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.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

E-Lites: What are you missing?

This advert is for E-lites (electronic cigarettes that can be used indoors) and uses a few subtle but powerful persuasive techniques to encourage the viewer to switch from 'normal' cigarettes.

One of the techniques used is the inclusion of intimates, in this case close family with a young baby. Research suggests that close relationships create an obligation of putting these others before ourselves (Roloff, Janiszewski, McGrath, Burns, & Manrai, 1988) and failure to do so generates guilt which in turn results in further motivation to follow the request of the intimate (Vangelisti, Daly, & Rudnick, 1991). Intimates are also a major social influence when adopting cultural practices such as smoking (Goodrow, Seier, & Stewart, 2003). 

Another technique used is guilt sells; this is the feeling of responsibility for some wrongdoing. Carlsmith and Gross (1969) made students believe that they had given a series of painful shocks to another individual as part of a learning experiment. Following on from this these students were more likely to comply to requests for 'save the redwoods' when asked by the individual they believed they had shocked or another individual who knew nothing about the shocks. 

In this advert the baby acts as the main intimate and provokes guilt in the male who instead of having an E-lite and remaining in the room leaves for a cigarette, missing out on the baby performing an unbelievable and entertaining dance.


Carlsmith, J. M., & Gross, A. E. (1969). Some effects of guilt on compliance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 11, 232-239.

Goodrow, B., Seier, E., & Stewart, K. (2003). Social influences and adolescent attitudes on smoking: Analysis of the 2000 Tennessee Youth Tobacco Survey. Adolescent and Family Health, 3, 89-94.

Roloff, M. E., Janiszewski, C. A., McGrath, M. A., Burns, C. S., & Manrai, L. A. (1988). Aquiring resources from intimates: When obligation substitutes for persuasion. Human Communication Research, 14, 364-396.

Vangelisti, A. L., Daly, J. A., & Rudnick, J. R. (1991). Making people feel guilty in conversations: Techniques and correlates. Human Communication Research, 18, 3-39. 

1 comment:

  1. It's a funny little advertisement and an interesting angle on the research.


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