Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 21 Issue 6 (March 1991), Pages 433-523

Influence of a Photograph on a Charitable Appeal: A Picture May Be Worth a Thousand Words When It Has to Speak for Itself (pages 433-445)

Several studies were conducted examining the influence of the use of photographs of a needy individual on a charity appeal for either a well‐known or lesser‐known charity organization. Results of an initial study indicated that people expected the use of a photograph to enhance the effectiveness of a door‐to‐door solicitation campaign and that a well‐known charity would fare better than a lesser‐known one in its efforts. Results of two subsequent studies involving door‐to‐door solicitations, however. indicated that the proportion of people contributing and the average amount contributed was not dependent upon either the photograph or familiarity with the charity. A final study using a passive countertop solicitation in stores did result in greater contributions when the photograph was present, whereas there was no difference due to charity familiarity. These findings are discussed in terms of image‐maintenance concerns and social pressures associated with the immediacy of a request.

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