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Exemplars and the Application of the Desert Heuristic When Responding to Fundraising Attempts
Unformatted Document Text:  6 Attitude toward donating money to the Aids Fund The attitude toward donating money to the Aids Fund was measured using the clause “I find giving money to the Aids Fund”, followed by four seven-point semantic differentials. A balanced scale was employed. The reliability of the scale was good (Cronbach’s ∀ = .83). Next, the participants were asked to indicate on seven-point Likert-scales the extent to which they agreed with the following statements: “People with Aids need financial support” and “The Aids Fund does lots of good work for people with Aids”, and “People suffering from Aids usually have themselves to blame”. The latter item was used to assess the general responsibility perception. Text evaluation Next, the participants could indicate their evaluation of the letter’s clarity and appeal on ten seven-point semantic differentials. Again, a balanced scale was used. The reliability of the scale was adequate (Cronbach’s ∀ = .78). This variable was included to back up the plausibility of the instruction participants received. Manipulation check To check whether the responsibility manipulation had been successful, the participants had to indicate their feelings toward the person in the letter (“I pity Marc”, “I’m angry with Marc”). They also were asked to indicate on a seven-point scale the extent to which Marc could be held responsible for contracting Aids. Procedure Participants took part in the experiment as part of a course requirement. They were told that several Dutch universities were studying the comprehensibility and attractiveness of Dutch fundraising letters. In the experiment , they had to evaluate a letter of the Aids Fund. They were instructed to read the letter carefully and to give their opinion about it. Next, the different versions of the letter were distributed at random. The questionnaire was printed on the reverse side of the letter. The following information was inserted at the top of the letter: “The way you rate the letter may be influenced by your opinion of the Aids Fund. Therefore, we would first like to know what you think about the Aids Fund.” After the participants had filled in the questionnaire and handed it in, the goal and background of the study were explained and any remaining questions were answered. An experimental session took about ten minutes. Results First, it was checked to see whether the manipulation had the intended effect. There was a main effect of the responsibility manipulation on the perceived responsibility of the person in the (F (2, 149) = 82.69, p < .001, η 2 = .53). Post hoc comparisons revealed that the person in the not-responsible version (wife having a secret affair) was held less responsible (M = 2.06, SD = 1.16) than the responsible version (having unsafe sex with several girlfriends: 5.36, SD = 1.21), the half responsible version always taking an intermediate position (M = 3.37, SD = 1.55).

Authors: Hoeken, Hans. and Hustinx, Lettica.
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6
Attitude toward donating money to the Aids Fund
The attitude toward donating money to the Aids Fund was measured using the clause “I find
giving money to the Aids Fund”, followed by four seven-point semantic differentials. A
balanced scale was employed. The reliability of the scale was good (Cronbach’s
= .83).

Next, the participants were asked to indicate on seven-point Likert-scales the extent to which
they agreed with the following statements: “People with Aids need financial support” and
“The Aids Fund does lots of good work for people with Aids”, and “People suffering from
Aids usually have themselves to blame”. The latter item was used to assess the general
responsibility perception.

Text evaluation
Next, the participants could indicate their evaluation of the letter’s clarity and appeal on
ten seven-point semantic differentials. Again, a balanced scale was used. The reliability of
the scale was adequate (Cronbach’s
= .78). This variable was included to back up the
plausibility of the instruction participants received.

Manipulation check
To check whether the responsibility manipulation had been successful, the participants
had to indicate their feelings toward the person in the letter (“I pity Marc”, “I’m angry with
Marc”). They also were asked to indicate on a seven-point scale the extent to which Marc
could be held responsible for contracting Aids.
Procedure

Participants took part in the experiment as part of a course requirement. They were told that
several Dutch universities were studying the comprehensibility and attractiveness of Dutch
fundraising letters. In the experiment , they had to evaluate a letter of the Aids Fund. They
were instructed to read the letter carefully and to give their opinion about it.
Next, the different versions of the letter were distributed at random. The questionnaire
was printed on the reverse side of the letter. The following information was inserted at the top
of the letter:
“The way you rate the letter may be influenced by your opinion of the Aids Fund. Therefore,
we would first like to know what you think about the Aids Fund.”
After the participants had filled in the questionnaire and handed it in, the goal and
background of the study were explained and any remaining questions were answered. An
experimental session took about ten minutes.
Results

First, it was checked to see whether the manipulation had the intended effect. There was a
main effect of the responsibility manipulation on the perceived responsibility of the person in
the (F (2, 149) = 82.69, p < .001,
η
2
= .53). Post hoc comparisons revealed that the person in
the not-responsible version (wife having a secret affair) was held less responsible (M = 2.06,
SD = 1.16) than the responsible version (having unsafe sex with several girlfriends: 5.36, SD
= 1.21), the half responsible version always taking an intermediate position (M = 3.37, SD =
1.55).


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