Discovering the Key to Effectiveness
The Vitae Foundation knew that to be effective it must have a solid base of research about its audience.
Primarily focusing on women facing unplanned, unwanted pregnancies, Vitae pioneered a series of landmark studies working with The Right Brain People® that resulted in a complete paradigm shift within the pro-life arena.
Shortly after Vitae’s inception, Carl Landwehr and his key advisors realized the need for fresh dialogue among those involved in the abortion debate. Vitae had already identified mass communications as the vehicle for its message, but it was at this time that Carl was introduced to Dr. Charles Kenny, a consumer psychologist who had worked with a number of Fortune 500 companies.
Dr. Kenny founded The Right Brain People® and developed a methodology to uncover the emotional motivators that drive decision-making. This innovative approach to consumer message development was instrumental in the resurgence of Harley Davidson and Chevrolet’s Corvette. Carl felt this innovative approach was lacking in traditional pro-life messaging and thus commissioned Dr. Kenny to help Vitae better understand the psychological dynamics that motivate women to feel the way they do about abortion. An additional objective was to learn how to better communicate with those who may support abortion as a solution to an unwanted pregnancy and move them to a more life-affirming position.
A Paradigm Shift Occurs
A communication strategy emerged from this initial study that resulted in a complete paradigm shift within our own pro-life arena. Gone was the often politically-charged rhetoric, absent the accusatory undertones. This new approach was women-centered and non-confrontational, while inviting audiences to think about the message. A summary of this first study, “Abortion: A Failure to Communicate,” was written by Vitae’s Northeast Project Director, Paul Swope, and was published in the April 1998 issue of First Things magazine.
Following the success of the first study, Vitae commissioned a second study focused on women who had been through an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy. In this project they interviewed women who chose abortion, those who delivered and are raising their children and women who placed their children for adoption. The goal of this project was to better understand the dynamics that shaped respondents’ final decisions about their pregnancies. A short summary of the findings, “A New Understanding of the Trauma of Abortion,” was published in the February 21, 2013 issue of American Thinker.
In the Winter 2015 issue of The Human Life Review, editor Maria Maffucci authored “Life-Saving Right Brain Research.” The article highlights the ramifications two of Vitae’s major research studies had on the pregnancy help movement and the pro-life movement by stating, “it revolutionized the way many pregnancy centers counseled clients and also how they used media to reach women at risk.” Maffucci summed up the article with these words: “The Vitae Foundation is one of many effective and varied pro-life organizations working to turn the tide after Roe, with undeniable results.”
In 2015 Vitae’s study “Saving Grace,” the focus was to delve into the mind of the Planned Parenthood client. Ultimately, this study helps Vitae build a better brand for Pregnancy Help Centers.
Vitae has commissioned seven studies with The Right Brain People® and continues to work with Dr. Kenny. Every project uncovers new findings and strengthens Vitae’s ability to save lives. Current endeavors include Vitae’s efforts to share this valuable information with Pregnancy Help Centers both across the nation and globally and with pro-life peers.