Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills 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

Do Something Amazing, Give Blood


This is one of the many images that appear on the NHS Blood Donation Facebook page, or as posters on walls, or as letters through the post. This particular image demonstrates the use of social modelling as a persuasive technique. Here is an ordinary man performing the desired behaviour – donating blood – showing the audience that this is an acceptable behaviour which we can replicate. He even looks happy about it, so donating blood can’t be all that bad.

Rushton and Campbell (1977) investigated the use of a social model to persuade people to volunteer to donate blood. This study involved participants meeting the model under the ruse of a fake experiment. Subsequently, both the participant and the model left the experiment room towards the exit, passing a blood donation stand on their way. The blood donation representative – who was another confederate of the experiment – first asked the model if they were willing to donate blood. After the model agreed, they were approached by a friend – also a confederate – who either praised the model’s willingness to volunteer (positive vicarious reinforcement), disapproved of the volunteering (vicarious punishment), or made no reference to the blood donation (neutral vicarious reinforcement). Then the model was whisked away to fill out forms, and the donation representative asked the participant the same question – would they be willing to donate blood? In the control condition, the participant was asked first while the model began a conversation with a nearby associate.



Although there was no significant difference between the volunteering rates in the three modelling conditions, there was an important difference between the model and no-model conditions. No matter what the witnessed outcome was, the participants were more likely to volunteer to donate blood if they had seen the model do so before them. After seeing a model, approximately 67% of participants volunteered, while only 25% did in the no-model condition.

Clearly, the demonstration of a behaviour is enough to make us want to perform that behaviour, regardless of the consequences. And the man in this image is showing us exactly what to do – have a needle stuck in your arm and look happy about it! Also, to do something amazing and save lives.


Rushton, J. P., & Campbell, A. C. (1977). Modeling, vicarious reinforcement and extraversion on blood donating in adults: Immediate and long-term effects. European Journal of Social Psychology, 7, 297-306.

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