Mercy For Animals almost always ends its viral videos with an on-screen call to action that encourages viewers to change their diets. Many viral videos from other groups do the same. But which call to action is best at inspiring changes in individual diets and attitudes?
In this study, we tested three different calls to action that appeared at the end of pro-vegetarian viral videos. We selected 12 videos created by Mercy For Animals and created four versions of each video. One version had no call to action and the other three versions each had one of the following messages at the end:
- Please leave animals off of your plate
- Please cut out or cut back on animal products
- Please choose vegan
Each video was between 40 and 90 seconds in length. Logos for Mercy For Animals or for MFA’s ChooseVeg.com website were removed from the videos prior to testing.
In total, we created 48 different videos (12 videos x 4 versions = 48). We recruited 2,059 participants from Amazon Mechanical Turk for our two-wave survey. Participants were randomly assigned to watch one of the 48 videos. After watching their respective videos, participants were asked to rate the extent to which they felt happy, sad, interested, inspired, angry, guilty, and disgusted. A day later, we sent participants a second survey that measured their intention to reduce their meat consumption, their attitudes toward farmed animals and meatless meals, and their interest in a free Vegetarian Starter Guide.
This study was part of another study that measured the impact of different types of videos on attitudes and intention to change diet (see here). In the analysis for that study, we compared various pro-vegetarian videos to a control video on another topic. However, for this study, we removed the control video so that we were only analyzing calls to action at the end of pro-vegetarian videos.
Intention to Reduce Meat Consumption
Participants who were exposed to all three calls to action were slightly more likely to report that they would reduce their meat consumption than participants who saw no call to action, although the differences were not statistically significant. Also, the three calls to action did not produce significantly different results.
Vegetarian Starter Guide Requests
There were no statistically significant differences among the groups with regard to how likely participants were to want a Vegetarian Starter Guide.
We also measured six attitudes that correlate or likely correlate with reduced meat consumption:
- Pigs, cows, and chickens are smart and intelligent just like dogs and cats
- The food that I eat contributes to animal suffering
- Meals without red meat or chicken are delicious
- Eating meals without red meat or chicken is easy
- Cows, pigs, and chickens have rich emotional lives just like dogs and cats
- Cows, pigs, and chickens have the ability to suffer and feel pain
Looking at an average of our measurements of the six attitudes, we found no statistically significant differences in effect on attitudes among the different calls to action.
We averaged the three outcomes—intention to reduce meat consumption, Vegetarian Starter Guide requests, and attitudes—to get a sense of the overall effectiveness of calls to action in changing minds about farmed animals. We estimated a combined average through four different methods and each method produced similar results. See the Additional Resources section to learn more about how we estimated the combined average.
Overall, there were no statistically significant differences among the three call to action groups and the group with no call to action. “Please leave animals off your plate” and “Please cut out or cut back on animals products” had similar and larger effect sizes, but as noted, the differences were not statistically significant.
The results of this study indicate that there could be differences in effectiveness among various calls to action at the ends of pro-vegetarian viral videos; however, this study was not powered to detect such small effect sizes. “Please leave animals off your plate” and “Please cut out or cut back on animal products” had slightly larger effects than no call to action and “Please choose vegan,” but the differences in effect sizes were so small that we can’t be certain.
Of course, this study suffers from the perennial concerns of social desirability bias and self-reported measures, but it’s a useful starting point for understanding the effect of the call to action at the end of a video on attitudes toward farmed animals.
To learn about the effect of video type on attitudes toward farmed animals and intention to reduce meat consumption, please read our separate write-up here.