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 29, 2015

Are you willing to help others by donations?

This is an advert about the British Red Cross. In the video, a brief introduction about British Red Cross is provided. After that, stories of 4 people who had been joining the British Red Cross were presented. Their stories were basically about their past experiences of being helped by the British Red Cross. Also, they talked about their feelings when the British Red Cross helped them out. Moreover, they mentioned how they could help others by joining British Red Cross. By showing the 4 real cases in the video, British Red Cross demonstrated that they could really help others. Then, people would be more persuaded to make donations.

Apparently, this advert has used the persuasive technique, storytelling. A story provides a causal structure to facts and evidence. Sensible stories could guide thoughts and direct choices about story-related decisions. Slusher and Anderson (1996) had done a research on change of beliefs by using causal arguments. In their experiment, they presented public health message to the participants. The message content was simply about AIDS is not transmitted by causal contact. Before looking at the message, the participants were required to complete a belief scale about whether they agreed that AIDS is not transmitted by causal contact.

After that, different participants were allocated to different message conditions randomly. There were 3 different message conditions: causal, non-causal and composite condition. For causal condition, the message presented would explain why AIDS is not transmitted by causal contact. For non-causal condition, the message would provide some statistical evidence to support that AIDS is not transmitted by causal contact. For composite condition, it would contain both arguments. At last, participants had to fill in the evaluation form which consisted of 9- point scale. They had to rate how convincing the evidence was.

The result showed that participants were more likely to change their beliefs with the presence of causal evidence. With the presence of both causal and non-causal evidence, participants were less likely to change their beliefs compared to the presence with causal evidence only. This study showed that causal arguments are more effective in changing people’s beliefs and the British Red Cross advertisement had applied the result of the findings by using the storytelling technique.


Slusher, M.P., & Anderson, C.A. (1996). Using causal persuasive arguments to change beliefs and teach new information: The mediating role of explanation availability and evaluation bias in the acceptance of knowledge. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88, 110-122. 

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