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.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Claim Your Humanity

Just before the film ‘Fight Club’ starts on the dvd there is a very brief message from the character Tyler Durden. This appears for only a few frames after the copyright warning and in it, ‘Tyler’ attempts to persuade the viewer to really ‘live’ and not become complacent. His warning starts with a lot of rhetorical questions, taunting the viewer. It has been shown that rhetorical questions motivate more intensive processing of message content, and this increased concentration on the message increases it’s persuasiveness (Burnkrant & Howard, 1984). Furthermore the taunting of the viewer actually increases the persuasiveness even more through a technique called Jeer Pressure (Steele, 1975). Tyler telling us how we are wasting our lives and how pathetic we are increases our receptiveness to his message, and for the final blow Tyler himself (played by Brad Pitt) is a good looking guy and we are more likely to comply with attractive people, for example Chaiken found attractive people make better attitude change agents. There are many levels of irony involved in me analysing this message and then you reading about it, but it’s fine because no one reads these. So after reading these words you’ve wasted more seconds of your life and have been told what to think even more. So maybe you should start a fight. Claim your humanity. Yeah. Burnkrant, R. E., & Howard, D. J. (1984). Effects of the use of introductory rhetorical questions versus statements on information processing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47(6), 1218. Chaiken, S. (1979). Communicator physical attractiveness and persuasion. Journal of Personality and social Psychology, 37(8), 1387. Steele, C. M. (1975). Name-calling and compliance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 31(2), 361.

Toby Watson

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