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.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Directv Commercial 2012

This is an advertisement from DirecTV in the United States. DirecTV is a direct broadcast satellite service provider and broadcaster. This advert demonstrated several persuasion techniques.

The first technique used is storytelling. There are studies showing that reasonable stories can guide thoughts, determine the credibility of information, and finally direct evaluation and choice about story-related decision (Hastie & Pennington, 2000). It has been proven that when information is organized in a story format, persuasion is more effective than when it is presented individually (Pennington & Hastie, 1992). In this advert, there are 3 separate stories, all aiming to persuade targets to get rid of cable and upgrade to DirecTV. 

The second technique used is repetition of a message. Repeating a message over and over again has been proven to increase acceptance of the communication. Zajonc (1968) showed that message repetition is effective by strengthening the liking of object through the mere exposure effect. Boehm (1994) also showed that repetitive message increases the perceived validity of the message. In this particular advert, the main message (get rid of cable and upgrade to DirecTV) is told three times, each right after a story. This makes their message more memorable and persuasive.

The last technique used is the negativity effect. Kanouse and Janson (1972) suggested that negative information is much more influential that positive information when someone is making judgments on an issue or thing. Lau(1982) showed that negative information about the US Presidential candidates caught more attention than positive information about them. In this advert, all 3 stories ended up with negative consequences due to the usage of cable instead of DirecTV. By using negative story-lines, it makes the stories more memorable and receives more attention from target customers. 


Boehm, L. E. (1994). The validity effect: A search for mediating variables. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 20, 285-293.

Hastie, R., & Pennington, N. (2000). Explanation-based decision making. In T. Connolly, H. R. Arkes, & K. R. Hammond (Eds.), Judgment and decision making (2nd ed., pp. 212-228). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kanouse, D. E., & Hanson, L. R. (1972). Negativity in evaluations. In E. E. Jones, D. E. Kanouse, H. H. Kelley, R. E. Nisbett, S. Valins, & B. Weiner (Eds.), Attribution: Perceiving the causes of behavior (pp.47-62). Morristown, NJ: General Learning Press.

Lau, R. (1982). Negativity in political perception. Political Behavior, 4, 352-377.

Pennington, N., & Hastie, R. (1992). Explaining the evidence: Tests of the story model for juror decision making. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 189-206

Zajonc, R. B. (1968). The attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of personality and Social Psychology, Monogragh Supplement, 9, 1-27


  1. Nice advert...deliciously describing a causal chain of consequences associated with making an assumedly minor decision. Humorous and somehow strangely logical at the same time. Could you please explain how any of the studies you mentioned actually provide evidence the claims you associate with them? At least for one of these studies, explain how the experiment was done, what the conditions were and what was the manipulation and how was it done.

  2. try looking at a jargon free approach to the essentials of persuasion in business and everyday life


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