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

  One of the most striking things about this advert (for weight loss tablets) is its attempt to manipulate its audience’s emotions, a key persuasive technique (Arisotle, as cited in Pratkanis, 2007). For example, it uses flattery - implying that people who have previously attempted to lose weight  have put a lot of effort into doing so. The high efficacy of this technique reinforced by some (e.g. Chan & Sengupta, 2010).

  Chan and Sengupta (2010)’s participants were given an advert (for an imaginary shop) that flattered them (complimented their style) before being given the choice between that shop’s coupons and (a non-flattering) alternative (a few days afterwards). The first shop’s coupons were chosen more often (Chan & Sengupta, 2010). Perhaps the company responsible for this advert is counting on the fact that a future purchase (of the weight loss tablets) may be made more likely simply by the compliment being implicitly registered (Chan & Sengupta, 2010). 

  Arguably, this flattery may also be aimed at positive mood induction (Pratkanis & Abbott, as cited in Pratkanis, 2007); an attempt to increase audience receptiveness to the following argument (Van ‘t  Riet, Ruiter, Werrij, Candel, & de Vries, 2010).

Chan, E., & Sengupta, J. (2010). Insincere flattery actually works: A dual attitudes perspective.
  Journal of Marketing Research, 47, 122 - 133.

Van ‘t  Riet, J., Ruiter, R.A.C., Werrij, M.Q., Candel, M.J.J.M, & de Vries, H. (2010). Distinct
  pathways to persuasion: The role of affect in message framing effects. European Journal of 
  Social Psychology,40, 1261 - 1276. 

Pratkanis, A.R. (2007). Social Influence Analysis: An Index of Tactics. In A.R. Pratkanis (Ed.),
  The Science of Social Influences: Advances and Future Progress (pp. 17 -83). New York:
  Psychology Press.  


  1. How did Chan and Sengupta flatter their potential buyers? And how does this add flatter its target audience?


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