The effects of guilt-appeal intensity on persuasive and emotional outcomes: The moderating role of sponsor motive
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.