Aww effect: Engaging consumers in “non-cute” prosocial initiatives with cuteness

Joongwon Shin, Anna S. Mattila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Engaging consumers in prosocial practices can increase their favorable responses toward a company. We suggest that cuteness cues of a third party (i.e., neither beneficiary nor benefactor) spur consumer engagement in such practices. It is well-known that a cute X stands a higher chance of being helped than a non-cute Y. This research examines a novel effect of cuteness which we call the “aww effect”: How does an exposure to a cute X influence consumers’ prosociality benefitting a non-cute Y? The results from four studies show that viewing cute images and listening to cute sounds prompt prosocial responses enhancing the welfare of a non-cute target. Moreover, cuteness cues increase the effectiveness of an appeal emphasizing benefits to non-cute targets (vs. benefits to the self). Taken together, our findings lend converging support to the aww effect and inform marketers of an effective use of cuteness cues to engage consumers in prosocial initiatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-220
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Business Research
StatePublished - Mar 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Marketing


Dive into the research topics of 'Aww effect: Engaging consumers in “non-cute” prosocial initiatives with cuteness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this