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Running Head: DONT BE SO TOUCHY

Dont be so touchy: Social distance and interpersonal touch influences on charitable giving in
social movement organizations

Maggie Christ
Margaret A. Fesenmaier
Andrae S. Hash

Virginia Tech

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Abstract

Previous research into the impacts of physical touch on a persons willingness to give
time or money to another person have often considered participants that gave money for
service, spent more time in a store or agreed to taste a new food. Few studies have explored
the influence of personal touch on an individuals decision to offer their time or money to a
charitable cause. The present experiment (n = 167) investigated the role of interpersonal
touch on perceptions of social distance towards another social group and participants
willingness to offer time for a charitable cause for that social movement organization. To
evaluate perceptions of social distance participants were exposed to an advertisement for an
aid organization from either a local, domestic, or international organization. They then
responded to a social distance questionnaire, followed by the option to partake in a prosocial
behavior. Participants were not significantly more likely to perform the operationalized
prosocial behavior or perceive less social distance from the group in the video. However, the
geographic variance in stimulus materials did somewhat predict variance in perceptions in
social distance.
Keywords: Social Distance, Midas Touch, Interpersonal Touch, Social Movement
Organziation, charitable giving

DONT BE SO TOUCHY

Dont be so touchy: Social distance and interpersonal touch influences on charitable giving in
social movement organizations
Several studies have illustrated the importance of interpersonal connection and touch
between individuals. Researchers have demonstrated that touch can increase a tip left behind
for a waitress (Crusco and Wetzel, 1994), induce the participant to spend more time and
money in a store (Hornik, 1992), sample food (Smith, Gier and Willis, 1982), return lost
change and lend change for a pay phone (Kleinke, 1977), take greater financial risk (Levav and
Argo, 2010), and disclose more personal information (Nannberg and Hansen, 1994).
Often, touch cues an individual's internal feelings of love, warmth, and security (Knapp,
1978). Despite gender or culture, interpersonal touch generally has a natural command over human
interactions (Crusco & Wetzel, 1984). However, many of the interpersonal contact studies have
resulted in an end benefit for the participant (i.e. better service, a new sweater, or a date with the
researcher). This study will further investigate the effect of touch on constructs that have no
reciprocation for the participant. Thus, this study will analyze perceptions of social distance and
donation intentions towards a prosocial organization.
Non-profit or aid organizations rely on many various tactics to mobilize donations. Such
donations are often intended for groups of people that are outside the donors own social group.
This study seeks to better understand the role of social distance in donations to such organizations
and the mediating role that touch could wield on the interaction. The following paper will discuss
the theoretical foundations of interpersonal touch, social distance, and social movement
organizations, describe the experiment and its subsequent results, and discuss the implications of its
findings.

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Review of Literature
The Midas Touch
Touching another person, especially a stranger, often makes a person uncomfortable,
especially in the Western Hemisphere where there is a high value placed on personal space
(Sussman and Rosenfeld, 1978). However, touch, when performed in the right setting, is
considered a sign of friendliness and comfort to people (Fisher, Rytting, and Heslin, 1976).
With this in mind, several studies have indicated that touching a person on their arm, hand,
or shoulder briefly has positive effects on the individual. Results show that personal touch
causes the individual to generally feel more comfortable spending money, time or attention to
whoever touched them (Kleinke, 1977; Hornik, 1992; Crusco and Wetzel, 1994 and Levav and
Argo, 2010).
It is evident that there are a great many situations that interpersonal touch can make a
person more comfortable with taking chances and following directions. Gueguen, Meineri,
and Charles-Sire (2010) expanded upon this concept of touch and brought their research to
the medical field where they found that a patient who was touched briefly by his or her doctor
was more likely to comply with medical instruction and adhere to the dosage of a prescribed
medication. Touch can also foster positive relationships between supervisors and
subordinates in the workplace (Fuller et al., 2010). A similar study also showed that
participants are more likely to rate a person and environment more highly after being touched
by an employee (Fisher, Rytting, and Heslin, 1976). Patrons at a library were surveyed after
checking out their books and being touched (or not) by the librarian during the transaction.
They were then asked to evaluate their affective state, the library clerk and the library

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environment. Those who were touched ranked the librarian and the environment
significantly more favorably.
In most of these studies, the experimenter was female (Kleinke, 1977; Crusco and
Wetzel, 1994; and Nannberg and Hansen, 1994), but in others, both males and females were
used as experimenters with no dramatic effects on the outcome of the study (Fisher, Rytting,
and Heslin, 1976; Smith, Gier, and Willis, 1982 and Hornik, 1992). Similarly, the sex of the
participant does not seem to have any effect on his or her response to being touched during
the experiment. Crusco and Wetzel (1994) had first hypothesized that men would respond
negatively to a touch on the shoulder, as the gesture could seem domineering. However, this
was not the case and men responded positively to the touch when the change was returned by
the waitress, as did the women in the experiment.
Kleinke (1977) and Hornik (1987) also tested to see how gaze and eye contact influenced
the participants willingness to comply with the request of the experimenter. In both studies
gaze had an approximately equal influence as touching the participant. However, eye contact
did not have a significant influence on the outcome of the participants cooperation.
Researchers have been studying the effects of human touch on behavior for many
years. However, some areas are left for further exploration. In most direct-contact studies,
the subject was able to gain something for him or herself: more money, better service, and
goods while shopping. However, there is little research in the area of someone offering time
or money for another person or group of people. In Kleinkes (1977) second experiment, the
participant was asked for a dime by the experimenter to use the phone. In one condition, the
participant was touched lightly on the arm during the interaction while in the other condition
there was no human contact. While the donation of a dime to the experimenter would be

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considered charitable, it is much less of a loss to the participant. This study plans to
investigate the willingness of participants to make a charitable donation of a higher cost.
The present experiment will test to see if touch affects the likelihood of a person
offering their time to a charitable cause from which they will gain nothing back in return.
Participants will not be paid, and they will not be risking or spending their own money. As
discovered by Hornik (1992), the use of touch to greet store customers can also be used by
politicians, salespeople, service delivery people and interviewers. We believe this will also
benefit charitable organizations and their employees to recruit more volunteers and
donations.
Social Distance
This study also investigated the interpersonal interaction effect on the social distance
felt by an individual towards a member of another social group. Social distance can be
defined as the degree of reciprocity that subjects believe exist within a social interaction
(Hoffman, McCabe, &Smith, 1996, p. 654). Initially, Bogardus (1925) measured respondents
favorable responses toward various ethnic groups and foreign populations. The research
established a generally accepted cumulative scale that measures the emotional reactions of an
individual to a member of another group. Generally the emotional responses are considered
the sympathy that an individual can feel for a member of another person or group of people
(Bogardus, 1933). When social distance between communities exists, ideas regarding the
other culture will be presented as more abstract, schematic and not contextualized by their
respective members (Nan, 2007).
Perceptions of social distance are more than the direct relation between physical
distance and the lack of affective content (Karakayali, 2009). As found by previous research,
individuals recognize various in-group and out-groups differently regardless of geography (i.e.

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an individual with Schizophrenia is regarded as an other despite having the same regional
background). Out-groups are generally perceived as more homogenous (Jones, Wood &
Quattrone, 1981) and described more abstractly by participants (Fiedler et al., 1995). In
general, individuals ascribe characteristics to entire other populations rather than
distinguishing differences amongst the group.
In 1965 Milgram found that research participants were more likely to administer
higher-level shocks to other participants when the recipient was physically further away. The
physical distance separating the two participants made it easier for the individual
administering a shock to feel disconnected from the punishment they executed. Due to the
difficulty of analyzing and detecting feelings of social distance, the proximity a participant is
to the given group has been found to be a valid indicator of perceived social distance (Bradner
& Mark, 2002; Fujita et al., 2006). These ideas have naturally been applied to cultures
separated by geography, but also those cultures or groups separated by heritage (e.g. Tasci,
2009).
Recently, widespread reach of globalized media has begun to degrade typical
perceptions of social distance, particularly geographic separations. Media that has been
bound by transmission limits can now be broadcast to new cultures and regions of the world.
Tasci (2009) found that participants who gained familiarity with a foreign culture through a
visual medium- i.e. movies- decreased perceive social distance of individuals that make up the
foreign culture. Hoffner and Cohen later (2012) surveyed regular viewers of the television
show Monk. Participants voluntarily completed an online survey posted to a fan-page of the
show. The lead character of the series solves crime while managing his severe obsessivecompulsive disorder. Viewers had weakened stereotypes for individuals with obsessive-

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compulsive disorder and desired less social distance from people that have that particular
disorder.
According to Matei and Ball-Rokeach (2002) the Internet can also be considered a
cultural device used to achieve social and cultural goals (p. 408). Virtual worlds created on
the Internet make socializing with individuals from geographically distant locations much
more accessible (Fiedler, Haruvy, & Li, 2011) and theoretically easier to constrict gaps in
societal connections. Growing advances in new media are condensing perceptions of global
social distance. For example, Charness, Haruvy, & Sonsino (2007) hypothesized that otherregarding behavior would be greater depending on social proximity. However, after
manipulating social distance via the Internet, the study found individuals do have affinity for
others perceived to be geographically different, even when these others are distant and
disembodied strangers (p. 100).
Perceptions of social distance are still felt between individuals of different regional
groups. However, the relationship between social distance and individuals that receive
interpersonal tough have yet to be tested. Based on the above literature on interpersonal
touch and social distance this study seeks to understand the following questions:
RQ1: Does receiving a direct personal touch from another individual influence
perceptions of social distance with another social group?

RQ2: For participants of the study, does viewing stimulus materials that displays
people in need from different social groups elicit a significantly different amount of
perceived social distance?
Social Movement Organizations and Giving

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Finally, the current research seeks to further examine resource mobilization theories in
the context of interpersonal touch, social distance and charitable giving. This study will
explore these topics as they pertain to social movement organizations (SMO). SMOs are
chosen as a unit of analysis because of their philanthropic agenda and their unique principles
in organizing.
Generally, social movement organizations can be described as the organized
component of a social movement (Stewart et al., 2012). Many times social movements are
comprised of a multiplicity of SMOs surrounding an issue area or cause. SMOs are distinct
from social movements because they are highly organized from the top down (Stewart et al,
2012). It is important to be aware of the heterogeneity of organizational forms within the field
of SMOs (Porta & Diani, 2006).
For the purpose of the present research, this study will focus on professional social
movement organizations. Professional SMOs are characterized by full-time leadership,
minimal membership, representation to a constituency, and influencing policy toward that
same constituency (McCarthy & Zald, 1987). Because full time leaders are often committed as
staff members of an organization, many of the organizations resources originate outside of
the aggrieved group (constituency). At the same time, SMOs also rely upon resources granted
from its constituency.
Professional SMOs often promote their interest to a conscience constituency whom
are not members of the organization, but support its causes or ideologies (Porta & Diani,
2006). An example of one of the most popular and credible professional SMO promoting its
interests to a conscience constituency is the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross is a
professional SMO that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief and education inside the
United States (American Red Cross, 2013). This organization utilizes support from donors and

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volunteers, not official members, in order to accomplish its goals. This support from donors
and volunteers is a form of mobilizing resources.
A vital component in promoting interests among both members and constituents is a
concept known as resource mobilization. Resource mobilization involves a movements ability
to acquire resources and to mobilize members toward collective action (McCarthy, 1977). The
SMOs must mobilize resources from the surrounding environment, whether directly in the
form of money or through voluntary work by their adherents. Without a strong mobilization
effort the SMO becomes a null organization (Carmin, 2002).
In relation to observing social distance, the authors of the current study will test the
effects of Midas touch theory on participants willingness to become conscience constituents
and give resources (time or money) to a social movement organization.
H1: Participants that have received a direct personal touch from the researcher will
donate more time to help the non-profit organization than those participants that did
not receive a direct personal touch from the researcher.
As a learning tool to mobilize participants to raise rice to fight world hunger
(Freerice.com, 2013), Freerice.com will be utilized in tandem with this studys questionnaire in
order to measure participants pro-social behavior.
H2: Participants that have received a direct personal touch from the researcher will
play freerice.com for an overall longer time period than those participants that have
not been touched by the researcher.

H3: Participants that have received a direct personal touch from the researcher will
earn more grains of rice while playing freerice.com than those participants that have
not received a direct personal touch from the researcher.

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Method

This experiment followed a 3 (geographic distance: local, national, or foreign) x 2


(interpersonal touch: touch or no touch) design with both factors varied between subjects. A
between subjects design was used to test the effects social distance and interpersonal touch
may have on an individuals intention to give or participate in a social movement.
Sample
Approximately 200 undergraduate students were recruited from a communication
research participant pool at a large, public southeastern university. Participants were given
course credit for completing the study and signed an informed consent document before
participating in the experiment.
Procedure
To test the above hypothesis and research questions, each participant was shown an
edited advertisement for an organization that provides aid to the homeless and hungry. The
videos represented an organization that donates aid local citizens, an organization that aids
various Americans across the country, and an organization that provides foreign aid. Upon
signing the informed consent document all participants watched an edited video
advertisement for one of the described organizations on a large screen at the front of the
room. All participants were seated within ten feet of the projection screen to ensure that
visibility was not a problem. Following exposure to the video, participants completed the first
electronic questionnaire, which inquired about demographic information. In the touch
condition, the experimenter administered a light open-palmed touch to the back of the
shoulder blade while participants completed the first questionnaire. Those participants in the
no touch condition received verbal attention from the experimenter, but without touch.
Conditions were be assigned using a random number generator. Following the manipulation

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all participants completed a social distance questionnaire. Once participants have completed
the questionnaires, they were instructed to play a trivia game at www.freerice.com and that
they could quit at any time. Participants self-reported the number of grains of rice won and
levels achieved and the length of time each participant played was recorded by the computer.
Finally, before leaving participants were told that a deal was made with the
organization whose advertisement they viewed. In order to use the video the researchers
agreed to ask for volunteers to help staff a table at the student union where individuals can
donate canned food. If participants are willing to help they were given a calendar and asked
to mark availability and how many hours they would be willing to work. Once the participant
has finished the final questionnaire they will be thanked for their time and debriefed.
Stimulus Materials
Aid Organization Videos. As past research has shown that geographic distance has been
shown to influence perceptions of social distance (Koleser, 2009) this study participants will
view one advertisement from an aid organization. A video was chosen that served either the
local population, any citizen of The United States, or donated aid globally. The stimuli
adapted for each of the distance conditions contained an organic advertisement for a hungerrelief organization. Aid organizations with similar mission statements and advertisement
strategies were chosen, however each video varied the population the organization served.
Each advertisement featured a homeless individual that lacked proper nutrition. All
advertisements used a similar persuasion technique and explain the life of the individual. The
scope of each organization will vary.
Independent Variables
Geographic social distance. Participants were randomly exposed to one of three video
conditions that manipulated geographic social distance described above. Each video

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portrayed individuals from increasing geographic distance to the participants current


location.
Interpersonal touch. Participants were randomly assigned to either receive instructions
along with a slight interpersonal touch or instructions without a touch. See Figure 1.1 for
display of touch.
Figure 1.1: Interpersonal Touch Conducted by Researchers

Dependent Measures
Perceived social distance. Social distance was operationalized through three
discrete scale or indexed items. A seven-item scale adapted from Bennett, Thirlaway, &
Murray (2008) was used to create a Social Distance measure. This scale was chosen for its
flexible nature and adaptability to the situation, and was adapted for each of the video stimuli.
Participants ranked each statement (e.g. I would feel uncomfortable inviting the individual
mentioned in the video along to a friends party) using a 7-point Likert-type scale (1 =
strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree) (Cronbachs = .410).

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Participants also responded to a six-item Social Distance scale adapted from Thyne and
Zins (2004). This scale incorporated modern situations that respondents may have had with
the given population, rather than merely hypothetical interactions. Participants ranked each
statement (e.g. I would enjoy seeing [the person from the targeted population] at a coffee
shop) on a 7-point Likert-type scale (1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree)
(Cronbachs = .832).
Finally, participants also reported feelings and perceptions on a Social Distance Index
adapted from Bogardus (1933) and used the updated language implemented by Koleser
(2009). Participants marked any statement with which they agree (i.e. I would have the
person in the video over for dinner)(Cronbachs = .164). The total score was cumulated for
a ranking of social distance. A cumulative score for each scale was indexed for data analysis.
Prosocial behavioral intention. The researchers informed the participants of the
deal they have made with each of the conditions organizations. Each participant was asked
if they would be willing to donate money or time to the organization. Responses were
reported on a 7-point scale (1 = not at all willing to 7 = very willing). If the participant is
willing to donate time, they will be asked how many hours they would like to work and to
mark their time availability on a calendar for one month following the experiment.
Prosocial behavior. Prosocial behavior was measured by asking participants to play
a trivia game that donated food to an aid organization. All participants were directed to the
website www.freerice.com which provides food aid through the United Nations World Food
Program. Patel (2011) found length of game play at freerice.com to be an accurate measure of
prosocial behavior. Freerice.com asked players to answer common trivia questions. For each
correct answer the organization donates ten grains of rice and five grains for an incorrect
answer. Participants will be instructed to play the game for as long as they would like and

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their time spent on the website will be tracked. They will also be asked to self-report how
many grains of rice they accumulated and at which level they ended.
Results
Given the characteristics of the data a series of ANOVA tests were used to analyze the
relationships specified by each of the hypotheses and research questions.
Touch on prosocial behavior
This study utilized various measures of prosocial behavior. Participants were asked to
volunteer time to a local hunger-aid organization. They were also asked to play the game
freerice.com, which donates international aid. The amounts of time each participant the
game, the levels they earned, and the number of grains they earned were operationalized as
prosocial behavior.
Volunteer. Hypothesis one posited that those participants that received an
interpersonal touch from the researcher would be significantly more likely to volunteer for the
fictional canned-food drive than those participants that did not receive an inter-personal
touch. A chi-square goodness-of-fit was performed to determine whether the those
participants that received a touch were more likely to volunteer for the aid organization than
those that not receive a touch, X2 (1, N = 169) = .255, p > .614.
Length of game play. The second hypothesis suggested that participants that
received an inter-personal touch would play the online game freerice.com significantly longer
than those participants that did not play the game. A one-way ANOVA was run for the length
of game-play by participants that received a touch (M = 161.738, SD = 163.825) and those
participants that did not receive an interpersonal touch by the researcher (M = 68.501, SD =
1215.907), F(2, 167) = .485, p > .487. H2 was rejected.

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Amount of rice earned. The third hypothesis suggested that those participants that
received an interpersonal touch would earn significantly more grains of rice on the online
game than participants that did not receive a touch. A one-way ANOVA of the number of
grains of rice was run for participants that received an interpersonal touch (M = 349.260, SD
= 313.176) and participants that did not receive an interpersonal touch (M = 371.875, SD =
302.279), F(1, 156) = .212, p > .646. H3 was rejected.
Levels earned in game. Finally, the fourth hypothesis suggested that those
participants that received an interpersonal touch from the research would earn significantly
more levels in the online game. A one-way ANOVA was run for levels earned in the game for
participants that received an interpersonal touch (M = 10.598, SD = ) and those participants
that did not received an interpersonal touch (M = 11.964, SD = ), F(1, 164) = 1.316, p > .253.
H4 was rejected.
However, though not originally a hypothesis of the study, an ANOVA test was by levels
of manipulated geographic distance- Local (M = 12.810, SD = 9.006), National (M = 11.926,
SD = 6.428), and (M = 9.019, SD = 6.850)- and perceptions of social distance, F(2,165) =
3.808, p >.024. There was a significant difference between the stimulus materials and the
levels participants earned in the game.
Touch on perceptions of social distance
The first research question asked if participants received an interpersonal touch would
have an attenuated feeling of perceived social distance. An ANOVA test was run for
participants that received an interpersonal touch (M = 5.069, SD = .045) and those
participants that did not receive an interpersonal touch (M = 5.111, SD = .902), F(1, 165) = .
086, p > .7676. See Figure 2.1.
Geographic perceptions of social distance

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The final research questions, RQ 2, inquired into participants perceptions of social


distance following the stimulus materials. A one-way ANOVA was run for participants in the
local condition (M = 5.379, SD = .855), domestic condition (M = 4.878, SD = .839), and
international condition (M = 4.997, SD = 1.007) and their perceptions of social distance, F(2,
165) = 4.827, p > .009.
Figure 2.1. Geographic Perceptions of Social Distance

5.4
5.3
5.2
5.1
5

Local

Domestic

International

4.9
4.8
4.7
4.6
Social Distance

Discussion
The primary purpose of this study was to further understand the effects of
interpersonal touch on perceptions social distance and the intention to perform prosocial
behavior. Based on a chi-square and some ANOVA tests for each scale, the experimental
results did not generate significant results for the effects of touch on perceptions of social
distance or prosocial behavior. Predictably, the study reported that the geographically
manipulated stimulus material significantly altered perceptions of social distance of the
respondents.

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As previously mentioned, the theoretical foundations for such research has already
been established. However few researchers have advanced in the broad range of interpersonal
touch on social distance and particularly in the field of interpersonal touch on an individuals
intention to aid another individual or group of people. The findings of this study elaborate
further on precedential literature.
These particular findings refute the overwhelming effects of interpersonal touch in an
individuals behavior. Participants in this study that received an interpersonal touch were not
significantly more likely to partake in the operationalized prosocial behavior. Past studies
have shown that individuals tend to be malleable to the researchers request following an
interpersonal touch. However, on most occasions the requests have had a subsequent benefit
for the study participant (i.e. tipping more for better service). In this study the participants
had no gain other than altruistic behavior incurred from helping another individual. The
connection often associated with interpersonal touch had no significant effect on participants.
There was not a transfer of warmth from the touch to the need to help other individuals.
The interpersonal warmth cultivated from interpersonal touch also had minimal effect
on perceptions of social distance felt by study participants. Though the study had limitations,
the results imply that the traditional connections established through interpersonal touch are
not transferred from researcher to participant to an out-group. This may also be the case
because unlike many previous studies a member of the out-group was not present. In Crusco
and Wetzel (1994), participants were tipping a person with which they had direct contact. In
the present study the individuals receiving the donations were socially and geographically
removed. This removal of direct contact with an out-group was the main aim of this study,
but also seemed to nullify the transfer effects of touch from the research to participants.

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Though participants level of comfort did not differ dependent on interpersonal touch,
it did alter based on geographic region of the individuals in the advertisement. Regardless of
interpersonal touch, those participants that viewed the advertisement for the local aid
organization were significantly more likely to perceive less social distance between themselves
and the individuals in the aid advertisement. Interestingly, participants perceived less social
distance between themselves and the individuals in the international advertisement than
those individuals in the domestic advertisement. Such unique results require further
research. There has been little empirical investigation into such disparate feelings of social
distance.
This study has also added some clarification on measures used to identify social
distance. Thyne and Zins (2004) updated the situational reality in a social distance scale.
These measures were more reliable in this study than of the other social distance constructs
historically utilized. The reasoning for their reliability may be that they foster a greater
realism with the participant, as we are more likely to sit beside a homeless or hungry person
in a coffee shop or on a bus than work with or marry them. It is also possible that the updated
questions illicit less social desirability. Bogardus (1925) and other scales were established in
the midst of prejudices that were socially acceptable. Now, however, participants understand
the underlying racism, sexism, etc. Perhaps more suggestive questions more accurately
describe the participants perceptions.
Limitations and future research
A key limitation in this study is our stimulus materials. While it was convenient to use
videos that already existed, it limited the material we had available. In the video that
represented our local organization, Oxfam Virginia Tech, college-aged students were the only

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ones seen in the video. In contrast, the other two videos featured only children. An adult male
voice narrated parts of each video but adults were not even seen in the visual.
A second limitation with the videos was the tones of each message. Oxfam Virginia
Tech, the local video, stated important, startling facts about hunger and poverty with a direct
call to action. This served as a guilt appeal to push people to act. The One Day advertisement
showed kids running, playing, eating, and describing their dreams for their futures. This
video, while expressing the great need for food for the kids, also illustrated a vision of hope
and possibility for the kids, rather than using guilt or scare tactics. The third video, Feeding
America, used children as well but the children were not excited about their futures. Instead
they were shown sitting around while other kids played outside. They talked about wanting to
be in school where there was food. The kids were not smiling or talking excitedly.
For future research, it may be best to pretest the advertisements for meaningful or
emotional tones. To get the best results and accurate reactions to the advertisements it would
be better to have each video portray the same tone and use children of a similar age.
Third, during the experiment, only female researchers were allowed to touch the
participants in the touch condition. In several of the studies cited above, the experimenters
were only female (Kleinke, 1977; Crusco and Wetzel, 1994; and Nannberg and Hansen, 1994).
However, some studies did use both males and females as experimenters in the touch
condition with little significant results that varied from other experiments (Fisher, Rytting,
and Heslin, 1976; Smith, Gier, and Willis, 1982 and Hornik, 1992). In future studies, this
experiment could be done with a male experimenter.
The fourth limitation was the social distance scales used in this study. Three different scales
were used to measure the social distance participants felt towards the people in the videos.
However, mostly children were featured in the videos and the scales provided no measures for

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children. For example, in Bennett, Thurlaway, & Murray (2008) one of the measures was I
would feel uncomfortable inviting the individual mentioned in video along to a friends party.
However, the likelihood of a college-aged student inviting a young child to a party regardless
of perceived social distance is slim. Another example in the same scale is I would never marry
a person with these problems. Again, this may have caused a conflict for the participant since
he or she would know it is improper to marry a child of this age to begin with and that
decision has little to do with social distance. For future studies, it would be important to
develop a measure that would account for this type of age difference.

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