Guilt Appeals in Advertising: What Are Their Effects?

Robin Higie Coulter, Mary Beth Pinto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

172 Scopus citations


This study examined consumers' emotional responses, their attitudes toward advertisements and brands, attributions about the companies promoting the brands, and purchase intention for ads varying on level of guilt appeal. Sixty working mothers, a prime target of guilt appeals, participated in the study. Results indicated that moderate guilt appeals elicited more felt guilt in the working mothers than did low or high guilt appeals. Furthermore, emotional responses, particularly anger, mediated the relationship between level of guilt appeal and consumers' attitudes and corporate attributions, and an inverse relationship occurred between level of guilt appeal and attitudes and attributions. Purchase intention was affected by the level of the guilt appeal and by anger.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)697-705
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology


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