Behaviour Change

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

Friday, November 1, 2013

The University Costa creates a stressful decision-making process

No matter how planned is your buying process when going to the University Costa Coffee, the food stalls will always grab your attention. 
Their in-store display is planned so that you have to walk through and pay nearby food stalls (Fig.1).

I argue that the University of Warwick Costa Coffee creates a stressful buying process for its customers. Similarly to Keinan (1987) experiment's subjects, I am anxious (in my case, not about an electric shock) when making a decision: food snack or no food snack with my Americano Coffee? As such, I do not gather enough information to effortfully think my decision through - and regret this blueberry muffin as soon as I ate it.

Fig.1: University of Warwick on-campus Costa Coffee 'customer path'
to Cash Point and highlighted areas with food stalls.

Various elements create a situation of stress for the University Costa Coffee customer:

(1) Customers are obliged to pay for products before sitting down in the Coffee place. Food snacks need to be picked up before payment. This strengthens a sense of 'obligation' of product selection. 

(2) Food snacks are not indicated on the large-display Menu. Customers only 'learn' about the product when seeing it. This reduces the time they have to 'adapt' themselves to new information.

(3) If the Food snack needs to be heated in the oven, a barista will collect it before payment (to increase the buying process throughput time). This reduces the time customers have to change their opinion. 

(4) Queueing often develops in-between food stalls: the customer feels pressured to make a decision 'while being in-between the stalls'. Otherwise the customer could loose his place in the queue, to return to the food stalls and collect a product after second thoughts. This creates a more or less credible threat for 'not-choosing' a product. 

(5) The variety of choices should hinder the consumer's motivation to buy. In Iyengard and Lepper (2000) experiment, 30% of subjects bought from a limited selection of gourmet jams, and only 3% from an extensive selection. However, subjects were not forced to 'stop and check out' the 6 or 24 gourmet jams in a grocery store. It is arguable that the Costa Coffee 'forces' customers to queue in-between Food stalls - and to therefore "check out" the food snacks. This further increases their sense of 'obligation' of product selection.

To those of you who think I am rationalising about this to perform some sort of coping strategy - you're right.


Keinan, G. (1987). Decision-making under stress: Scanning of alternatives under controllable and uncontrollable threats. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 639-644.

Iyengar, S., Lepper, M. (2000). When Choice is Demotivating: Can One Desire Too Much of a Good Thing?. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 995-1006.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Psychology of Breaking Bad: It's easier than you think

Vince Gilligan, creator of Breaking Bad, said that his goal with Walter White was to turn Mr. Chips into Scarface.  Take a regular person, like you—assume you’re regular for a second—and then make you nice and evil, like a witch in a gingerbread house.  Is that really even possible?  Could you become another Walter White?  

In this post at Psychology Today, I describe some of the psychological reasons that make this easier than it looks. Most importantly, they almost all apply to work in the persuasion and influence literature.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A humorous and excellent message about heart disease and women from the American Heart Association (actress: Elizabeth Banks).

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Friday, April 26, 2013

Hovis-'Go On Lad'

This advertisement by Hovis, a UK brand of flour and bread, was released in 2008 and used powerful storytelling to evoke strong emotions in the viewers by documenting the 122 years of British history since the brands launch.

Storytelling as an influential technique is used very effectively in the advert in which it tells the tale of a boy buying a loaf of bread and witnessing key moments of British history as he makes his way back home. Evidence for this technique comes from Harris (2008), who demonstrated that higher levels of story in an adverts message can lead to higher levels of response in Self-referencing processing measures as well as likability and ad-induced brand interest.

The advert by taking the viewer through time in British history illustrates how ‘Hovis’ has always  been a British product and has been there for its consumers in both good times and during hardship. This association of their brand with British history inspires feelings of patriotism in the consumer and will encourage them to buy domestic goods, in this case, Hovis bread. Research by Han (1988), found that ‘patriotic emotion’ had a significant effect on purchase intent, in his study 212 consumers were asked to evaluate 2 categories of domestic and foreign-made products, 116 TVs and 96 automobiles. It was found that patriotic emotion led to purchase intent being greater for domestic products than foreign-made products.

Han, C. M. (1988). The role of consumer patriotism in the choice of domestic versus foreign products. Journal of Advertising Research, 28(3), 25-32.

Harris, M. A. B. (2008). Getting carried away: Understanding memory and consumer processing of perceived storytelling in advertisements. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 68, 3197-3197.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Persuasion video: learn first aid

Sophie Finch, Allarna Janson
Giving blood!
Stephen Mendonça
Shaady Parvarandeh
Naomi Muggleton


Created by: 
Alex Man Ching Chou 
Jodie Chung Mun Yen

Special Thanks to:
Winnie (Actress)
Ansel Adams (Quote)
Michael Ortega (Music)
Mini Market Coventry
Hong Kong Environmental Campaign Committee

Negative Body Image

Conor Barr
George Chester
Francesca Woolgar

Estrella Damm 2012

This Spanish beer ‘’Estrella Damn’’ advertisement uses the story of a young man in an idyllic and enviable holiday to discretely introduce the product. As the man travels through amazing sites and meets beautiful friends, the act of drinking an ‘’Estrella Damn’’ beer is highlighted as the perfect connection between all events and people. The attractiveness technique can be observed not only in the main character of the storyline and the women that surround him (DeBono & Telesca, 1990); but also in the storyline itself, set in the beautiful context of Serra de Tramuntana in Mallorca (a world heritage site).
Also an unforgettable background song makes the viewers’ remember the advertisement and thus the product.  Alexomanolaki, Loveday and Kennett (2006) show in their study that music is indeed a competent method of facilitating implicit learning and recall of the advertised product. In order to test this hypothesis they carried out a series of experiments with both musicians and non-musician subjects. In the experiment an unknown advert was included along three other adverts and in the middle of a television show. The target advert was produced in four different audio versions: jingle; music and voiceover; instrumental music; and sound effects and voiceover (which functioned as the control version). Later, an overall memory test for the television show, an indirect and a direct memory test fort the product were completed. Results from the indirect memory test show that all groups selected more words that were related to the target advert; meanwhile the control group chose more amount of neutral words. The experiment concluded that both musicians and non-musicians, under non-attentive conditions, have reinforced perception of the advert because of the music.

DeBono, K.G, Telesca, C. (1990). The Influence of Source Physical Attractiveness on Advertising Effectiveness: A Functional Perspective, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, pp. 1383–1395.

Alexomanolaki, M., Loveday, C. & Kennett, C. (2006). Music and Memory in advertising; Music as a device of implicit learning and recall, ICMPC-ESCOM, pp. 1190-1198.

Cyberbullying: Shut It Down

Must be viewed in at least 480p quality.

Matthew Cairnduff
Taylor Davies
Rebecca Newton

Thanks to:
Oliver Levett
Ben Keen

Broove - Heartbeats

First Aid: You could be the difference

Rachael Wilkes

Featuring: Rhian Miles

Music: Heather Small- Proud

Torture is never justified.

Jack Richecoeur, Jordan Quinn and Ciaran Walsh.



Charlotte Faulkner

Lisa Kato

Fiona Whiteway


With special thanks to  




Do Not Walk Alone

Tessa Johncox
Hannah Moore
Sarah Cross

Homeless Aware: It Starts With A Smile

Link to Video

Maria Calle-Llorente
Rebekah Dervley
Jade Sellars
Bethany Stone

Organ Donation Ad

Laura Tavener
Minna Fung
Tanya Aldridge
Emma Gardiner

Autism: what will you think?

Clare Lee, Emma Corless, CP

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

EAPN: Get involved!

Cecilia Gonzalez
Maya Soto
Thor Hidalgo

Do not bin it, bring it

Arthur Chan
Sylvia Krupa
Marta Wesierska

Start saving energy!

Yentl Lo Yuen Tung
Alena Piamkulawanich
Aditi Somani

End 'Fat Talk!'

Persuasion Video

Sophie Harding
Anna Fitzgibbon
Stephanie Henwood

Exercise doesn't have to be boring!

Created by:
Charlotte Hoyland
Margaret Olaniyan 
Deborah Willis 

Vanden Auweele, Y., Rzewnicki, R., & Van Mele, V. (1997). Reasons for not exercising and exercise intentions: A study of middle-aged sedentary adults. Journal of sports sciences, 15, 151-165


Olivia Carabine, Katie Stenner, Rebecca Seal and Alexia Shearman.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy


Elliot Walker
Adam Cheung

Everyone Should Vote

Made by: Rachel Drayton, Ioana Rotaru, Cora Whitney and Maria Fafouti. 

Societal pressure to be perfect- Eating disorders

Henar Ramirez as the young girl
Martin Lausegger as the young boy

Sophie Winand
Rubi Mancilla
Henar Ramirez

Monday, April 22, 2013


Created by: Kalina Wong Xin Yi, Godfrey Leung, Perry Wai Tung Chan

Warwick Welcome Service Advert

This is our advert encouraging students to apply to become part of the Warwick Welcome Service Student Ambassadors.

Created by:
Hava Kranat
Hermela Gebrekiros

Financial Literacy

Beware the Slenders and lenders: An advertisement promoting Financial literacy.

By Jess Green, Cat Rebak and Julia Langdon.

Video Assignment: How do you help the environment?

Created by: Luke Benson, Verity Smith, Rachel Dennan and Aimee Hardaker

Refuge: Domestic Abuse Awareness Video

check on youtube for better quality

Some viewers may find scenes in this video disturbing.


Josh Smith
Jessie Baldwin
Vanessa Monasterio

Go Meat Free This Monday

Created by:
Rhiannon Whelan
Lauren Fanson
Rea Malhotra Mukhtyar

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Created by
Emily Luke
Lucy Lu
Sarah Hunt

Sarah Hunt as main actress
Emily Luke
Lucy Lu
Aiko Dong

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Words Can Hurt

Created and edited by: 
Hafsa Imran
Junaina Pribhai
Piya Samtani

Junaina Pribhai as victim
Guneet Kahai as father
Shiv Goel as boyfriend
Piya Samtani as sister

Women's College Hospital. (1995). Canadian women's health test. Toronto. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Uncommon begging methods

Very often we see people begging in the street. Very different ways of begging can be observed, such as playing instruments, using kids/animals/ disabilities, plain begging or in some cases humor. In the link above we can observe several examples of begging using humor to attract attention and increase possibility of a donation.
An empirical study from Geuens and Pelsmacker (2002) provides evidence that using humor in persuasive messages does increase positive affect towards the advertised product. There were 510 participants in this study and both humorous and non-humorous advertising stimuli were used to show that humor has a positive impact on the attitudes of both high and low Need For Cognition-individuals, but that attitude formation takes place in different way. In individuals low in NFC a direct effect of humor on attitudes is found, while for individuals high in NFC and indirect influence via biased cognition is found.
Eight fictitious advertisements were made in four different products: paper handkerchiefs (low in involvement, informational product) insurance (high in involvement, informational product) a snack (low in involvement, transformational product) and holidays (high in involvement, transformational product). Two versions were used: humorous with slogans and pictures, and non-humorous just with slogans. Perceived humor, need for cognition and attitudes towards ad were all measured. Need for cognition didn’t exert any influence on number of positive ad cognitions but high NFC-individuals did have more negative cognitions towards ad. Use of humor had a positive impact on all affective responses increasing the number of positive cognitions towards ads and decreasing the number of negative ones.
The results from this experiment could be also relevant for begging, as the humor would increase the positive response towards the person and hence the possibility of the passerby giving money.

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

Thursday, March 28, 2013

#5 Achilles and the Myrmidons

This is a scene from the 2004 film Troy in which Achilles motivates and persuades his soldiers to defend the honour of Greece.

Firstly, he uses the pronoun 'we' to include himself amongst his soldiers even though he is their leader. Using 'we' has been found to bring the speaker closer to the audience and therefore increase the speaker's credibility and how engaging they are to the audience (Fuertes-Olivera et al., 2001).

Secondly, he uses a metaphor to describe himself and his warriors as 'lions'. Bowers & Osborn (1966) conducted a study to explore whether metaphors are more effective in persuasive messages at changing attitudes than literal speech. They used persuasive speeches as stimulus materials and participants heard two speeches, one containg metaphors and one completely literal. They were then tested on their attitude change towards each of the speeches as well as describing which one they favored more. The researchers found that participants the metaphorical speech brought about more attitude change (in the direction suggested by the speech) than the literal speech. Participants also favored the metaphorical speech more.

Finally, he calls his warriors 'brothers of sword'. This speaker technique of liking the audience to yourself is the similarity altercast. This allows the audience to positively identify with the speaker thus increasing the speaker's credibility in the eyes of the audience (Hecht, 1984).

Bowers, J., & Osborn, M. (1966). Attitudinal effects of selected types of concluding metaphors in persuasive speeches. Speech Monographs, 33, 147-155.

Fuertes-Olivera, P., Velasco-Sacristán, M., Arribas-Baño, A., & Samaniego-Fernández, E. (2001). Persuasion and advertising in English: Metadiscourse in slogans and headlines. Journal of Pragmatics, 33, 1291-1307.

Hecht, M. (1984). Persuasive efficacy: A study of the relationships among type and degree of change,

Mermidons , My brothers of sword , I would rather fight beside u than the army of thousands Let no Men forget How menacing we are , WE are Lions , U know whats their Waiting Beyond that beach , Immortality take it , ITS YOURS :)