There hasn’t been much research on comparing similarly perceived emotions like guilt and shame in domestic violence prevention messages, that too in an Eastern context (India). “The Journal of Advertising was coming out with a Special Issue focusing on Advertising in Asia and we thought this study would be a perfect fit” Dr. Sid explains.
The effectiveness of guilt and shame has been thoroughly researched in the West so this was a great opportunity to explore how guilt and shame would be perceived among individuals in India, especially, to motivate an important pro-social behavior like bystander intervention. With respect to the findings, it was interesting to note that shame was more effective than ads with guilt and the control. However, what was more intriguing was that ads with negative emotions (and lack of) were equally effective among those with an independent self-construal. Basically, such ad appeals were not as important as the duty to help a victim in need. A probable answer lies in research that touches on the characteristics of the independent self-construal (being assertive, autonomous, and possessing a stronger sense of equality), which could explain these gaps in future studies.
Self-construal refers to the grounds of self-definition, and the extent to which the self is defined independently of others or interdependently with others. Initially, the term derived from perceived cultural differences in the self. Westerners were thought to have an independent self-construal, which is characterized by separateness from others, by attention to one’s abilities, traits, preferences, and wishes, and by the primacy of one’s individual goals over those of in-groups. East Asians were thought to have an interdependent self-construal, which is characterized by a sense of fundamental connectedness with others, by attention to one’s role in in-groups, and by the primacy of group goals over one’s individual goals. Later, a third characterization, the relational self-construal, was proposed; it represents the ways that people may define themselves in terms of close, dyadic relationships. Social and cultural psychologists now view these as three dimensions of the self, which virtually all people construct to some degree. Cultural differences in self-definition arise through differences in the relative strength or elaboration of these self-construals. Consequently, the literature on self-construal can seem somewhat confusing: self-construal is described at times in terms of very different understandings of the self in different cultures, and at other times in terms of universal dimensions (independent, relational, or interdependent) that vary in strength in different cultures (source: Oxford Bibliographies).
Dr. Carrie La Ferle, Dr. Sid Muralidharan & Dr. Anna Kim “Using Guilt and Shame Appeals from an Eastern Perspective to Promote Bystander Intervention: A Study of Mitigating Domestic Violence in India” Journal of Advertising, 2019.
Domestic violence is an ongoing health issue affecting women around the world. Bystander intervention is one way to help minimize occurrences of domestic violence in the future. However, bystanders tend to be apathetic toward the victims they happen to encounter or observe. In the current study, we explored the effectiveness of negative emotions (i.e., guilt and shame) on attitude toward the ad and reporting intention of bystanders in India. Drawing from fluency in processing theory and conceptualizing guilt and shame from an Eastern perspective, we found that ads featuring emotional appeals strengthened reporting intention more than control ads did. We also found that self-construal affected the process. Multiple regressions revealed that shame was more effective for individuals with an interdependent self-view and that individuals with an independent self-view were indifferent to the presence or absence of negative emotions in ads. Theoretical and managerial implications are discussed.
Click for the full publication: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00913367.2019.1668893