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.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

When your wife goes window shopping in a Volkswagen, don't worry.


This is an advert by Volkswagen illustrating how their consumers could benefit from their interchangeable car parts service. In particular, it highlighted the ease to drivers when their wives carelessly crash their cars, as they can replace only the broken parts instead of buying a brand new car.

The picture in the advert is a car with a broken front light, depicting it would be a pity if drivers had to either leave it unresolved or buy a brand new car instead. It seems that the 'least-of-evils' tactic was employed, as consumers were tricked to believe if they bought a car a brand other than Volkswagen, they will have no choice but to leave it in the broken state or pay a large sum of money to replace the whole car.

Nevertheless, the advert was sexist and suggested women are reckless drivers that tend to 'hit things'. It explicitly labelled women as stereotypical bad drivers - 'She can jab the hood. Graze the door. Or bump off the bumper.' and 'You can conveniently replace anything she uses to stop the car'. Therefore, even though this advert would attract male buyers interest, female drivers are likely to feel humiliated and provoked. This could eventually lead to the opposite effect the VW wants as this do not only reduce female drivers' likelihood to buy VW cars, wives of male drivers might discourage their husbands from buying VW cars. In addition, recent study by Chaudoir & Quinn (2010) revealed that sexually harassing remarks not only provoked feelings of anger and hostility from direct victims, it also had an impact on female bystander witnesses. Eventually, the heighten hostility levels, anger and fear towards men might ultimately cast a negative impact on men too.

Chaudoir, S.R., & Quinn, D.M. (2010). Bystander Sexism in the Inergroup Context: The Impact of Cat-calls on Women's Reactions Towards Men. Sex Roles, 62, 623-634.

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