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.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Make a Wish Foundation, U.S. Advertisement, 2010

In this advert Make a Wish Foundation use a voice-over to ensure that only the sick children, their carers and their ‘wishes’ are seen, thereby not distracting the spectator from them with a presenter. It also informs the spectator that “you can lift their spirits by giving them a special kind of hope” and that “there are thousands of wishes waiting to come true- you can make it happen.” Therefore placing the viewer in the position of responsibility to make a difference to these children’s lives. This is known as the Dependency-responsibility Altercast, which is an effective method for obtaining compliance with a request to exhibit dependency on another person therefore placing that person in the role of responsibility.

This is supported by Doob & Ecker (1970), in their experiment subjects were approached by someone with (or without) an eye patch, who then asked them to complete a questionnaire. This eye patch presented a stigma of someone that was dependent on the target for getting the task done. The findings revealed that subjects were more likely to comply with a request from someone who appears ‘vulnerable’ (with eye patch) than who does not (without an eye patch).

Further support is provided by Pratkanis & Gliner (2004-2005) who cite that a child creates a dependency relationship thus is more effective (than an expert) in arguing for protection-themed issues. For instance, allowing the ill children shown in the advert to have a moment of fun, to fulfill their dream before its no longer possible.

Doob, A.N., & Ecker, B.P (1970)Stigma and compliance, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 14, 302-304

Pratkanis, A.R, & Gliner, M.D (2004-2005)And when shall a little child lead them? Evidence for an altercasting theory of source credibility. Current Psychology, 23, 279-304

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