A content analysis of guilt appeals in animal welfare campaigns

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Wen, Tianxin
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Su Jung Kim
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Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication
The Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication offers two majors: Advertising (instructing students in applied communication for work in business or industry), and Journalism and Mass Communication (instructing students in various aspects of news and information organizing, writing, editing, and presentation on various topics and in various platforms). The Department of Agricultural Journalism was formed in 1905 in the Division of Agriculture. In 1925 its name was changed to the Department of Technical Journalism. In 1969 its name changed to the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications; from 1969 to 1989 the department was directed by all four colleges, and in 1989 was placed under the direction of the College of Sciences and Humanities (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences). In 1998 its name was changed to the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.
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Guilt appeals are common promotion strategies used by animal welfare organizations and animal shelters; however, little research has paid enough attention to the formation of guilt appeals and the association among different elements of guilt appeals. The purpose of this study is to investigate the frequency of different guilt appeal-generating elements used in animal welfare campaigns and the relationship among these elements. A content analysis of 338 animal welfare campaign posters for eight animal welfare topics was conducted using data from Google and Bing image search engines.

The research found that reactive guilt and anticipatory guilt are both most frequently used in animal welfare campaigns. In addition, most campaign posters tend to include harmfulness in their content. The statements of fact and victims are the most frequently expressed verbal and visual message, respectively. This study also found that components of guilt appeals are associated with different types of guilt. However, the association between guilt types, the intensity of guilt, and visual messages dis not show any statistical significance. Overall, this study advances the understanding of how animal welfare organizations attempt to achieve their persuasive goals by using guilt appeals. Moreover, the findings from this study provide a foundation on how guilt is created from theoretical and practical perspectives for those interested in researching the effect of guilt appeals used in animal welfare campaigns.

Fri Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2016