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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WW1 Propaganda


This is an example of WW1 propaganda encouraging participation in the 1917 Liberty Loan Drive, appealing to U.S. immigrants. It uses a variety of techniques to encourage financial investment in the war.

This poster makes use of a rhetorical question to encourage the viewer to consider the message more deeply. Burnkrant and Hovland's (1984) study showed that the use of rhetorical questions motivates more intensive processing of message content and produces more favourable attitudes when strong arguments are employed (in this case they are). Furthermore, rhetorical questions can draw attention to the source of the message which, if positive, can increase persuasion (Ahuwaliah & Burnkrant, 2004). In this case, the argument is strong and the sourde is credible (the U.S. Government) meaning the use of a question as a rhetorical technique should increase persuasiveness. 


It also capitalises on feelings of patriotism by making use of the 'Granfaloon' tactic. This encourages individuals to identify with a social group and to engage in behaviour associated with group membership. here, influence is based on the relationship between immigrants, the U.S. government, and the role of a U.S (i.e. being an American). citizen. Identification with the social group should encourage the following form of thinking "I am now an American, America has given me my freedom, I should contribute to the war effort." In a study by Tajfel (1981) the minimal group paradigm was explored and it was noted how quickly and easily social categorisation occurs, even on the basis of inconsequential criteria. For example, individuals were designated to groups on the basis of a coin toss. Even though groups were based on a meaningless association, individuals felt a positive bias toward in-group members. On a seperate note, I also think the use of red, white, and blue appeals to patriotism.

Ahluwalia, R., & Burnkrant, R. E. (2004). Answering questions about questions: A persuasion knowledge perspective for understanding the effects of rhetorical questions. Journal of Consumer Research, 31, 26-42.

Burnkrant, R. E., & Howard, D. J. (1984). Effects of the use of introductory rhetorical questions versus statements on information processing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 1218, 501-508. 

Tajfel, H. (1981). Human groups and social categories. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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