keywords: images, persuasion
Source: ‘The effect of vivid attributes on the evaluation of alternatives: the role of differential attention and cognitive elaboration’, by A. L. McGill and P. Anand, Journal of Consumer Research (1989) vol. 16.2, pp.188-196
Conclusions: This experiment found that
1. Prompting the reader to cognitively elaborate on an image increases its impact on readers’ attitudes.
2. Prompting the reader to cognitively elaborate on an image increases the likelihood of the reader making favourable judgements.
Key caveats: This study involved relatively few participants, so the results may not be highly reliable. All participants were American undergraduates. The message type used in this test was a product safety notice. The message type used in this test was a product advertisement.
Keywords: concrete vs. abstract language, vividness, persuasion
Source: ‘The use of vivid stimuli to enhance comprehension of the content of product warning messages’, by C. A. Kelly, W. C. Gaidis and P.H Reingen, Journal of Consumer Affairs (1989) vol. 23.2, pp.243-266
Conclusions: This study found that messages using concrete and specific language (therefore being more ‘vivid’) were more easily recalled than messages using abstract language (therefore being less ‘vivid’).
Key caveats: All participants were American undergraduates. The message type used in this test was a product safety notice.
Keywords: creativity, persuasion
Source: ‘Manipulating ad message involvement through information expectancy: Effects on attitude evaluation and confidence’, by Y. H. Lee, Journal of Advertising (2000) vol.29.2, pp.29-43
Conclusions: This study found that inclusion of unexpected information in advertisements created significantly more positive attitudes to the advertisement, and that these favourable attitudes were relatively persistent.
Key caveats: This experiment was conducted in laboratory conditions. All participants were American undergraduates. The results were self-reported attitudinal data, which may not directly correlate with actual behaviour in real life fundraising contexts.
Keywords: framing, story, statistics, evidence, persuasion, charity goals
Source: ‘Improving the effectiveness of fundraising messages: The impact of charity goal attainment, message framing, and evidence on persuasion’, by E. Das, P. Kerkhof and J. Kuiper, Journal of Applied Communication Research (2008) vol. 36.2, pp.161-175
Conclusions: This experiment found that:
1. Messages including anecdotal evidence (e.g. a story) were perceived to be more vivid and less abstract than messages including statistical evidence, particularly regarding perceptions of whether or not the charity addressed a worthy cause.
2. Messages including anecdotal evidence (e.g. a story) were evaluated more positively than messages including statistical evidence, particularly regarding perceptions of whether or not the charity addressed a worthy cause.
3. Statistical information was more effective when combined with negatively framed messages (e.g. foregrounding the negative consequences of not donating) than when combined with positively framed messages (foregrounding the positive consequences of donating).
4. Anecdotal evidence was more effective when combined with positively framed messages than when combined with negatively framed messages
5. Appeals including details of the charity’s expectations of achieving its goals had a positive impact on readers’ intention to donate were evaluated more positively than appeals which did not mention the charity’s goals or expectations about achieving those goals.
Key caveats: This study took place in the Netherlands. The results were self-reported attitudinal data, which may not directly correlate with actual behaviour in real life fundraising contexts.
Keywords: crowdfunding, digital, persuasion
Source: ‘Does heart or head rule donor behaviors in charitable crowdfunding markets?’, R. Gleasure and J. Feller, Journal of Electronic Commerce (2016) vol. 20.4, pp.499-524
Conclusions: This study found that
1. In the context of charitable crowdfunding, donations to projects/organisations were more influenced by outcome-related factors, such as fundraising targets and the likelihood of meeting that target.
2. In the same context, donations to individual fundraisers were more influenced by interaction-related factors, such as the level of dialogue around a campaign.
3. In the same context, fuller explanations of the campaigns correlated with increased donations for both porjects/organisations and individual fundraisers.
Key caveats: The study investigated users of a dedicated charitable platform. These participants are likely to be regular donors and to have strong preferences to donate (whether for altruistic or egoistic reasons).
Keywords: emotion, digital, persuasion
Source: ‘The role of mood in the processing of media messages from a small screen: Effects on subjective and physiological responses’, by N. Ravaja, T. Saari, K. Kallinen and J. Laarni, Media Psychology (2006) vol. 8, pp.239–265
Conclusions: This study found that
1. When participants were in a depressed mood, they were more engrossed by a message in textual format (i.e. in words) than in video format.
2. When participants were in a happy, relaxed or fearful mood, they were more engrossed by a message in a video format than in a textual format.
Key caveats: This experiment was conducted in laboratory conditions. All participants were American undergraduates.
Keywords: emotion, engagement, persuasion
Source: ‘Transportation across media: Repeated exposure to print and film’, by M. C. Green, S. Kass, J. Carrey, B. Herzig, R. Feeney and J. Sabini, Media Psychology (2008) vol. 11.4, pp.512-539
Conclusions: Two studies explored how ‘transported’ people felt (measured by mental creation of imagery, emotional response and attentional focus) when reading a narrative vs. when watching a film version of the same narrative. The studies found that
1. There was no statistically significant difference in how transported people felt whether they rea the print version of the narrative or watched the film version.
2. People who read the narrative first and then watched the film version felt the strongest sense of transportation (in comparison to those who only experienced one version of the narrative, or who watched the film version first and then read the print version).
Key caveats: This experiment was conducted in laboratory conditions. All participants were American undergraduates. The results were predominantly self-reported attitudinal data, which may not directly correlate with actual behaviour. The narrative was 3 pages long in print and 5 minutes long in film format: effects may vary with shorter narratives.
Source: ‘Increasing fundraising efficiency through evaluation: Applying communication theory to the nonprofit organization-donor relationship’, by R. D. Waters, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly (2011) vol. 40.3, pp.458-475
Conclusions: This study tested the impact of ten stewardship and interpersonal communication strategies on regular donors and major donors, including positivity, accessibility, expression of gratitude, etc. It found that while most impacted positively, one strategy had a negative impact on supporters’ evaluation of the relationship with the charity: use of verbal and written assurances (i.e. attempts to assure the supporter that she/he is important to the charity, that any concerns she/he concerns are legitimate and listened to, and that the charity is committed to maintaining the relationship). The study suggests that such assurances are not believed and/or counterproductive.
Key caveats: This study took place in America. It used a survey method: the results were therefore predominantly self-reported attitudinal data, which may not directly correlate with actual beliefs or behaviour. Respondents were all supporters of a non-profit hospital.
Keywords: small donations, persuasion
Source: ‘Let’s dialogue about penny: Effectiveness of dialogue involvement and legitimizing paltry contribution techniques’, by D. Dolinski, T. Grzyb, J. Olejnik, S. Prusakowski and K. Urban, Journal of Applied Social Psychology (2005) vol. 35.6, pp.1150-1170
Conclusions: This study found that in a street fundraising context:
1. Participants were more likely to donate if they first listened to a monologue about the charity than if they did not, but,
2. Participants were more likely to donate, and were more likely to donate more money, if they took part in a dialogue rather than listened to a monologue.
3. Participants were more likely to donate if the requester used a phrase which legitimised small donations (e.g. ‘every little helps).
Key caveats: This study took place in Poland.
Keywords: website, persuasion, emotion
Source: Impulsive donation decisions during online browsing of charity websites’, by R. Bennett, Journal of Consumer Behaviour (2009) vol. 8, pp.116-134
Conclusions: In this study, which investigated impulsive (unplanned) giving via charity websites, found that:
1. More than 10% of the survey participants, all of whom had donated via the charity website, had not planned to do so.
2. Nearly all of this percentage occasionally or frequently donated to charity.
3. Of that percentage, just under one half (group A) a) knew a lot about the general cause, b) were frequent donors to charity, and c) spent more time browsing the internet than the rest of that group. This portion were more likely to respond to an informative homepage than an emotive homepage.
4. The remainder of that percentage (just over half, group B) a) knew a lot about the cause, b) were occasional or frequent charity donors and c) spend less time browsing the internet than group A, and were more likely to respond to an emotive homepage.
Key caveats: The website used was a hospice website.
Keywords: persuasion, familiarity, awareness-raising
Source: ‘When promoting a charity can hurt charitable giving: A metacognitive analysis’, by R. W. Smith and N. Schwarz, Journal of Consumer Psychology (2012) vol. 22, pp.558.564
Conclusions: This study found that
1. In the context of a charity which has the direct goal of helping a group in need, potential donors who think they know a lot about a charity and its cause are more likely to donate.
2. In the context of a charity which has the direct goal of raising awareness, potential donors who think they know a lot about a charity and its cause are less likely to donate.
3. When a second version of this study involved real donations, as opposed to hypothetical donations, the size of actual donation was substantially smaller than was reported to be planned in the hypothetical situations, though the pattern of donations reported in conclusions 1 and 2 was the same.
Key caveats: This study took place in the USA. The study took place under laboratory conditions. All of the participants were undergraduates.
Keywords: persuasion, brand image
Source: ‘Nonprofit brand image and typicality influences on charitable giving’, by G. Michel, S. Rieunier, Journal of Business Research (2012), vol. 65.5, pp.701–707
Conclusions: This study found that
1. The affective quality of a charity brand (in this study, defined as how warm, engaging and generous the charity was perceived as being) positively influenced the likelihood of donation.
2. The affective quality of the charity brand exerted a greater influence on the decision to give time rather than money.
3. The intention to give money was influenced more by the perceived efficiency of the charity (in this study defined as well-managed, wise use of assets, seriousness and excellence of service to beneficiaries) than by the perceived affective quality of the brand.
Key caveats: This study explored donor intention behaviour rather than real donor behaviour. It involved face-to-face in-depth interviews and self-administered questionnaires. This study took place in France.