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.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Transgender Rights in Washington, D. C.

The above is one of five campaign advertisements which were posted in Washington, D.C., in 2012. The focus of the advertisements is to increase awareness and understanding of the transgender communities to reduce discrimination, by photographing and quoting members who identify as transgendered.
The ads used methods to increase likeability and positive behaviour towards those that identify as transgendered. It is known that both attractiveness and similarity do increase likeability (Burger et al., 2004; Olson & Marshuetz, 2005). This is done by both quoting the individual about their hobbies, and being photographed in attractive attire. The quotation allows members of the general public to be able to create a link between themselves, and the individual in the advert, because chances are they will relate to at least one hobby. The individuals in the adverts are also wearing clothing to make them more attractive, because it is known that we will attribute positive traits to those individuals who are deemed attractive. This is known as the halo effect, where even though we may not know the individual we will assume that they are kind, friendly individuals (Langlois et al, 2000).
By using actual members of the transgendered community, they are no longer anonymous, and we can attribute personal traits to a specific individual.  This increases our understanding, and knowledge of the individual, and may reduce worries that people may hold, because of the increased contact (Monahan, Murphy, & Zajonc, 2000) to members of the transgendered community.
The second important part of the advert includes two very important statements. The first states that the individuals ask for the general public to treat them with the same respect that they would give anyone else. This allows for a contrast to occur in the public’s mind about how they may treat an individual who identifies as transgendered or a cisgendered. Knowing that we should treat people with respect, the general public might then apply this to how they should treat transgendered individuals. By treating them with disrespect and with anger, we are most likely breaking moral codes, this can create a state of dissonance and will cause discomfort (Festinger, 1957). Because we want to avoid this discomfort we will avoid the behaviour that can trigger this. To further drive home the message that discrimination towards transgendered individuals is wrong, the advert states that “discrimination based on gender identity and expression is illegal in the District of Columbia”. This will further reduce the possibilities of aggressive behaviour, towards those in the transgendered community.
Overall, this advert uses great techniques to increase the likability and understanding towards the transgendered community. Hopefully, with increased attention and understanding, discrimination towards the transgendered community will decrease, making life a lot safer.

Burger, J. M., Messian, N., Patel, S., del Prado, A., & Anderson, C. (2004). What a coincidence! The effects of incidental similarity on compliance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin , 30, 35-43.
Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Langlois, J. H., Kalakanis, L., Rubenstein, A. J., Larson, A., Hallam, M., & Smoot, M. (2000). Maxims or myths of beuty? A meta-analytic and theoretical review. Psychological Bulletin , 126, 390-493.
Monahan, J. L., Murphy, S. T., & Zajonc, R. B. (2000). Subliminal mere exposure: Specific, general, and diffuse effects. Psychological Science , 11, 462-466.
Olson, I. R., & Marshuetz, C. (2005). Facial attractiveness is appraised in a glance. Emotion , 5, 498-502.
 Ariadna Rodriguez Barclay

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