Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor 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.

Friday, January 25, 2013

California "Misconceptions"




This advertisement is used to try and improve tourism in California. There are many persuasive techniques utilized, but only a few will be focused on. To start off, all of the people in the advert are either attractive, or celebrities, with the majority being both. These techniques are the Physically attractive-admirer altercast, and the High-status admirer altercast. Chaiken (1979) found that attractive undergraduates were rated higher on a persuasiveness scale than unattractive undergraduates presenting the same message. Kahle and Homer (1985) found that when an advertisement for disposable razors had a celebrity endorsement, reported purchase intentions had a significant increase.

For the message of the advert, the viewer is told that all these positive activities (surfing, being a celebrity, owning a convertible etc.) are misconceptions and that there is more to California. This allows for the attractive activities to be shown, whilst also omitting an explicit conclusion by telling the viewer to visit California to “know the truth”. Sawyer and Howard (1991) found that when they presented a message to a group of students, when there was no explicit conclusion to the advertisement, purchase intention increased significantly. Finally, the advert throws in a rhetorical question (“where do they get these ideas from?”). Petty, Cacioppo and Heesacker (1981) found that when a counter-attitudinal argument was presented via the use of rhetorical questions, thinking about the argument increased.


Chaiken, S. (1979). Communicator physical attractiveness and persuasion.Journal of personality and social psychology37(8), 1387.
Kahle, L. R., & Homer, P. M. (1985). Physical attractiveness of the celebrity endorser: A social adaptation perspective. Journal of consumer research, 954-961.
Petty, R. E., Cacioppo, J. T., & Heesacker, M. (1981). Effects of rhetorical questions on persuasion: A cognitive response analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology40(3), 432.
Sawyer, A. G., & Howard, D. J. (1991). Effects of omitting conclusions in advertisements to involved and uninvolved audiences. Journal of Marketing Research, 467-474.



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