Persuasion and Influence

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Persuasion and Influence (ps359) and Thomas Hills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

When You Buy Starbucks, You Buy Fairtrade

By Katie Lawton, Louise Lee & Paul O'Connor

Buying Time

I often find myself in a situation where I love something my sister owns. Moreover, that item is usually not available in stores because they’ve sold out or the sister has brought it from abroad. So I would often do anything to get the item (yes, I fall for the scarcity effect more frequently than I would like to admit). Last time I fell in love, it was a fabulous purple purse.

First of all, I did my research in order to find out my best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA). It turned out that the only option was to get the purse from my sister. I had to know how my sister valued the purse (her BATNA), so I started asking her questions about it (e.g., if she got bored of it; if she would like a new purse, etc.). My sister still liked her purse and wasn’t planning on placing it at my disposal.

Not only I had to negotiate the price, but I also had to make her sell the item she didn’t want to in the first place. I was honest with her and said that I was willing to buy the purse. She said no. I was ready to pay the full price, so I offered the money. She wouldn’t agree. However, I was patient and decided to wait for a while. I though that maybe she’d change her mind; maybe she’d see a new, more appealing purse while shopping; maybe she’d be in better mood next time I talk to her; but most importantly - maybe she’d need something from me.

Lewicki, Saunders, and Minton (2000) found that negotiation under time pressure involves distributive behaviour such as placing demands and making concessions. Because I was in a worse position than my sister, I could have offered her more money or started blackmailing her into agreement, which no one wants in a good negotiation. Moreover, it’s hard to make efficient judgments and decisions under time pressure, because we sacrifice the accuracy and quality of such agreements (Carnevale & Pruitt, 1992; Carroll & Payne, 1991). If I had pressured my sister, she could have possibly agreed. However, it doesn’t mean that she would have been satisfied with the deal. She is my sister, so I didn’t want to risk our relationship. Finally, ‘buying time’ is a negotiation tactic usually seen as a way to strengthen ones position and to be better able to do well personally (Lewicki et al., 2000).

So next time I approached my sister ready to talk about the purse again, she was happy about her test result. She also had a lot of homework waiting, and on top of that, she had a fish tank to clean, which she had been supposed to do two weeks ago. I offered her half the money I suggested the first time, my help with the homework and fish tank, and we finally had a deal.

I ask for what I want. I don’t take “no” for an answer. I’m persistent and patient. I’m sometimes ready to sweeten the pot and I always take time to acknowledge a good deal, and thank my sister. That’s how I negotiate to get what I want and also to please my sister so she doesn’t feel deceived.


Carnevale, P. J. D., &Pruitt, D. G. (1992). Negotiation and mediation. Annual Review of Psychology, 43, 531–582.

Carroll, J. S., & Payne, J. W. (1991). An information processing approach to two-party negotiation. Research on Negotiation in Organizations, 3, 3–34

Lewicki, R. J., Saunders, J. W., & Minton, J. W. (2000). Negotiation. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.

Justina Pakulnyte (5th Blog)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Happiness is the Truth: Pharrel Williams Interview on Oprah

For a second, turn off the cynicism.  What makes this so persuasive?  I suppose it's a lot of things, but it's at least value creation, more than a zero-sum game, and genuine reciprocity.

Monday, April 14, 2014

If I were a manager…

Although I’m planning to pursue career in counselling and psychotherapy, we’ve seen many potential teachers and therapists come forward telling all about how they’d use Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) in their future careers. So I’d like to look at this task from a different angle and write about how I would use ABA if I were the manager at the restaurant I currently work for… as a waitress/barmaid.

I’ve been working there since last December. The staff has been e-mailed by the managers complaining about people not turning up for their shifts, being late, swapping the shifts with other staff members without noticing the managers, cancelling their shifts or calling in sick later than managers could arrange the swap. We’ve received the e-mails three or four times this year already. And I can guess where the problem lies. It’s not because the staff members are irresponsible employees per se. In fact, they don’t really like the job, that’s they sometimes choose not to turn up for their shifts. It has been shown that negative attitude towards one’s job is associated with increased absence from work (Barsade & Gibson, 2007). So how I could increase the employees’ satisfaction and decrease absenteeism using ABA?

The target behaviour is to make my employees turn up for their shifts. Let’s say I don’t want to change anything related to scheduling or provide free food/drinks because it would increase the expenses. What else can I do? First of all, we have to record the rates of absence from work for each employee. Then I would use positive reinforcement. I would reward them for attending their shifts by promising a prize draw at the end of the month for those whose attendance was perfect. Finally, I would have to monitor the behaviour in order to see if the intervention works. Wallin and Johnson (1976) found that a lottery based work attendance reward system could be a powerful supplement to an organization’s compensation system. 

Employee absenteeism has an adverse impact on production costs, sick pay benefits my cost a lot, so using a program under which employees can qualify for a monthly drawing providing they had perfect attendance and punctuality record for the month, can reduce employee absenteeism and its accompanying costs.


Barsade, S. & Gibson, D. (2007). Why does affect matter in organizations? Academy of Management Perspectives, 21, 36-59

Wallin, J. A., & Johnson, R. D. (1976). The positive reinforcement approach to controlling employee absenteeism. Personnel Journal, 55, 390-392.

Justina Pakulnyte (4th Blog) 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Negotiating with children...have you got what it takes?

Getting the children at work to do their Maths and English courses can be a real struggle when they have 3 bags of haribo and what feels like a million blue smarties. However after doing this course about persuasion I have come to realise that I myself use so many of these techniques! So, instead of looking at a negotiation technique from a movie, I am going to use one of my really successful negotiation techniques that persuades these little terrors to do their work!

So here it goes...
Grace: Can you please go and get your folder from the tray so you can do your phonics work?
Child: No...I hate phonics!
Grace: Can you please go get your folder?
Child: go get it!
Grace: Okay but I bet I can find it before you can!
**both run over to tray and child desperately tries to find folder first whilst I stand there pretending**
Child: I GOT IT, I GOT IT!
Grace: Ohhhh no! But I bet I can race you back to your chair and get your work up before you can!
**child runs off desperately to beat me**
Grace: Well done your soooo quick! I couldn’t keep up with you! Now lets do some of your work.
Child: No I don't want to do it.
Grace: Okay...seeing as you are so good at races I want to see if you can race my egg timer and see if you can get these questions done before it runs out! If you can do this I will let you move up an extra space today!
**child shoves their headphones on and is trying to get going as soon as they can**

The consistency used in this attempt to get a child to do their work is one of the key things that I used. I have found something that the child has enjoyed (in this circumstance racing) and have used this as a fun way to encourage him to work hard. With the child agreeing to race me to get his folder, he has then unknowingly set up the consistency for him to then race to get back to his chair, turn on his work, and get him to do a large section of his work. `This foot in the door technique within consistency has been extremely successful in getting people to comply after making a small commitment, and then gradually making larger requests such as with getting people to eventually put signs up on their lawn (Freedman & Fraser, 1966).  

Throughout the whole of this exchange the child and I were giggling away as we were competing through millions of folders in the tray to find his. Also he thought that it was hilarious that I was willing to run across the centre like a lunatic to beat him! Humor is one of the most important negotiation techniques that I use with the children to encourage them to do their work (that and the fact that you get voted their best tutor compared to the other tutors that play the ‘I’m going to tell mummy’ card!). Humor has been shown in the past to increase positive affect towards advertised products (Geuens & Pelsmacker, 2002), suggesting that the same can be done here to get the child to view their work more positively.

Not only is it the use of humour that gets the child to co-operate with my negotiation requests. The use of compliments is yet another technique applied in this situation that has encouraged the child to keep doing his work. By praising the child each time he wins the race against me, the more the child enjoys the competition, and wants to race again to hear more positive praise and get more rewards from you! This is extremely successful, and Drachman, deCarufel, & Insko, (1978) has shown its success’ with its ability to improve a person’s ratings of being liked.

The use of making myself silly enough to run around the centre, allowed the technique of similarity to be used in order to get the child to comply with my demands. I was able to give me and the child a similar role, as opposed to my normal authoritative role as the tutor, which then encouraged the child to do his work in a fun and enjoyable way. This in the past has been shown to be an extremely successful technique as humor has been shown to increase the audiences liking of a product through mere association (Madelijn, Baaren, Holland & Knippenberg, 2009), and therefore the use of humor in this situation will encourage the children to associate enjoyment with doing there work.

Drachman, D., deCarufel, A., & Insko, C. (1978). The extra-credit effect in interpersonal attraction. Journal of experimental social psychology, 14, 458-467.

Freedman, J., & Fraser, S. (1966). Compliance without pressure: The foot-in-the-door technique. Journal of personality and social psychology, 4, 196-202.

Geuens, M., &  De Pelsmacker, P. (2002). The role of humor in the Persuasion of individuals varying in need for cognition. Advances in Consumer Research, 29, 51-55.

Madelijn, S., Van Baaren, R., Holland, R., & Van Knippenberg, A. (2009). Humor in advertisements enhances product liking by mere association. Journal of experimental psychology, 15, 35-45.

Grace Pattison. Blog 5.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street

In a negotiation situation, one party tries to make the other party comply to him/her and get the most benefit out of the situation. 

In this movie scene, Jordan Belfort is a young but sophisticated stockbroker trying to sell penny stocks to his client. All other staff in the firm was shocked by the fact that he sold 40000 shares to a client in one go. We can see that he used some very useful negotiating tactics which would make people comply to you in an intercourse. 

The two main tactics he used were consistency and scarcity.

At the beginning, he mentioned that John himself asked for ‘a stock which has huge upside potential but very little downside risks’. Which set a consistent theme for their conversation afterwards. In psychology, consistency is a useful tool in compliance. Know and Inkster (1968) did and experiment and found that punters at racetrack are more confident that their horse will win immediately after placing a bet than just before placing the bet. This theory implies that people are more likely to act in ways that are consistent with earlier choices they made. In this case, John, the client asked for the recommendation earlier and therefore more likely to comply to the selling later on. 

Belfort also uses clients that the stock he is introducing now is the best he ever seen in the last six months. Which created an impression that this stock is a good one to miss. The weapon of sacristy role has been commonly used in selling and negotiations. 
 Brehm and Weintraub did a study on two groups of two-year old boys. One group of them saw two equally attractive toys separated by a piece of glass that they could reach over, the other group saw the toy separated by a larger piece of glass that would obstruct their attempts. The result showed that boys in the first group showed no special preference while the second group got to the restricted toy three times faster than those in group 1. 

Having these negotiation skills in his pocket, no wonder Jordan Belfort became one of the most famous motivational speaker and stockbroker in the America!


Brehm, S. S. & Weintraub, M. (1977). Physical barriers and psychological reactance: Two-year-old’s response to threats of freedom. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 830-836. 

Pratkanis, A. R. (Ed.). (2007). Social influence analysis: An index of tactics. The Science of Social Influence: Advances and future progress. New York: Psychology Press

Blog 5
By Regina Yeung (1123162)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Best negotiation!

We have learned that good negotiator has to 1) Be patient and honest 2) Know alternatives including BATNA (Best alternative to a negotiated agreement) 3) Find what other party wants 4) Know other parties BATNA 5) Do the research 6) Give and expect reasons for offers 7) Not be scared to ask 8) Know how to use social persuasion techniques 9) Keep emotions controlled 10) Leave opportunities to back down.

To look at how all those different factors influence negotiation I have chosen a scene from FRIENDS to analyse.

Little prehistory: Chandler was going out with Rachel’s boss. Rachel asked him to break up with her, as it became complicated and could cause her loosing the job. Chandler did not break up with the woman and ended up half naked in the office handcuffed to the chair while she was gone. He asks Rachel to let him go but she is angry with him for not keeping the promise and not breaking up with her boss.

So, what do we have .. Chandler starts conversation with the complement, which is known to be a reliable compliance technique (Grant, Fabrigar & Lim, 2010). That was a sneaky step as it is always nice to hear good staff about yourself. In this case this does not work that well, as Rachel is angry with Chandler for not breaking up with her boss. His next step is making her feel bad for him, saying that he is alone and cold, and her boss could have left for hours. He is trying to use guilt as it was found to have various relationship-enhancing functions. According to Baumeister, Stillwell and Heatherton (1994) guilt is motivating people to treat partners well, minimizing inequities and enabling less powerful partners to get their way. Rachel agrees to let him go, if he promises to break up with the boss lady and never see her again. She basically uses ‘trading’, she asks for something in the exchange for his freedom. One can argue that this is a reciprocity technique but in a more aggressive way. By accepting freedom Chandler will feel obliged to do whatever Rachel asks him.

Rachel than realizes that if her boss finds out that she let Chandler go, she will get angry and still fire her. She became worried and made a ‘scene’ in front of Chandler which was a bad idea, as it made her look needier than him. This gave Chandler an advantage, even when Rachel cuffed him to the shelves, she was the one who had something to lose, while for him the worst scenario included waiting for his ‘girlfriend’ for few hours alone in a nice room (which is not that bad, actually). He has power by having an alternative which usually increases one's own outcome (Pinkley, Neale & Bennett, 1994) while the opponent is in disadvantaged situation with no alternatives.

Chandler now is in better situation and both negotiators understand it, so Rachel starts offering all kind of things like cleaning bathroom for a month or making juice for him every morning. Chandler declines everything wanting his freedom (or just waiting for something better Rachel can offer).
When Rachel thought of something every person wants to offer to Chandler – social recognition. He agrees, because he doesn’t have anything to lose, and accepting an offer is kind of winning, as few hours that he ‘gave up’ are nothing in comparison with the social approval, especially for the shy and kind of lonely person like Chandler. Twenge, J. M. and Im, C. (2007) found that positive social trends correlate with the desire of social approval. In the situation presented above the absence of those positive social trends during childhood (e.g. divorce of parents) move Chandler to accept the offer and get that desired social recognition. In this negotiation, Rachel managed to find Chandler’s BATNA and win the negotiation being in a disadvantaged situation from the beginning. That’s the example of good negotiation skills!

Baumeister, R. F., Stillwell, A. M., & Heatherton, T. F. (1994). Guilt: An interpersonal approach. Psychological Bulletin, 115(2), 243-267.

Grant, N. K., Fabrigar, L. R., & Lim, H. (2010). Exploring the efficacy of compliments as a tactic for securing compliance. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 32(3), 226-233.

Pinkley, R. L., Neale, M. A., & Bennett, R. J. (1994). The impact of alternatives to settlement in dyadic negotiation. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 57(1), 97-116.

Twenge, J. M., & Im, C. (2007). Changes in the need for social approval, 1958–2001. Journal of Research in Personality, 41(1), 171-189.

Liza Khmelnitskaya 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Big Sam ABA-rdyce

In my future career as a top flight football manager (give or take a few divisions) I could utilise Applied Behavioral Anaylysis (ABA) in securing silverware. ABA involves solving behavioral problems by providing antecedents and consequences or outcomes that can change behavioral patterns. 

An example of a problem behavior in football would be players fluffing their lines at important times in big games, not converting chances that they really should, perhaps in stoppage time with 3 points on the line:

However, the principles of reinforcement in ABA require that any attempt to modify a target behavior is immediately followed by a reinforcer (either positive or negative), and the laws of football often don't allow for such interventions. As much as Jose Mourinho enjoys incursions onto the field of play, any attempt to immediately provide an ABA-style consequence when Torres misses a glaring opportunity would prove a step too far, even for the Special One. Having said that, it didn't stop a certain Phil Brown, then Hull City (tigers?) manager from sitting his side down on the pitch for a good old fashioned finger-wagging after a dire 4-0 first half performance against Man City. Results from this study show no significant impact on the team's post-intervention performance as they went on to lose the game, Phil Brown lost his job, and Hull were relegated at the end of the season. 

Perhaps a move effective intervention would be to focus on finishing skills in training sessions, whereby managerial intervention can happen in a less pressurised environment. Allison and Ayllon (1980) looked at the coaching of tackling in 11 and 12 year old American football players. Instead of the inconsistent and negative coaching style they encountered initially (players were made to run laps instead of perfect a skill, told they were stupid) the researchers prescribed instead a method of behavioral coaching. 

This involved setting up a system whereby feedback was consistent, and if the target behavior did not match the coaches expectations the coach would intervene to ensure the player understood exactly what was being asked of them by modelling the desired behavior (correct tackling posture) and having the player imitate him and repeat the drill again. They found that correct tackle execution increased from 8.3% before the behavioral coaching to 48% after the intervention. Furthermore, using an ABAB experimental design, the researchers found that correct tackle execution dropped back to about 10% when reverted to normal coaching conditions, and increased to 60% when the intervention was reintroduced. 

Following from this, appropriate and consistent praise should be given on the training ground for footballers who put away chances well. For those who have trouble taking opportunities, an intervention whereby the manager halts the play and gives feedback on what went wrong ("you were leaning too far back", "you opened your body up too much") and makes the player repeat the chance from a similar position until they get it right may help to aid extinction of the problem behavior in a more effective way then telling them they can't finish for their dinner and telling them to run laps. 

Paul O'Connor - Blog 4


Allison, M. G., & Ayllon, T. (1980). Behavioral coaching in the development of skills in football, gymnastics, and tennis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,13(2), 297-314.

Negotiating with friends

The scene above from the hugely popular 'Friends' series shows a negotiation between Chandler and Rachel. Chandler needs Rachel to release him from his handcuffs, however in doing this, Rachel would get into trouble with her boss. A few negotiation techniques are used in order to reach an outcome that they are both happy with.

One of the first techniques that Chandler uses is flattery in which he compliments Rachel on her outfit. Flattery has been shown to increase preference for resolving conflict through collaboration and reduce preference for resolving conflict through avoidance (Baron et al, 1990). This is because flattery induces positive affect, which enhances prosocial organisational behaviours, therefore making someone more cooperative.
Kim et al. (2003) tested the effect of being given positive vs. negative feedback before, during and after negotiation. They found that flattery increased cooperativeness in negotiating, further supporting its power in negotiating techniques.

Chandler successfully gets Rachel to unlock him from his handcuffs the first time by making her feel guilty about him being stuck there. He claims that he is cold and could be left there for hours, which successfully pulls of Rachel's heart string, and makes her feel responsible. Guilt is a popular persuasive technique often used in advertising. It is most commonly used by charity organisations who, often successfully, get people to donate money by making them feel guilty for not helping others. Butt et al. (2005) found that when negotiators feel guilty, they may want to avoid negotiation or complete the negotiation session as quickly as possible in order to reduce their exposure to the negative event. When a negotiator feels guilty, they are more likely to use compromising behaviour to reach an agreement quickly by taking a middle ground, resulting in at least partially satisfactory outcomes. Chandler only mentions in one sentence that he is cold, and Rachel changes her mind straight away and agrees to release him, showing that his guilt-tripping worked with immediate effect.

These are just a few of the negotiation techniques used in the scene which successfully show the power of subtle persuasive techniques to help you get what you really want!

By Katie Lawton

Baron, R. A., Fortin, S. P., Frei, R. L., Hauver, L. A., & Shack, M. L. (1990). Reducing organizational conflict: The role of socially-induced positive affect. International Journal of Conflict Management, 1, 133-152.

Butt, A. N., Choi, J. N., & Jaeger, A. M. (2005). The effects of self-emotion, counterpart emotion, and counterpart behaviour on negotiator behaviour: a comparison of individual-level and dyad-level dynamics. Journal of Organisational Behaviour, 26, 681-704.

Kim, P. H., Diekmann, K. A., & Tenbrunsel, A. E. (2003). Flattery may get you somewhere: The strategic implications of providing positive vs. negative feedback about ability vs. ethicality in negotiation. Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, 90, 225-243.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How many hostages are you worth?

Just how crazy do you start off when negotiating? In a scene from Castle – a tv series – the famous writer Richard Castle finds himself in a hostage situation negotiation. His initial offer – to trade places for a mother and a kid – is accepted by the criminal with no hesitation.

“Castle, what the hell were you thinking?” asks the police officer. “I have no idea, honestly I didn’t think she would take the deal …”

This is a perfect example of miscalculating the Zone of Possible Agreement (ZOPA).

The Zone of Possible Agreement is the space between the “worst case offer” each party is willing to accept. Often the ZOPA is much bigger than we initially believe it to be. The writer in our scene thinks trading him for two other hostages is an outrageous offer the criminal would never agree to, when in fact, to the criminal it seems like a beautiful offer.

A successful negotiation primarily depends on accurately estimating the zone of possible agreement and the best negotiation analysts focus on just that (Sebenius, 1992). When analysing a negotiation, it is not only about estimating the ZOPA at one given time, but observing its change over the whole course of negotiation. Such overview gives you a good idea of who is a more successful negotiator.

The perception of our “worst accepted scenario outcome” is not set in stone and a successful negotiator may use this fact to slowly shift the ZOPA in his favour, turning outcomes that were completely off the table into possible solutions.

So if you are ever trapped in a hostage negotiation, how many hostages are you worth? Is there really a borderline number? Chances are you are worth many more than you initially think you are.

Tomas Engelthaler – Blog #5



Sebenius, J. K. (1992). Negotiation analysis: A characterization and review. Management Science, 38(1), 18-38.


Community Analyst - a necessity, not a bonus

To deliver a successful commercial product, it is crucial to understand your customers. This is especially true when your product is a recurring service, as you are not only delivering a one-time product, but also supplying reasons why the client should keep paying on a regular basis.
The business of online games has evolved dramatically over the last 10 years. What used to be a niche form of entertainment covering thousands of players is now targeting the mainstream, resulting in tens of millions clients enjoying a single product. In this constantly changing environment, it is not enough to simply design a game and then release it into the world. Instead, the key is to design a game with your target community in mind, connecting your target demographic to your product right in the early stages of development.
Carbine, a video game company behind the project Wildstar, lets players choose one out of four styles of gameplay, resulting in a tailored experience to the client’s needs. These four gameplay styles were not chosen on random. In fact, they are rooted in psychological research.
Who does research like this? Community analysts.
The role of a community analyst connects behavioural analysis, data mining and the knowledge of gameplay development to provide information on how to shape online games into tailored experiences that are well received by the target audience. Using behavioural analysis in combination with data mining, the analyst comes up with a theory that may be retested and subsequently used as valuable input in the game design process.
A community analyst could explore things like motivation behind playing videogames and how these relate to demographics (Yee, 2006). This information is further used to establish a connection between the motivation and payment models (Hsu, & Lu, 2007). Such approach uses the ideas behind behavioural analysis to predict customer behaviour based on collected data, allowing the company to design a smart payment model.
A smart payment model is one that is not only based on what the customers enjoy, but also flexibly adapts to how the community shapes over time. With the emergence of innovative payment models within the entertainment industry, such insight is not only advantageous, but also crucial to releasing a successful online game.
The role of a community analyst is no longer a fancy perk a successful project can afford after releasing a game, but instead a necessary component present from the very early stages of development.
I hope I personally can use ABA to develop innovative approaches to the way we perceive the connection between a community and a product and I would love to one day develop a flexible development model that, with little to no delay, responds to a change in community.
Tomas Engelthaler – Blog #4
Hsu, C. L., & Lu, H. P. (2007). Consumer behavior in online game communities: A motivational factor perspective. Computers in Human Behavior, 23(3), 1642-1659.
Yee, N. (2006). The demographics, motivations, and derived experiences of users of massively multi-user online graphical environments. Presence: Teleoperators and virtual environments, 15(3), 309-329.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Gucci Gucci Goo

This ad for a new Gucci Fragrance, Premiere, was analysed by Frankie Woolgar last year, who pointed out the physical attractiveness-admirer altercast and high status-admirer altercast aspects evident in this video. 

Youtube commentator Calucifer13 remarks:
"This is so 'shiny', this advert. I mean, I love it. It sparkles like gold and diamonds. She does, too. She is shining like the sun!"
which I think it is a pretty fair summary of the aesthetic quality Gucci were aiming for. Blake Lively surveys her kingdom, the city of Angels, from her Ivory (or golden?) Tower. She came, she saw, she conquered, in not one but two ball gowns, the golden one being I guess the equivalent of a normal person's onesie for our heroine. In her own words:
"This fragrance is especially special because it has these flirty, feminine, floral and bergamot smells.. but then it has this leather and wood that strengthen the masculinity."

Anchorman references aside, we can glean a little more about the message the ad attempts to convey from the director, Nicolas Refn:
"The whole campaign is about movie mythology, the romanticism of movie mythology. I mean, we're in Hollywood, this is where it all began."
a sentiment which is awesomely reflected in the behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the advert, replete with a lonely fat man with exclusive voyeur access to Blake Lively's Great Glass Elevator.

Ignoring for a moment the background for this ad and focusing instead on the message it intends to convey we can see a number of techniques used to give the pitch a persuasive quality. The makers set the scene using landscaping techniques, such as association, whereby the idea/product (frangrance) is linked to another positive concept (Blake Lively) in order to transfer the meaning from the second to the first (Staats & Staats, 1958). Association appears to work particularly well when the idea/product is made similar to another concept on irrelevant attributes (Pratkanis, 2007) - in this case the common attribute is the colour gold. Another technique used to influence the audience is the establishment of source credibility by adopting the uniform of attractiveness and fame such as make-up, glamorous clothing and a movie star narrative (Cialdini, 2001).

Social modeling can be a powerful tactic in influencing behaviour, in this case the desired behaviour is buying Gucci's fragrance. Social modeling is when the likelihood of a given behaviour occuring is increased by the presence of a person demonstrating that behaviour. This effect has been found to be even more powerful when the person modeling the behaviour is high in prestige, status and attractiveness (Pratkanis & Aronson, 2001).

In a study where participants were asked to envisage the benefits of cable television in their lives, Gregory, Cialdini, and Carpenter (1982) showed that when asked to image the benefits of a product people were 2.5 times more likely to purchase a subscription. In this advert Blake Lively is wearing Premiere, the essence for women, and taking over Hollywood (how considerate - they envisage the consequences for us). It would sensible to assume that the same outcome would result for any woman who chose to wear this fragrance. 

It is clear from the director's comments that this ad aims to associate wearing this fragrance with becoming a successful movie star, by using a credible source: a successful movie star. This ad was well received by critics, but given the plethora of persuasive techniques utilised this is little wonder. In the words of director Nicolas Refn (seriously this man is a soundbite machine):
"How do you make a baby happy? You say Gucci Gucci Gucci."

Paul O'Connor - Blog 2


Cialdini, R. B. (2001). Influence: Science and practice (Vol. 4). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Gregory, W. L., Cialdini, R. B., & Carpenter, K. M. (1982). Self-relevant scenarios as mediators of likelihood estimates and compliance: Does imagining make it so?. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology43(1), 89.

Pratkanis, A. R. (2007). Social influence analysis: An index of tactics. The science of social influence: Advances and future progress, 17-82.

Pratkanis, A. R., Pratkanis, A., & Aronson, E. (2001). Age of propaganda: The everyday use and abuse of persuasion. Macmillan.

Staats, A. W., & Staats, C. K. (1958). Attitudes established by classical conditioning. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology57(1), 37.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Power of Uniforms!!

Clothes is very important as it symbolises the status of a person and also cultures in different ceremony. A lot of researches have investigated into the effect of apparel on several types of behaviours, such as aggressive behaviour and honesty. In the experiment done by Bushman (1988), it focused on the investigation of formal uniforms and the effect of compliance.  As uniform symbolises authority and legitimacy, this study can demonstrate that authority can make people comply in situations. 

In this study, 150 adult pedestrians were recruited in St. Louis, Missouri.  The selection condition is that the subject was alone and did not see the interaction between the confederate and the previous subject.  The confederate would be either wearing an old yellow T-shirt with brown pants (a pretty casual outfit), business attire or an ambiguous, but salient uniform with a "Manchester Explorer" patch on the sleeve. The experimenter would be standing next to car that had a expired parking permit.  The confederate would be standing away from the car and asked the subject to help the experimenter with some changes.  The confederate would raise her hand and say "this fellow is overparked at the meter and doesn't have any changes. Give him a nikel!"  Two nonobstrusive observers would record the behaviour of subjects.  The experimenter would later asked about the motives of the helping behaviour and had that recorded on a cassette recorder later on.  The subjects were debriefed after the short experimental session on the nature of the study.

The independent variable is the level of perceived authority, which is divided into 3 levels.  They were the no-authority condition, the status-authority condition and the role-authority condition.  The dependent variable is compliance which was defined as the subject's giving the experimenter change for the parking meter. Verbal reasons given by the subject were recorded. They were divided into four categories for complying: altruism, compliance, unquestioned obedience, or ambiguous.  As for not complying, the categories were no change, questioned perceived authority, silent and hostile.

The result of study showed that there is a significant difference in compliance rates as a function of apparel.  72% of the subject complied in the role-authority condition, which was the highest among all three conditions.  The percentage for the status-authority and no-authority group were 48% and 52 respectively.  No difference were found between the no-authority and status-authority condition. Among all the reason given for complying, unquestioned obedience has the highest percentage for status-authority and role-authority.

The study was in line with previous researches on similar topics and indicated that uniform can make people comply more, thus proving authority is one of the compliance tactics that is really working in our daily life.

Bushman, B, J. (1988) The Effects of Apparel on Compliance: A Field Experiment with a Female Authority Figure. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 14, 459-467.

Chermaine Chan Kei Fong - Blog 3

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Restaurants and Reciprocity

There are around 2.3 million people working as servers in restaurants in the United States, many earning a nominal wage that can be as low as $2.13/hour in some states. For the vast majority of these people customer tips make up the biggest proportion of their take home income. American service is famous for being the best in the world, so we can assume that these servers are already giving their customers the best service they posibly can. Well, what if there was a way to boost tips even further?

This is a question that Strohmetz, Rind, Fisher and Lynn (2002) looked at in an experiment that aimed to examine the relationship between the use of candy proferred at the end of a meal and tip size in a real-life restaurant setting. They hypothesised that customers who received a small piece of Hershey's chocolate along with their bill would tip more than those who didn't. They extended this to hypothesize that the magnitude of the tip would be related to the size of the offering (read: number of chocolates offered) as well as the manner in which it was offered.

To investigate these hypotheses, two experiments were conducted. The first experiment compared two conditions whereby in the experimental condition a server in a restaurant would offer each member of a dining party a piece of chocolate when delivering the bill, in the control condition the diners received no candy. Results from this study showed that diners tipped more when they were given the gift of candy with their bill: the mean tip percentage for the candy condition was 17.84% while the mean tip percentage for the no-candy condition was 15.06%. To further evaluate this effect, a second experiment was devised.  

In the second experiment the researchers manipulated the amount of candy given, as well as the apparent manner in which it was delivered. The distinguishing feature between the 2 piece and 1+1 piece condition (where the absolute amount of candy given was the same) was that in the 1+1 condition the server offered each guest a piece of chocolate, then stopped as she was leaving the table to offer each guest another piece. 

The results shown in the table above show that the magnitude of tip given (as a percentage of the total bill) increased as the amount of candy offered increased. Furthermore, the apparently personal act of extra generosity in the 1+1 piece condition resulted in higher tips than when the same amount of candy (2 pieces) were presented simultaneously. 

The research shows that a simple gift of candy can have an effect on the size of tips a server could expect to receive. Strohmetz et al. put this effect down to the norm of reciprocity (Cialdini, 2001). Due to the sense of obligation felt by the diners as a result of the gift of candy they reciropcated the act of generosity by paying greater tips. This sense of obligation to reciprocate a favour has been shown to occur regardless of whether or not the favour was anticipated (Regan, 1971). This research has implications for people working in restaurants and is an example of the practical use of reciprocity as a compliance technique. 

Paul O'Connor - Blog 3


Cialdini, R. B. (2001). Influence: Science and practice (Vol. 4). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Regan, D. T. (1971). Effects of a favor and liking on compliance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology7(6), 627-639.

Strohmetz, D. B., Rind, B., Fisher, R., & Lynn, M. (2002). Sweetening the Till: The Use of Candy to Increase Restaurant Tipping1. Journal of Applied Social Psychology32(2), 300-309.