Accountability is good

In an article I just published in the Journal of Consumer Marketing (read it here or email me for a copy) I found that with a variety of prosocial messages (get a flu shot, buy a sunscreen that is less harmful to the environment, eat less meat one day per week), people respond better—and are more open to taking the positive action—if the message is framed optimally.

That is when they are alone, they resonate more with a message that touts benefits to the individual (see first ad below). However, when they think they are going to have to talk or justify their answers to other people, they resonate more with an ad that touts global benefits (see second ad below).

Humans are very social creatures and I’m fascinated with how the presence or absence of others (even online, and even just thinking about others) can influence our decision making.