Kirk Kristofferson, Katherine White, John Peloza; The Nature of Slacktivism: How the Social Observability of an Initial Act of Token Support Affects Subsequent Prosocial Action. J Consum Res 2014; 40 (6): 1149-1166. doi: 10.1086/674137
Prior research offers competing predictions regarding whether an initial token display of support for a cause (such as wearing a ribbon, signing a petition, or joining a Facebook group) subsequently leads to increased and otherwise more meaningful contributions to the cause. The present research proposes a conceptual framework elucidating two primary motivations that underlie subsequent helping behavior: a desire to present a positive image to others and a desire to be consistent with one's own values. Importantly, the socially observable nature (public vs. private) of initial token support is identified as a key moderator that influences when and why token support does or does not lead to meaningful support for the cause. Consumers exhibit greater helping on a subsequent, more meaningful task after providing an initial private (vs. public) display of token support for a cause. Finally, the authors demonstrate how value alignment and connection to the cause moderate the observed effects.