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When selling good karma goes bad

When you’re paid to sell things, it doesn’t hurt to be able to stretch the truth or prey on people’s emotions once in a while. Most advertisers probably don’t spend too much time thinking about karma, then, but perhaps they should–at least if they want to get better at their jobs.

A new study by researchers from the University of California, Riverside and the University of Louisville has examined how consumers’ beliefs about karma influence their responses to charitable appeals in advertising. The findings show that people who believe in karma, despite seeing the positive benefits of doing good deeds, do not always respond favorably. The results suggest advertisers and marketers should consider customers’ karmic beliefs when seeking to incentivize pro-social behaviors.

Forthcoming in theĀ Journal of Consumer Research, the study, “In Pursuit of Good Karma: When Charitable Appeals to Do Right Go Wrong,” was authored by Katina Kulow, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Louisville. She completed the research as a graduate student under the direction of Thomas Kramer, associate professor of marketing at UCR’s School of Business Administration.

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