Author: Heijink, Marloes
Title: Guilt trips : how nudity in advertising enhances pro-social behaviour
Advisors: Jiang, Yuwei (MM)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2019
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Human body in advertising
Advertising -- Moral and ethical aspects
Advertising -- Psychological aspects
Department: Department of Management and Marketing
Pages: xiii, 155 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: The purpose of this thesis was to better understand the effect of using nudity in advertising on feelings of guilt, the moral self and downstream consequences for pro-social behaviour. First, the Guilt from Nudity in Advertising (GNA) scale was developed and validated by means of four studies. The scale measures three types of guilt (for hurting the self, hurting others, and hurting society) that may occur from viewing nudity in ads. A series of seven studies then demonstrated that viewing advertisements that contain nudity elicited guilt, compared to viewing ads without nudity. As a consequence, people became more pro-social to rid themselves of this guilt - even though the pro-social behaviour was unrelated to the source of the guilt. It was further demonstrated that guilt for hurting the self mediated the effect of ads with nudity on pro-social behaviour, and not guilt for hurting others or society. The effect of nudity in ads on pro-social behaviour was attenuated when the nudity seemed appropriate - meaning there was no transgression and thus no guilt -, when participants reduced their guilt through positive self-affirmation first, and when they were asked to imagine watching the ads together with a friend, which gave participants the idea that it was socially acceptable. A higher level of religiosity made the main effect stronger. Lastly, it was shown that the effect of nudity in ads on intention to help a charity was only applicable when the charity had a long-term focus, rather than a short-term focus. The present research makes several key contributions by offering insights into a novel effect by studying its mechanism and boundary effects. The most important theoretical contribution is the finding that guilt has multiple facets depending on what one is feeling guilty about, and that these types of guilt have distinct attitudinal and behavioural consequences. The newly developed scale allows for better and more accurate measurement of guilt as a multi-dimensional construct.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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