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, March 10, 2013

SU Manifesto

This is Aaron Bowater’s manifesto video for this year’s student union elections at Warwick University. This is a very simple, yet persuasive clip and he adopts a variety of persuasive techniques.

Firstly he starts with his key word for his campaign “hope”. This captures the audience’s attention. By using repetition of the key words “Hope” and “dreams” Aaron Bowater keeps reminding the audience of what they could achieve, if they elected him. McCullough and Ostrom (1974) showed that by repeatedly exposing the audience to the same advert, liking for the product increased. This could be due to the product seeming more familiar, and therefore perceived as more likeable. Similarly he also associates hope with beautiful, and as we know people are persuaded by thinks that are beautiful and attractive. Association is a good persuasive technique, for instance the probability of liking a neutral person is increased when they are associated with a positive reward (Lott and Lott, 1960).  

What Aaron Bowater also does is use a comparison to famous individuals such as Martin Luther King and the Suffragettes. Using this high-status-admirer altercast, Aaron Bowater directly includes the audience, as he says “like them, we take up the challenge…” this will persuade the audience to vote for this candidate, as people admire and desire to be like the high-status people mentioned. Weick, Gilfillan and Keith (1973) showed the effect of high-status admirer altercast, by showing that an orchestra make fewer errors when playing music by a high-status composer, compared to a composer with lower status.

Similarly, Aaron Bowater was, for the second year running, leading a joke campaign. He adopts a lot of persuasive tactics but, if anything, he is remembered and is very persuasive through the use of humour. As after linking the audience to Martin Luther King, no-one expects him to talk about pasties and a monorail. Humour has been seen to be a very effective persuasive technique. Duncan, Nelson & Frontczak (1984) have shown that humour, especially a one-line joke increases message comprehension and aids information processing, leading to a more memorable and persuasive advert.

Duncan, C. P., Nelson, K., & Frontczak, N. (1984). The effect of humour on advertising comprehension. Advances in consumer research, 11, 432-437.
Lott, B., & Lott, A. (1960). The formation of positive attitudes towards group members. Journal of abnormal and social psychology, 61, 297-300.
McCullough, J. L., & Ostrom, T. M. (1974). Repetition of Highly Similar Messages and Attitude Change. Journal of Applied Psychology, 59,395-397.
Weick, K. E., Gilfillan, D. P., & Keith, T.A. (1973). The effect of composer credibility on orchestra performance. Sociometry, 36, 435-465.


  1. Sorry, feel the need to comment. His campaign despite being a joke one has clearly persuaded people to vote for him. The elections results placed him behind the winner Ben Sundell, the difference being only a few hundred votes.

  2. I totally agree. I was suggesting that as well as other persuasive techniques, he has used humour as another persuasive technique. I think he was very persuasive and deserved to be placed 2nd.


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