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The limitations of guilt and shame in Public Service Announcements December 21, 2010

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
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A study released in 2010 out of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management suggested many PSA’s have been strategically misguided. Although guilt and shame have long been used in ads designed to warn audiences of dangerous behavior, the Northwestern study found that many viewers already feeling some guilt or shame instinctively resist these kinds of messages. Instead of feeling more guilty, these viewers tend to disassociate themselves with whatever is being shown to lessen their emotional pain.

The classic example of this kind of flawed approach might be seen in this classic ad:

Discussion Questions:

1.  What kinds of classic ads can you think of used strategies of guilting and shaming target audiences?

2.  One implication of the Northwestern study would be that those classic studies were successful in raising awareness of a problem, but unsuccessful in changing the behaviors of the target audience. Do you agree with this finding? Why, or why not?

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