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Getting Consumers to Recycle NOW! When and Why Cuteness Appeals Influence Prosocial and Sustainable Behavior

Wang, T., Mukhopadhyay, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-8737-0383 & Patrick, V. M. (2017). Getting Consumers to Recycle NOW! When and Why Cuteness Appeals Influence Prosocial and Sustainable Behavior. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 36(2), pp. 269-283. doi: 10.1509/jppm.16.089


Policy makers and social agencies need novel insights to manage the major global challenge of encouraging prosocial and sustainable behaviors. This research identifies a positive aesthetic cue, “Kindchenschema cuteness,” that can reliably induce some people—specifically, those who exhibit high approach motivational orientation (per the behavioral approach system [BAS]; Carver and White 1994)—to engage in prosocial and conservation behaviors. Studies 1 and 2 show that consumers high (vs. low) in BAS (measured) react more favorably to conservation appeals featuring cuteness, an effect mediated by experienced feelings of tenderness. Study 3 replicates the effect using a prime of approach motivation (BAS) to assess donation intentions. Study 4, a large-scale field experiment conducted over eight weeks at multiple locations, shows that people recycle more at bins featuring cute visuals with active (high-BAS) messages compared with bins featuring cute visuals with passive (low-BAS) messages. The authors conclude with a discussion of practical implications for policy makers.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2017 American Marketing Association.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
SWORD Depositor:
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