EXPLORING THE POTENTIAL OF SHAME

The question

HMRC brought us in to work with their research and advertising agencies to explore the potential of shame to persuade people to pay their taxes.

Our approach

We used the Emotion Rotachome™ which is based on experimental psychology. We explored the nature of shame as a social emotion and how it differs from related feelings. We were able to appreciate the subtle differences in feelings and specify the most useful emotions for communications campaigns to elicit. We then explored the possibility that hard-hitting ads could create feelings of pride, vindication and a sense of freedom in those who had paid.

The answer

We produced a template for analysing advertising and media choices for effective communications that change behaviour. This resulted in HMRC being more confident to ‘name and shame’ tax evaders.