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


For the final blog post, I will be writing about a talk video that I came across a while ago. Jamie Oliver, a well-know chef, gave a talk about the dangers of current school food and children’s knowledge regarding nutrition during a TED Award event. Jamie went on showing the cumulative amounts of sugar in a child’s carton of milk provided by one school cafeteria. He started with the amount that a child would consume in a day – 8 teaspoons in a carton of flavoured sweetened milk provided twice a day. Then, he went on showing the amount of sugar in a week, and later on, in 5 years. The initial did not seem to matter as much, however as it adds up, it is well shocking as to how much sugar these children have consumed over a longer term. Just on milk.

The persuasive technique that he used could be regarded as an interaction between contrast and negativity effects. Bohner, Ruder, and Erb (2002) found that this contrast effect is significant provided the presenter has an expertise in the field. In addition, Barton, Castillo & Petrie (2012) suggested that negativity effect is a very effective technique in persuasion, where it has been used in political campaigns against opposition candidates. Also as reported by Reinhert and Feeley (2007), using statistics rather than a simple narrative was also more persuasive in delivering talks – a common technique used in speech, also applied here.

As Jamie pointed out in his talk, cases of diabetes and other lifestyle diseases at the moment are one of the highest. Yet these are preventable problems certainly in this age of technological advancement.

Nadhir Anuar

Bohner, G., Ruder, M., & Erb, H. P. (2002). When expertise backfires: Contrast and assimilation effects in persuasion. British Journal of Social Psychology, 41(4), 495-519.

Barton, J., Castillo, M., & Petrie, R. (2012). Going Negative: The Persuasive Effect of Tone and Information on Campaign Fundraising and Voter Turnout (No. 1037).

Reinhart, A. M. (2006). Comparing the persuasive effects of narrative versus statistical messages: A meta-analytic review. (Order No. 3213634, State University of New York at Buffalo). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 103-103 p.

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