This research investigated whether it is possible for charity advertising campaigns to stimulate donations successfully as well as to represent people with disabilities as valued human beings. Thirty-eight subjects were required to rank 10 MENCAP posters along 15 bipolar constructs using a variation of the Q sort procedure. Constructs included feelings such as pity, guilt and sympathy, constructive helping behaviours such as giving money and time, and perceptions such as having rights, value and capabilities.

Correlational, cluster and factor analyses suggest that images which elicit the greatest commitment to give money are those most closely associated with feelings of guilt, sympathy and pity and are negatively associated with posters which illustrate people with a mental handicap as having the same rights, value and capability as non-handicapped persons. The implications of these findings with regard to advertising and the principle of normalization (social role valorization) are discussed.