Marketers often use positive emotions such as hope, pride, love, and compassion interchangeably to encourage people to donate to charitable causes.  But these distinct emotions can lead to different results.

"Love is unique among positive emotions in fostering a feeling of connectedness," said researcher Lisa A. Cavanaugh from University of Southern California.  "Love inspires giving in a way that even closely related emotions such as compassion do not," she added.To arouse specific emotions, study participants engaged in self-reflective writing and viewed emotion-laden advertisements.

This study has serious implications for marketers, universities, charities, and nonprofits that seek contributions to projects with which donors have no personal relationship," said co-researcher James R. Bettman from Duke University."The current findings underscore the importance of focusing in such cases on the one positive emotion which best widens the giver's circle of caring," Bettman concluded.The study appeared in the Journal of Marketing Research.

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