Smiles, Babies, and Status Symbols: The Persuasive Effects of Image Choices in Small-Entrepreneur Crowdfunding Requests
This article examines the persuasive effects of images in the context of online peer-to-peer microfinance. The theoretical framework—based in self-presentation and impression management—relates micro-entrepreneurs’ loan-request image choices to lending decisions and lenders’ perceptions of the borrower’s trustworthiness and need. We explore effects of three specific visuals: (1) genuine enjoyment (Duchenne) smiles; (2) material status symbols; and (3) babies, children, and husbands. Using loan-request image data from 323 women micro-entrepreneurs on the Kiva.org website, results suggest smiling behavior is not associated with funding speed. However, loan-request images that include a baby are associated with significantly quicker funding, and those that include a man or an indication of relative material well-being are associated with delays in the average funding speed.