The Braggart's Dilemma: On the Social Rewards and Penalties of Advertising Prosocial Behavior

Berman, J Z and Levine, E E and Barasch, A and Small, D A (2015) The Braggart's Dilemma: On the Social Rewards and Penalties of Advertising Prosocial Behavior. Journal of Marketing Research, 52 (1). pp. 90-104. ISSN 0022-2437

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People often brag about, or advertise, their good deeds to others. Seven studies investigate how bragging about prosocial behavior affects perceived generosity. The authors propose that bragging conveys information about an actor's good deeds, leading to an attribution of generosity. However, bragging also signals a selfish motivation (a desire for credit) that undermines the attribution of generosity. Thus, bragging has a positive effect when prosocialbehavior is unknown because it informs others that an actor has behaved generously. However, bragging does not help - and often hurts - when prosocial behavior is already known, because it signals a selfish motive. Additionally, the authors demonstrate that conspicuous cause marketingproducts have effects akin to bragging by signaling an impure motive for doing good deeds. Finally, the authors argue that bragging about prosocial behavior is unique because it undermines the precise information that the braggart is trying to convey (generosity). In contrast, bragging about personal achievements does not affect perceptions of the focal trait conveyed in the brag. These findings underscore the strategic considerations inherent in signaling altruism.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2014 American Marketing Association
Subject Areas: Marketing
DOI: 10.1509/jmr.14.0002
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2016 18:51
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2016 10:01

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