Devil EffectOpen Access

Devil Effect

Our perception of a single negative attribute unfairly bleeds into other unrelated areas

This dangerous tendency can tear down great ideas or people in our minds simply because they have an association with something we don’t like.

White, Goddard & Wilbur (2009). The effects of negative information transference in the celebrity endorsement relationship. Intl Journal of Retail & Distribution Mngmnt.

The study

Setup

247 people were told of an NFL player endorsing a shoe brand and shown a news item of the player being guilty of a drug deal, of the brand faking employee insurance, or a no-news control. They were then asked to rate feelings towards both celebrity and product.

Results

Products were found to suffer from worse perception after a bad celebrity act, but the celebrity was relatively untainted following a company failure.

Study graph

Key Takeaways

The Devil is everywhere...

...and not particular to just humans, but also found within places, opinions, brands or symbols. In being Fast and Slow Thinkers, we look for shortcuts as to how the world is, and who to trust.

Takeaway image

Be careful of your associations.

Think carefully about the connections you make and the potential risk of doing so. Consider the campaign by watch maker Swatch, themed around the Brexit referendum to design your own watch. Nobody wants to be reminded of painful division, especially when reduced to a quick sales opportunity.

Takeaway image

Don't let the Devil get in your way.

We’re biased against a great idea from someone we don't like or a delicious recipe recommendation from someone with differing political views. If you discredit x just because of y, try to recognize the source of the devil and accept that we can hold many conflicting views and also be of great value to one other.

Takeaway image
Takeaway image
Devil Effect

Devil Effect

Our perception of a single negative attribute unfairly bleeds into other unrelated areas

This dangerous tendency can tear down great ideas or people in our minds simply because they have an association with something we don’t like.

The study

Setup

247 people were told of an NFL player endorsing a shoe brand and shown a news item of the player being guilty of a drug deal, of the brand faking employee insurance, or a no-news control. They were then asked to rate feelings towards both celebrity and product.

Results

Products were found to suffer from worse perception after a bad celebrity act, but the celebrity was relatively untainted following a company failure.

study graph
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