This is one of those studies that if you haven’t read by now you really need to. Read the study and think about the end-user and what they are experiencing as they move through the donation experience. Have that “read more” link or explanation of why your donation form is secure? Check those abandon rates and consider what may be affecting that key metric that you need to be watching.


Emotion expression on charitable appeals may be an important variable affecting donations. Expression is likely to cause contagion in observers, thus influencing observers’ emotional states automatically and outside of awareness. When a person catches sadness, his or her emotional state converges with the victim’s negative emotional state, resulting in greater sympathy and prosocial behavior.

However, the emotional bond may be disrupted when examining detailed information about the victim’s plight. This is not to say that information cannot induce sympathy but rather that it dilutes or even overrides the impact of emotional contagion.

The Face of Need: Facial Emotion Expression on Charity Advertisements (Download the PDF)

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