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.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Stop Smoking

This 2012 NHS anti-smoking advert uses a vivid appeal that is emotionally compelling to try and provoke its audience into changing.  In this example, the message is directed towards smokers. 

The main emotion that is elicited whilst watching this advert is fear, particularly fear towards personal health.  The message and health risk associated with smoking a cigarette is shown as being serious as well as likely to happen.  However, this advert finishes with an efficacy message that demonstrates to the audience a practical solution in protecting themselves against this cancerous mutation.

Overall evidence in support of such an advert is from a meta-analysis by Witte and Allen (2000).  In their study, papers were only included if they had manipulated fear or threat in their message.  Experimenters then coded each relevant paper in terms of sample size, topic and various effects sizes (message effect, fear effect and interaction effects). 
Their results demonstrated that fear appeals were reliable motivators for bringing about attitude change and alterations to intentions.  This was particularly true when such messages were accompanied with efficacy messages allowing the audience to believe they were able to avoid this threat to their health. 

Witte, K., & Allen, M. (2000). A Meta-Analysis of Fear Appeals: Implications for Effective Public Health Campaigns. Health Education & Behavior, 27, 591-615.

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