Studies examining the persuasive effects of guilt appeals have yielded mixed results. The current study hypothesizes that source motive (profit versus not for profit) is a key moderating variable underlying these inconsistences. A controlled experiment tested the moderating role of sponsor motive on the relationship between guilt-appeal intensity and persuasiveness of the appeal and ad liking. Findings confirmed the notion that sponsor motive moderates the effects of guilt appeals: When guilt appeals are commercially oriented there is a relative failure of high-intensity guilt appeals compared to moderate-intensity guilt appeals. Moderate-intensity guilt appeals cause more-positive brand attitudes than high-intensity appeals. Yet, when guilt appeals are nonprofit, increases in intensity of guilt communicated lead to positive results. As the guilt-intensity increased, ad liking and persuasiveness increased. It appears that guilt-appeal intensity did not have an effect on brand attitudes when the message was nonprofit.
The effects of guilt-appeal intensity on persuasive and emotional outcomes
The moderating role of sponsor motive
Turner, M. M., Mabry-Flynn, A., Shen, H., Boudewyns, V., & Payne, D. (2017). The effects of guilt-appeal intensity on persuasive and emotional outcomes: The moderating role of sponsor motive. Journal of Nonprofit and Public Sector Marketing, 30(2), 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1080/10495142.2017.1326345