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
Date Written: March 6, 2009
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
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