Making and Unmaking Cosmopolitans: An Experimental Test of the Mediating Role of Emotions in International Development Appeals*

David Hudson, N. Susan Laehn, Niheer Dasandi, Jennifer vanHeerde-Hudson
2019 Social Science Quarterly  
Objective. In this article, we test whether emotions mediate the effect of international development appeals on cosmopolitanism and donation behavior. Methods. We design and conduct a lab experiment to test the impact of representations of global poverty on participants' cosmopolitan sentiments and their likelihood to donate to development charities. We use multiple mediation analysis to test the intervening role of six emotional responses-anger, guilt, solidarity, hope, repulsion, and pity-as
more » ... lsion, and pity-as causal pathways to our two outcomes of interest: cosmopolitanism and donations. Results. Hope is the most consistent and powerful pathway through which appeals affect respondents' sense of cosmopolitanism and willingness to donate. Negative imagery and text erode people's sense of hope, but drive donations, particularly via guilt. Conclusions. Our findings suggest we should move away from a mono-causal view of emotional responses to disaster and development imagery, and provide a cautionary tale for practitioners: using negative imagery can undermine the public's sense of hope and cosmopolitanism. On December 26, 2004, pictures of the Asian tsunami disaster were transmitted around the world. As a result of the largest earthquake for 40 years, an estimated 227,898 people were killed, missing, or presumed dead, and a further 1.7 million people were displaced (USGS, 2004; Downman, 2006; Osborne, 2014) . The magnitude of the humanitarian response matched the size of the tsunami. Globally, a total of 14 billion U.S. dollars were donated, nearly half of which were from private individuals (Hutchison, 2014) . In the United Kingdom alone, the Disaster Emergency Committee's (DEC) appeal raised £392 million from the British public (DEC, 2016). The "graphic and intensely emotional" nature of media broadcasts of the tsunami and its aftermath highlights the centrality of emotions-such as pity, compassion, and solidarity-in how the disaster was understood and responded to. As Hutchison (2014:6) argues: "Recognizing that emotions are bound up *
doi:10.1111/ssqu.12587 fatcat:di7dcc3ywncghawiso7deu6t3y