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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Help me help you

Towards the end of his motivational speech Al Pacino taps into the persuasive technique of reciprocity; an individual team member should cooperate not only because his other team member(s) will, but also because they will all receive a higher pay off than if only a couple of team members cooperate. Reciprocity is considered to be a social norm and shown that it can be a tool for persuasion.

For instance in Cialdini, Green and Rusch’s (1992; experiment 3) experiment each participant worked with a same sex confederate (posing as a participant). They filled in a questionnaire individually which was used to establish the participant’s views on several topics, the core one being a proposal to introduce comprehensive senior examinations at their university. Afterwards, each individual was allocated one of the topics and told to write 3 arguments to support their personal view on that topic. They were told that they would discuss each topic at a time. It was arranged so that the participant’s topic would be discussed first, therefore the confederate had to read the participant’s arguments. The experimental manipulation came in the next part as the confederate then had to illustrate whether the participant’s arguments promoted him or her to change his or her initial view on that topic. In the yield condition the confederate claimed that the participant’s arguments had changed the confederate’s mind on this issue in the direction of what the participant believed. In the resist condition, the confederate claimed that his or her views have not changed after reading the participant’s arguments. In the control condition, there was no interaction between the participants. Finally, the same activity was done with the confederate’s topic (a proposal to introduce comprehensive senior examinations at their university).

The results showed that participants produced the greatest attitude change in the direction of the confederate’s views if the confederate initially yielded to his or her argument. There was least attitude change when the confederate resisted.


Cialdini, R., Green, B.L., & Rusch, A.J. (1992). When tactical pronouncements of change become real change: The case of reciprocal persuasion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 30-40.


  1. So, in other words, people believe more in their own arguments when others claim to be persuaded by those arguments? Or, as in the Pacino-technique, people believe more in themselves when others believe in them as well. Sounds plausible.

    1. I re-typed my description of the experiment and the results as the message I was trying to convey did not come across appropriately. Hope this new write up gives a clearer representation of the research.


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