The Face of Need: Facial Emotion Expression on Charity Advertisements

Small, Deborah A. and Nicole M. Verrochi (2009), “The Face of Need: Facial Emotion Expression on Charity Advertisements,” Journal of Marketing Research, December (46: 6), 777-787.

12 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2015

See all articles by Deborah A. Small

Deborah A. Small

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department; Carnegie Mellon University

Nicole Coleman

University of Pittsburgh - Marketing Group

Date Written: March 6, 2009

Abstract

Advertisements for charities often display photographs of the people they help to evoke the kind of sympathy that engenders giving. This article examines how the expression of emotion on a victim’s face affects both sympathy and giving. Building on theories of emotional contagion and sympathy, the authors propose that (1) people “catch” the emotions displayed on a victim’s face and (2) they are particularly sympathetic and likely to donate when they see sad expressions versus happy or neutral expressions. Consistent with emotional contagion, participants felt sadder when viewing a sad-faced victim, and their own sadness mediated the effect of emotion expression on sympathy. Contagion effects are automatic and noninferential, but they are diminished by deliberative thought. The authors discuss the implications of using subtle emotional expressions on charitable and other marketing appeals.

Keywords: emotional contagion, charitable marketing, prosocial behavior, emotion expression

Suggested Citation

Small, Deborah A. and Coleman, Nicole, The Face of Need: Facial Emotion Expression on Charity Advertisements (March 6, 2009). Small, Deborah A. and Nicole M. Verrochi (2009), “The Face of Need: Facial Emotion Expression on Charity Advertisements,” Journal of Marketing Research, December (46: 6), 777-787., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2574734

Deborah A. Small (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department ( email )

700 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6340
United States

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Nicole Coleman

University of Pittsburgh - Marketing Group ( email )

United States
4126244190 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.business.pitt.edu/katz/faculty/coleman.php

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