Anti-child-abuse ads: believability and willingness-to-act

Michael Hyman (College of Business, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA)
Haseeb Shabbir (Department of Marketing, Hull University Business School, Hull, UK)
Simos Chari (Department of Marketing, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK)
Aikaterini Oikonomou (University of Leeds, Leeds, UK)

Journal of Social Marketing

ISSN: 2042-6763

Publication date: 28 January 2014



Given their expense, the psycho-dynamic they induce among many viewers, and the lack of empirical evidence for their efficacy, studies to assess anti-child-abuse ad campaigns are warranted. As a preliminary foray into this research domain, this study explores a dual-process model for a single ad from the NSPCC's FULL STOP campaign. Specifically, it examines whether ad believability relates more strongly to an emotional or a cognitive response and which type of response is the strongest mediator on “willingness to act against child abuse”.


A convenience sample of 242 students enrolled in postgraduate business and management studies at a large university in the UK responded to a structured questionnaire posted online.


Except for H3, the hypothesised relationships are significant and in the expected direction. Specifically, ad believability relates negatively related to self-esteem (H1), self-esteem relates positively to “willingness to act against child abuse” (H2), and belief in child sexual abuse (CSA) myths relates negatively to “willingness to act against child abuse” (H4). However, ad believability does not relate negatively to belief in CSA myths (H3).

Research limitations/implications

Findings based on student samples should be interpreted cautiously. For example, representations of child abuse across subpopulations should not be ignored, as findings by culture, ethnicity, or gender may differ. Only one ad was tested; responses to other ads may differ. Controls to boost internal validity, such as using a second group unexposed to the test ad, were not implemented. Although a mediation effect between self-esteem and CSA myths was not observed, a larger or alternative sample might reveal this effect.


A dual-process model of viewers' responses to anti-child-abuse ads, which assumes viewers consider the information embedded in these ads and their emotional responses to these ads, should outperform a purely cognitive or emotive model. Here, a simple model with emotional and cognitive factors as antecedents of “willingness to act against child abuse” is tested. Although a more comprehensive model might explain additional variation, the goal was to develop and test a preliminary model that could disconfirm a dual cognitive-emotive process. Furthermore, testing the effect of FULL STOP ads on viewers' self-esteem is an important first step to assessing the efficacy and ethicality of these ads.



Hyman, M., Shabbir, H., Chari, S. and Oikonomou, A. (2014), "Anti-child-abuse ads: believability and willingness-to-act", Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 58-76.

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