Behavioral Psychology Behind Store Charity Appeals
October 9, 2013
(Time Cover, Sept. 20 1971)
B.F. Skinner was a founder of behavioral psychology which sees man as a soulless creature trainable like an animal. Its goal is behavior modification as in the field of Social Marketing.
Stevan writes that store charity appeals are part of "Social Marketing,"
which trains people to act on the basis of emotion and conformity.
Hence the "public shaming" if you don't donate.
Although people like to think of themselves as rational, research shows that people are far more susceptible to emotional responses than rational arguments.
"80% of the factors influencing behaviour did not stem from knowledge or awareness." Fliegenschnee and Shelakovsky, 1998.
"The starting assumption in behavioral psychology should be that consciousness doesn't play a role in human behavior."
Robert Povine, Psychologist
The purpose of Social Marketing is to modify behavior and create a conditioned response, a reaction without thinking.
Social Marketing is the primary tool of behavior modification for all institutions from governments to corporate advertisers. The aim is to to control behavior through positive or negative emotional reinforcements. As Social Marketing works at distance (i.e non physical stimulus) it must work on universal emotional memes.
Examples of negative memes include, fear, guilt, shame, social/gender conformity, social ostracism, disgust, anger, distrust and inadequacy (weakness). Positive memes are primarily social reinforcements and include, social proof, pride, patriotism and sexual desirability.
Practical examples include, climate change (fear), feminism (gender conformity), charities (guilt), discrimination (shame), terrorism (fear and patriotism), Facebook (social conformity), homophobia (inadequacy) etc.
Demographic research, market segmentation research and focus group studies are all designed to tailor Social Marketing campaigns to individual target populations.
Since the purpose of Social Marketing is to 'modify' behavior, negative reinforcements are far more effective as the message needs to create emotional discomfort in the target who then can alleviate the discomfort by changing their behavior.
People need to be aware of the extent of Social Marketing in order to protect themselves from this attack.
FEAR, GUILT, AND SHAME APPEALS IN SOCIAL MARKETING