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.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Celebrities want you to ban ‘bossy’

Last year 'Lean In' launched the #banbossy campaign, which promotes female empowerment and aims to raise female self esteem from an early age. The campaign asks people to stop describing females as ‘bossy’ and instead encourages girls to take leadership positions.

The video includes famous and successful women (and men), to endorse the campaign. Using celebrities and other high-status individuals to persuade people, is a technique know as “high-status admirer altercast” (Pratkanis, 2007). The principle is based on the idea that individuals at the top of the status hierarchy, have a great degree of influence. Such individuals are viewed as admirable and lower-status people may wish to imitate or be similar to the high-status individual.  At the end of the video, Beyonce a highly successful celebrity states “ I’m not bossy, I’m the boss”. This signals to the audience that they too can be successful if they actively pursue leadership roles.

Fig 1. Mean ratings for celebrity and non-celebrity conditions.

Atkin and Block (1983) investigated the role of celebrity endorsement on alcohol advertisements. Using both young and older audiences, alcohol advertisements were provided by either a celebrity or non-celebrity source. After this, participants were asked to rate the advertisements through a questionnaire measuring 18 variables.Results found that celebrities were rated higher than non-celebrities on 15 out of the 18 scales. This indicates that celebrity endorsement can be an effective method of endorsement.


Atkin, C. and Block, M. (1983). Effectiveness of celebrity endorsers. Journal of Advertising Research, 23, 57-61.

Pratkanis, A.R. (2007). Social influence analysis: An index of tactics. The science of social influence: Advances and future progress, 30-33.

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