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.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Postcode Lottery




These are two of many short adverts for the postcode lottery. The primary persuasive technique used here is simply multiple sources. The short clips show multiple winners of the postcode lottery while receiving their prizes, as well as interviews with them describing their feelings towards the postcode lottery. These are all obviously very positive reactions from numerous people, and the same evidence is recreated over and over again showing different winners in a continuous stream of these adverts. The evidence of such positive outcomes from buying the postcode lottery tickets from just one person is tempting as it is. However the persuasive influence of the growing numbers of sources showing the same outcome is very powerful. The effects of multiple sources on persuasion compared to just one source was seen in an experiment by Harkins and Petty (1981) where using three different speakers for three arguements was more effective than using just one speaker to deliver those same three arguements. Lee & Nass (2004) replicated those results using synthetic voices. These experiments showed that increasing the number of sources, increased the amount that the recipients of the arguement thought about them. This, when the arguements are strong, increases persuasion. In this case, the evidence of the large amounts of money and other prizes are very strong and very compelling.

Another persuasive technique in these adverts, seen in the clips from winners' interviews is social reinforcement. The first clip shows a women describing how she "feels like the luckiest person alive". The second clip shows a women stating "dreams do happen". These statements act as verbal reinforcements of a positive attitude towards the postcode lottery, further influencing the public watching the adverts. Insko (1965) carried out an experiment where students taking a survey about a campus aloha week were positively reinforced with "good" for either agreeing or disagreeing with the statements on the survey. A week later, Insko found that those reinforced with "good" for agreeing with the statements about aloha week gave better evaluations for it than those who were reinforced for disagreeing with the statements.

A third technique which comes as a side effect of showing multiple sources in these clips is called social modelling. The presence of the winners on the clips provides a model or social proof for viewers that the action of buying the postcode lottery tickets is a positive one. Bandura and Menlove (1968) found that children with a fear of dogs reduced their avoidance and discomfort around dogs when they saw a social model or proof interacting calmly or joyfully with a dog. In other words, when the viewers observe the social models (lottery winners) recieving their prizes they are more likely to buy a ticket themselves.

These three key persuasive techniques are used by many to influence our decisions every day, and we tend not to even notice they are being used against us. Their powerful persuasive ability for the postcode lottery specifically is seen by the continued release of winners commercials and growing following on social media sites such as youtube.

Shaneel Karia

Bandura, A., & Menlove, F. L. (1968). Factors determining vicarious extinction of avoidance behavior through symbolic modeling. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology8(2p1), 99.


Harkins, S. G., & Petty, R. E. (1981). The Multiple Source Effect in Persuasion The Effects of Distraction. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin7(4), 627-635.


Insko, C. A. (1965). Verbal reinforcement of attitude. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology2(4), 621.


Lee, K. M., & Nass, C. (2004). The multiple source effect and synthesized speech: Doubly disembodied language as a conceptual framework. Human Communication Research30(2), 182-207.

1 comment:

  1. Good, I'd say the ad used similarity as well i.e. those people who won are just like us

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