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 23, 2013

Sensodyne Rapid Relief

This Advert was used to encourage people with sensitive teeth to use Sensodyne rapid relief toothpaste. The advert makes effective use of source credibility by using an expert (a dentist) who is making recommendations based on his patient’s experiences.

The effects of a high expert source has been investigated by Maddux and Rogers (1980) who gave participants a description of the source (expert or non-expert) followed by their opinions on sleep. They found that agreement with the source was higher if the source was an expert than a non-expert.

In addition, Sensodyne rapid relief is said to be like ‘regular toothpaste’, suggesting that it is regular toothpaste but better because of its additional health benefits. The use of this comparison is a useful persuasion technique because people evaluate options and choices by comparing them to salient alternatives and by making this comparison an endowment effect is created (Thaler, 1992) resulting in a bias favouring Sensodyne rapid relief over ‘regular toothpastes’. 

Maddux, J.E., & Rogers, R.W. (1980). Effects of source expertness, physical attractiveness, and supporting arguments on persuasion: A case of brains over beauty. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39 (2), 235-244.

Thaler, R.H. (1992). The winner’s curse: Paradoxes and anomalies of economic life. New York, NY, US: Free Press, New York,NY. 


  1. Nice description of Maddux and Rogers. I don't quite see how the endowment effect is relevant here, though. Could you elaborate? Usually the endowment effect has to do with willingness to accept payment for something you already own vs. willingness to pay for something you don't yet own. Is that taking place here?

  2. Having read deeper into the endowment effect I do think you are right and it is not quite relevant here. However, the point I was trying to make was that by comparing sensodyne rapid relief to regular toothpaste customers are more likely to evaluate the benefits of sensodyne rapid relief than they would without this comparison, most especially that the information is coming from a credible source. Also, the comparison suggests that customers should not be worried about switching from their regular toothpastes to sensodyne because it is the same as their regular toothpaste but with additional health benefits.


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