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 22, 2014

SNICKERS: A Super Food?

It doesn’t take an English degree to notice the multiple spelling errors emblazoned across this Snickers advert. What may surprise you even more, is the fact that these misspellings were deliberately employed by the company to maximise their ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ campaign. Kindly, they seem to offer viewers of the advert the secret to spelling success – eating a Snickers…

The advert plays on a persuasive technique known as Association (Pratkanis, 2007). Hunger is commonly associated with poorer performance, due to lack of energy. Reversing this in the advert, eating a Snickers is manipulated to become positively associated with increased intelligence. Research shows that people are more susceptible to influence when they perceive it to be “inherently instrumental to the attainment of goals” (Kelman, 1961). Intelligence is a socially desirable trait and therefore being told that a food can improve this, is likely to lead to internalization and could increase a person’s perception of their self-efficacy, (Bandura, 1997). Once the advert is seen a couple of times, this idea is also reinforced and made stronger.

The phrase ‘Grab yourself a snickers fast’ imports a sense of urgency to the situation and heightens arousal, making viewers of the advert more impulsive. Lack of pre-meditation is associated with more impulsive behaviour, making viewers of the advert more likely to buy a Snickers’ without even contemplating whether it would be beneficial (Zermatten et al 2005).

Inviting people to like the brand on Facebook introduces another technique, playing on social consensus (Pratkanis, 2007). In visiting the page they will also see lots of other similar people who have liked it. Reingen (1982) showed targets a list of people who had complied with a simple request, before asking them if they would also comply. This simple method increased the number of donations for activities such as blood donations and charitable donations, showing the power of social desirability. Relating this back to Snickers, when a person sees a list of other people who like and actively support snickers, they feel they should do the same and they may adopt similar behaviours to be able to identify with the group – such as buying a snickers.

Whether or not a snickers could actually improve your spelling abilities or concentration, I for one, am willing to take the chance.

Jessica Brett.


Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191-215.

Pratkanis, A. R. (2007). Social influence analysis: An index of tactics. The science of social influence: Advances and future progress,17-82.

Reingen, P. H. (1982). Test of a list procedure for inducing compliance with a request to donate money.  Journal of Applied Psychology, 67, 110-118.

Kelman, H. C. (1961). "Processes of Opinion Change". Public Opinion Quarterly, 25, 57-78.

Zermatten, A., Van der Linden, M., d’Acremont, M., Jermann, F., & Bechara, A. (2005). Impulsivity and decision making. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 10, 647-650.


  1. Good Jessica, id also say that getting people to 'like' their facebook page would force them into a small commitment that would serve to influence later behaviour.


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