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Guilt Versus Shame: Coping Strategies and Message Framing Effects on Persuasion

Associate Professor Adam Duhachek, Indiana University

13th May 2011  03:00 pm - 04:30 pm Room 214/215, H69 - Economics and Business Building

Four experiments examine the effectiveness of health messages as function of ambient emotion and message frames. While past research has focused on examining the role of positive versus negative emotions on the effectiveness of gain or loss message frames, we propose that the two negative emotions of guilt and shame can differentially affect persuasion from gain versus loss message frames due to distinct efficacy appraisals. We show that individuals experiencing guilt are more persuaded by health messages employing gain frames whereas individuals experiencing shame are more persuaded by loss frames in a responsible drinking ad context. These persuasion effects occur because gain frames facilitate the use of problem-focused coping strategies favored by guilt-laden consumers whereas loss frames facilitate the use of emotion-focused coping strategies favored by shame-laden consumers. We demonstrate that coping facilitates the processing of the health messages, thereby enhancing persuasion. We further show that making problem focused (emotion-focused) coping strategies more available to shame-laden (guilt-laden) consumers allows them to mimic the persuasive effects of guilt-laden (shame-laden) consumers, providing strong evidence of the theoretical process at work. These effects manifested on perceptions of risks associated with drinking, intentions to binge-drink, and time spent viewing alcohol advertising.