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Eliciting positive social change: marketing’s capacity to drive prosocial behaviours

Aron O'Cass (The University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia)
Deborah Griffin (Department of Marketing, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia.)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 3 August 2015




While social marketing has been utilised to bring about positive social change, ultimately, the decision to engage in prosocial behaviour resides with the individual. The purpose of this paper is to explore the determinants and outcomes of prosocial behaviours.


A web-based self-administered survey was used to collect data from a convenience sample of largely university staff and students. Data obtained were analysed using SEM-based partial least squares methodology.


The results show that individuals who are future oriented and issue involved are more likely to engage in prosocial behaviour. Also, these individuals are more likely to assess fewer negative consequences and experience more positive feelings as a result of their prosocial behaviour.

Research limitations/implications

While the study focuses on two social issues, it does provide some explanation of self-reported behaviour, rather than intention to behave. However, future research could pay attention to a wider array of social issues and undertake post hoc testing to measure the characteristics of the chosen social issues. This may enhance findings, and provide greater support for the generalisability of the model. Also, future research could be directed towards the examining the role of perceived risk and feelings as an outcome of behaviour.

Practical implications

A better understanding of the prosocial individual can assist in designing more effective social marketing campaigns. In particular, focusing on positive feelings as a result of engaging in prosocial behaviour has practical implications.


Little attention has been given in the marketing and consumer behaviour literature to understanding the prosocial individual. To this end, this research empirically tests a model of prosocial behaviour for two social issues that integrates determinants (social responsibility, time orientation and issue involvement) and outcomes (assessment of negative consequences and feelings). Moreover, the results highlight that positive feelings are a significant outcome of prosocial behaviour.



O'Cass, A. and Griffin, D. (2015), "Eliciting positive social change: marketing’s capacity to drive prosocial behaviours", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 33 No. 5, pp. 826-843.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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