Putting a human face on social causes Philip Marsh is Laurier’s 10th Canada Research Chair By Elin Edwards By Mallory O’Brien Companies often put a personal face on products in an attempt to reach a deeper connection with consumers. Now new research in the upcoming edition of Psychological Science shows the same idea can be applied to social causes. Putting a human face on the campaign for a social cause actually increases support for it, according to the study from a team of researchers from the University of Toronto Scarborough, Wilfrid Laurier University and Hanyang University (South Korea). Pankaj Aggarwal, a professor in the Department of Management at UTSC and the Rotman School of Management; Hae Joo Kim, assistant professor of Marketing at Wilfrid Laurier University and Hee-Kyung Ahn, assistant professor of Marketing at Hanyang University, South Korea, found that anthropomorphizing social causes is effective because it appeals to people’s sense of guilt. “We are not consciously aware
of why seeing a human face on a campaign has an impact, but we definitely feel a deeper connection to it,” says Aggarwal. “When we see an entity feeling pain we would feel guilty if we could have done something to prevent it. We also wouldn’t want that burden on ourselves so we would act accordingly to help that entity.” People are not motivated to support social causes because it involves a personal sacrifice of time, money and effort. It’s only when they stop to consider the consequences of not participating — and feel guilty as a result — that they begin to comply. Using energy conservation, recycling and the environment as social causes, the researchers found that drawing a human face showing emotions on the poster increased support for each cause. In one experiment the researchers put eyes and a mouth with a caption that read “Please feed me food waste” on a bin for organic waste. The face on the bin looks sad because of an
apparent lack of participation in recycling food waste. They found participants were more likely to place food waste in the bin with a human face compared to the ordinary, non-anthropomorphized bin. “Not only did we find participants felt guilty about not complying with the social cause, but they also felt guilty about harming another being, in the form of an anthropomorphized light bulb, waste basket or tree,” says Kim. Government agencies and charities use a variety of expensive and often ineffective financial instruments, such as fines, to encourage participation in social causes, says Aggarwal. “It’s hard to induce pro-social behaviour,” says Kim. “Because the pro-social duties such as recycling are spread across society, people feel less individually responsible and often slack off.” Putting a human face on a social cause, says Aggarwal, may offer an inexpensive yet highly effective means of gaining more support.
Philip Marsh has been named Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Cold Regions Water Science at Laurier. The appointment was announced Nov. 14 by the Honourable Greg Rickford, Minister of State for Science and Technology. Marsh joins Laurier’s Department of Geography and Environmental Studies after 30 years as a research scientist with Environment Canada at the National Hydrology Research Centre in Saskatchewan. During that time, he spent 25 years as an adjunct professor at the University of Saskatchewan where he supervised many PhD and MSc students, including Laurier Associate Professor Bill Quinton. Marsh’s research has been carried out in Canada’s far north with the goal of understanding water-cycle processes, and the environmental impacts of climate change and northern energy development. His research has informed policy development at a federal level and helped develop operational models used by
Environment Canada. Building on his past work, Marsh’s Canada Research Chair program will use an integrated approach, involving the often separate disciplines of hydrology, ecology, and climatology. Working in existing long-term research sites at Trail Valley Creek and Havikpak Creek near Inuvik, NWT, he will examine the effects of interrelated changes in climate, boreal forest and tundra vegetation, snow and permafrost on streamflow and lake levels. Marsh joins two other CRCs in cold regions and water research at Laurier: Bill Quinton, Canada Research Chair in Cold Regions Hydrology, and Jennifer Baltzer, Canada Research Chair in Forests and Global Change. Marsh becomes Laurier’s 10th Canada Research Chair. He has also joined the ranks of researchers in the Laurier Cold Regions Research Centre and the Laurier Institute for Water Science. Photo: Kevin Klein
Laurier researcher shows anthropomorphizing creates a deeper connection
Faculty participate in Inspired Change Summit By Mallory O’Brien Faculty and friends of Laurier gathered together Nov. 20 for the Inspired Change Summit: Innovation in UniversityCommunity Enterprises, to discuss ways to raise the profile of social entrepreneurship in universities. The event began with a keynote from Jonathan Isham, faculty director of the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and professor of Economics, Middlebury College, who discussed how to teach social entrepreneurship. Campuses and students around the world are transforming entrepreneurship to be a little more social, and transforming social organizations to be a little more marketable. “To teach students about social entrepreneurship is, in the end, to
teach them about themselves,” he said. The day also included two panel discussions that showcased local community-university entrepreneurial partnerships and student projects conducted through the
Laurier Launchpad program, break-out seminars and a poster session. The summit was part of AUCC’s Open Doors, Open Knowledge: Community-University Engagement initiative.
Name: Siobhan Bhagwat Job Title: Intermediate Administrative Assistant, Alumni Relations & Annual Giving Book Title: My Life as an Experiment: One Man’s Humble Quest to Improve Himself Author: A.J. Jacobs
(l-r): Panelists Mike Morrice, executive director Sustainable Waterloo Region; Bronwyn Oatley, associate at Studio Y; Jonathan Isham, faculty director, Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Middlebury College, and Deb McLatchy, Laurier vice-president: academic and provost.
New home of business and mathematics takes shape
The adage “write what you know” doesn’t work for Jacobs, who believes his real life is boring, so he initiates social experiments and becomes a human guinea pig. This collection of essays detailing 10 of his experiments, is an interesting and humorous read with some startling insights. Jacobs does not just begin an experiment (i.e. being radically honest in all aspects of his life), he provides his reader with tidbits of his research as well as a reflective summary about his experience. And although he’s careful to not overgeneralize, he hints at possible societal impacts of certain behaviours.
What are you listening to? Name: Dwayne Bereziuk Job Title: Technical Support Specialist, Brantford Radio Show: Jamie Cullum on BBC Radio 2 and Jazz FM
At the end of November, construction crews began installing structural steel and reinforced concrete at the site of the new home of the School of Business & Economics and Department of Mathematics on University Avenue.
Jamie Cullum’s first major label album, Twenty Something, rapidly became the fastest selling jazz album in UK history, selling 2.5 million copies. Since April 2010, he has been presenting a weekly jazz show on BBC Radio 2 and Jazz FM. The show often leads to a vigorous search of at least one featured artist. Recent examples include Matthew Halsall and Gregory Porter. So whether you’re jazz veteran or just starting to dabble, Jamie’s program is sure to entice.