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, March 20, 2014

This persuasive argument is an advert from the TV show Community. In the ad, Jeff Winger, a lawyer, is seen to save the world, by taking down an evil robot who is trying to destroy the world. This creates an association, whereby the audience feel as though Jeff will be able to also take down the evil person who is trying to destroy them.  Associating someone with a positive event increases persuasion, as even a previously neutral person will be seen in a positive light after a positive event happens when the neutral person is nearby (Lott & Lott, 1960).

Fear is aroused in the beginning of this advert, as the world is being threated. However, this state of fear is quickly overcome with the help of Jeff. Fear that is immediately revoked creates an emotional state of confusion, and during this period you are more likely to comply with a request (Dolinski & Nawrat, 1998), which in this instance is to hire a lawyer.

The main character is of high status, as he is seen to be both a lawyer and a superhero. As a lawyer, he is also an expert, and so will be able to help you if you are having difficulties with another person. Maddux & Rogers (1980) showed that linking a message with a source high in expertise increases persuasion, and so after viewing this advert it is likely that you will choose the main star to be your lawyer.

Jeff Winger is physically attractive. Reingen & Kernan (1993) found that people are more likely to yield to the request of an attractive seller than an unattractive seller. This may be caused by a desire to be part of the same world as the attractive person. By hiring an attractive lawyer, you will be guaranteed to spend time alone with him.

In conclusion, this advert uses many persuasive techniques to increase the likelihood of Jeff Winger becoming your lawyer.  

Amy Melody


Dolinski, D., & Nawrat, R. (1998). “Fear-then-relief” procedure for producing compliance: Beware when the danger is over. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 34(1), 27-50.
Lott, B. E., & Lott, A. J. (1960). The formation of positive attitudes toward group members. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 61(2), 297.
Maddux, J. E., & Rogers, R. W. (1980). Effects of source expertness, physical attractiveness, and supporting arguments on persuasion: A case of brains over beauty. Journal of personality and social psychology, 39(2), 235.

Reingen, P. H., & Kernan, J. B. (1993). Social perception and interpersonal influence: Some consequences of the physical attractiveness stereotype in a personal selling setting. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2(1), 25-38.

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