Leveraging Means – Goal Associations to Boost Children’s Water Consumption: Persuasion in a Four-School Three-Month Field Experiment

Leveraging Means – Goal Associations to Boost Children’s Water Consumption: Persuasion in a Four-School Three-Month Field Experiment

By
Szu-chi Huang, Daniella Kupor, Michal Maimaran, Andrea Weihrauch, (All authors contributed equally)
Journal of the Association for Consumer Research (forthcoming).
2019

We collaborated with UNICEF and launched a field experiment in Panamá to test the effectiveness of communicating different means–goal associations in promoting children’s consumption of water. This research is the first to examine whether interventions that operate by highlighting strong means–goal associations have real consequences outside the lab in the noisy real world. Also important, means-goal associations have previously been examined exclusively among adults. Because prior research reveals that children and adults often respond differently to persuasion attempts, important theoretical insight is gained by investigating whether children’s use of a means can be increased by interventions that highlight means–goal associations. This research is also the first to explore whether highlighting means–goal associations of different strengths can produce not only positive but also potentially negative effects. Together, the current research advances the extant understanding of the divergent impact of means–goal associations on behavior, uncovers an intervention that increases children’s consumption of water, and provides valuable managerial implications as well as food-for-thought for future research.