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, February 6, 2014




Why you should watch National Geographic 


The National Geographic Channel’s advertisements aims to encourage people to watch their channel in order to gain knowledge and get most out of their lives. The ad lists a series of eye-catching facts about things occurring in humans’ life-span. The previous writer analysed it with the ‘negativity effect’ by saying the statement ‘you only have on fifth of your life actually to live’ was to sounds shocking to its audience, and therefore effectively persuade them to watch National Geographic Channel. 

On top of the previously stated underlying principle, the advertisement also creates a sense of scarcity, more specifically, scarcity of time. The scarcity rule states that an item becomes decidedly more attractive if it is becoming less available. By stating ‘you only have on fifth of your life actually to live’, it makes its audience feel that the program provided by National Geographic is less available, and there is limited time to enjoying them. This can be explain by Brehm’s theory of psychological reactance, as our freedoms are limited or threatened, we tend to want the item significantly more than before. The statement in the advertisement act as a restriction being put on its audience. 

Many empirical researches have been done on the scarcity theory. Brehm and Weintraub did a study on two groups of two-year old boys. One group of them saw two equally attractive toys separated by a piece of glass that they could reach over, the other group saw the toy separated by a larger piece of glass that would obstruct their attempts. The result showed that boys in the first group showed no special preference while the second group got to the restricted toy three times faster than those in group 1. 


Brehm, S. S. & Weintraub, M. (1977). Physical barriers and psychological reactance: Two-year-old’s response to threats of freedom. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 830-836. 



Pratkanis, A. R. (Ed.). (2007). Social influence analysis: An index of tactics. The Science of Social Influence: Advances and future progress. New York: Psychology Press

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