February 20, 2015

Anita Page

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Major and Classification

Communication

Faculty Mentors

  • Professor Deborah MacInnis

Department

McNair Project

“Understanding Messages of Guilt and Shame Communicated in Advertisements”

Previously, researchers focused almost exclusively on understanding the concept of guilt as an effective tool in advertising. However, guilt and shame are two separate emotions with distinguishing factors. This study explores messages of guilt and shame in contemporary advertisements in an effort to formulate a typology of the characteristics in guilt- and shame-inducing ads through qualitative, textual analysis. Print advertisements that use guilt and shame in their messaging provide data I use to advance a framework. I analyze the data from both psychological and marketing perspectives. I then discuss possible implications of the various appeals to consumer behavior and advertising effectiveness. By understanding the distinctions and characteristics of these two emotions, I suggest that my research will inform future researchers and advertisers in how they conceptualize guilt and shame in effective advertising in the psychological and marketing scholarship.