Tom Crompton: Intrinsic values DO matter to people!

Autorin: Judith Orland

Wir haben ein spannendes Gespräch mit Tom Crompton von der Common Cause Foundation geführt, in dem er über seine Arbeit berichtet und den Stellenwert von wertebasiertem Framing in der öffentlichen Kommunikation beleuchtet:

 At the Common Cause Foundation you recently conducted research to find out which set of values people hold up high. What were your findings?  

Twelve months ago we did a survey in the UK and we found out three things:

First, as we already anticipated, most people attach most importance to intrinsic values such as community, honesty, kindness, social justice and equality.

Second, we found out that the majority of people in the UK, when asked what they think matters to other people, underestimate the importance that the typical fellow citizen places on intrinsic values and overestimate the importance that others place on extrinsic values. So we tend to imagine that other people are more selfish and less compassionate than they actually are.

And third, we asked people about their recent history of civil participation, have they voted, have they volunteered, would they support a charity or a party and so on. What we found out was that the more inaccurate a person estimated the typical fellow citizen’s values, the less likely they were to engage.

This shows us that if we are able to convey to people a more accurate perception of what matters to others, than we might be able to strengthen people’s commitment to civic engagement. It’s our mission to better communicate the importance people place on intrinsic values. 


How do you convince organizations to pay attention to the way they are communicating values?

Experiments have shown that drawing people’s attention to the economic benefits reduces their wider concern for social and environmental questions. For example, if you are reminded about the money that might be saved by using car sharing instead of outlining the environmental benefits of using it, you forget about the cause that is actually much more relevant.

Another example is the extent to which, at least in the UK, many environmental organizations have chosen to highlight the economic value of biodiversity. However, a constant reminder of the economic value of biodiversity is likely to change our relationship to the cause and reduces the extent to which we are willing to take action to protect biodiversity.


What can organizations do in order not to fall into this trap?

Indeed, many communications and campaigns aimed at deepening people’s concern about social and environmental issues risk inadvertently undermining the very values upon which proportionate and lasting change will need to be built.

As a first step, I think that organizations do well in being aware of this trap. However, I know that paying attention to values will never be the only consideration that a fundraiser or a campaign manager has. Therefore, as a second step, we have developed a toolkit for charities highlighting ways in which charity communications and campaigns can engage and strengthen some values rather than others.

Even on single-issue campaigns it makes sense to think about the wider values that you are communicating. As soon as you begin to make connections between issues, you need to look at the overall value messaging and ensure that it is consistent and supportive of your cause.


At the reCampaign, we focus on campaigning in the digital age. What role does digital communication play in all this?

tom-crompton-high-resI think that the most important thing is that digital communication allows campaigners and communicators to reach far larger audiences on a more frequent basis. This tremendously increases the communication’s footprint. Therefore, it is vital to get the value message right.

Another implication is that digital communications provides new opportunities to segment audiences around demographic factors. There is a tendency to tailor messaging and to focus more specifically on what audiences might find appealing. It is of course really important to know your audience and to tailor your communication to particular audiences, but it’s also important to recognize the importance of appealing to the intrinsic values so important to most people.