The first independent variable in our study is anthropomorphism. Anthropomorphism is when non-human entities are given human-like features such as communicating in human language, having emotions, or having physical features such as faces, fingers or hair. In our study, we will look specifically at animate entities such as trash cans, trees, light bulbs or bottles. There are two levels in anthropomorphism: level 1 is anthropomorphism where inanimate objects are presented with human-like facial features such as noses, mouths or eyes and with ability to communicate with participants through a message such as “I am burning hot!”; level 2 is non-anthropomorphism where inanimate objects are presented without human-like features and without ability to communicate, we will refer to the objects as itself through a message such as “The light-bulbs are burning hot!”.
The second independent variable is message type. Message type is a given message about a social cause in order to induce guilt in the participants. Level 1 of message type is naturalistic anticipated guilt message where the message suggests something participants can do to help a social campaign such as, “Please turn off the light when you leave the room”. Level 2 of message type is high anticipated guilt message where the message attempts to blame on the actions that participants fail to do in order to help or prevent the consequences of a social cause such as “You could have turned off the light when you left the room and saved millions of dollars”. Dependent variable is participants’ rating on a questionnaire about tendency to comply with a social campaign and levels of guilt. The tendency to comply is the willingness to support a campaign related to the delivered message and the objects that participants will encounter during the each condition. Level of guilt is how guilty they would feel if they fail to comply with the campaign. Both are measured with a questionnaire asking whether or not the participants would donate to help the social causes and how guilty they feel if they fail to comply with the campaign. Participants will rate each question in the questionnaire with an interval (Likert) scale from 0-10, such that 0 is “no feeling of guilt” or “absolutely will not support” and 10 is “high feeling of guilt” or “absolutely will support”. The score of their guilt level and tendency to comply will be added and averaged out to be one measurement of guilt/compliance tendency. Our first hypothesis is that anthropomorphized animate objects will induce more guilt that participants would feel if they fail to comply with the social campaign and increase the participants’ tendency of compliance with the social cause. Our second hypothesis is that high anticipated guilt message will provoke more guilt in participants when they fail to comply with social campaign and increase participants’ tendency to comply with the social cause. The third hypothesis is that there will be an interaction between anthropomorphism and message types, such that when objects are anthropomorphized, high anticipated guilt message will evoke more guilt when participants fail to comply with the social campaign and increase the participants’ tendency to comply with the social cause
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