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BEE Seminar

Behavioural and Experimental Economics Seminar

Impact of NGO’s undercover videos on citizens’ emotions and pro-social behaviors


Romain Espinosa
CNRS Research fellow



Undercover videos have become a popular tool among NGOs to influence public opinion and generate engagement for the NGO’s cause. These videos are seen as a powerful and cost- effective way of bringing about social change, as they provide first-hand evidence and generate a strong emotional response among those who see them. In this paper, we empirically assess the impact of undercover videos on support for the cause. We in addition analyze whether the increased engagement among viewers is driven by the negative emotional reactions produced by the video. To do so, we design an online experiment that enables us to estimate both the total and emotion-mediated treatment effects on engagement by randomly exposing participants to an undercover video (of animal abuse) and randomly introducing a cooling-off period. Based on our pilot study (N=568), we commit to collecting N=3,200 observations, which will enable us to detect any mediated increase in donations to NGOs of 3.4 percentage points or more with a probability of at least 95%. Last, we investigate whether activists correctly anticipate their undercover videos’ (emotional) impact via a prediction study involving activists.

Practical information


Université Montpellier - Faculté d'économie
Avenue Raymond Dugrand 34960 Montpellier

Dates & time

Dec 07, 2023


Marc Willinger
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Rustam Romaniuc
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Dimitri Dubois
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