Guilt and Shame: environmental message framing effects

Document Type



guilt; shame; environmental messages; conservation; environment; advertising; framing effects

Identifier Data



Taylor & Francis Online

Publication Source

Journal of Advertising, 46(3), 440-453


The authors examine how two negative emotions—guilt and shame—influence responses to environmental ad messages framed as gains or losses. In Study 1, participants primed with guilt express higher intention to conserve water after they view a gain-framed water conservation ad; participants primed with shame express higher conservation intention after they view a loss-framed ad. Study 2 replicates and supports the proposed matching hypothesis using nonstudent adults. In Study 3, participants react to a recycling ad as they did in Studies 1 and 2 when they expend high effort by transcribing the recycle pledge before they view the ad, but not when they expend low effort by reading the pledge first. The findings overall provide converging evidence for the interplay between negative emotions and message framing. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed for developing environmental advertising message strategies.