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 22, 2015

Listening to the clicks

In 2005, one of the largest ever anti-poverty movements occurred under the name “Make Poverty History”. Through the publicity of a white wristband, Live8 and marches, the movement set out a series of targets which would aid 3rd world countries. These targets included trade justice, clearing the debt of poorer countries and changing the priorities of the European Presidency. In 2001 leading countries aimed to halve world poverty by 2015, however by 2005 the world was “failing dismally” with those targets.

This movement aimed to use the voices of the many to change the minds of the powerful few. One of the major campaigns to get people on board was the click video as seen above. Here, a series of headline celebrities from industries such as film, fashion and music combine. Their message of a click every three seconds highlights the death rates as a result of poverty. The combination of multiple sources of celebrity endorsement is designed to strengthen the argument that change needs to occur.

Experimental evidence has shown increasing the number of sources leads to an increased consideration of an argument (Lee & Nass, 2004). In this study, participants were provided with either one synthetic voice providing five positive reviews on three books, or five synthetic voices providing one positive review each on the same three books. They hypothesised: (1) Social presence would be stronger with more voices, (2) Participants would evaluate a book more positively when they hear multiple positive reviews, (3) Multiple sources create the idea that the view is public opinion and (4) A website which cites multiple sources for reviews will be rated more credible.

A questionnaire using a ten point scale was used to gauge each of these dependent variables. The results are seen in Table 1.

Table 1. Attitude scale results after one and multiple voice reviews.

The results show the multiple synthetic voices created an increased feeling of social presence. Crucially, this presence resulted in a significantly more positive personal opinion and higher assessment of public opinion. Website credibility showed a statistically weak increase with multiple voices.

The use of multiple celebrity endorsement therefore benefits the strength of the Make Poverty History campaign. These multiple sources are likely to cause an increase in message consideration, raising the chance of the message receiver joining the movement.

Lee, K.M., & Nass, C. (2004). The multiple source effect and synthesized speech: Doubly-disembodied language as a conceptual framework. Human Communication Research, 30, 182-207.

Tom Alington

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