Effects of negative social information on the willingness to support charities: the moderating role of regulatory focus
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionMarketing letters. 2020, . 10.1007/s11002-020-09540-w
Donation campaigns that have an unsuccessful start often trigger negative social information in the social and mass media (e.g., “few others have donated so far”). Little research exists to shed light on the effects of such information in the context of donations. Across three studies involving different causes and different channels of communication, we find harmful effects of negative social information on the willingness to donate among prevention-focused consumers but tendencies of positive effects for consumers with a promotion focus. We identify response efficacy as a mediator of the harmful effect for prevention-focused consumers. This finding suggests that social proof theory is not sufficient to explain the harmful effect of negative social information. Alternative mediators are tested and rejected. The findings imply that an effective strategy to avoid harmful effects of negative social information is to trigger a promotion focus in target group members and communicate facts about charity effectiveness.