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

Human Trafficking




This advertisement was created to highlight the devastating lives of victims of human trafficking. Human trafficking is the illegal movement of people, typically for forced labour or sexual exploitation.

The persuasive tactic used in this advertisement is called guilt sells. This is when one feels responsible for the wrongdoing as the person feels guilty, and it encourages them to adapt their behaviour to overcome their unpleasant feeling. Guilt would induce a desire for the person to make restitution and to repair their self-image. They don’t want to feel like they’re not doing anything about the issue of human trafficking. When people see a girl crying in the video, they would feel guilty, and feel upset for them. When the video emphasises that it could happen to any kids that we know – it becomes more personal to the audience, making them feel even guiltier that they’re not doing anything about it. In a study by Freedman, Wallington, Sue and Bless (1967), they manipulated half the participants to feel guilty and the other half were controls. They found that compliance was more likely if the participants feel guilty. As seen in table 1, 20 out of 31 subjects complied when they were guilty, whilst only 11 complied when they were not guilty. This was a significant difference, therefor suggesting that those who are guilty are more likely to comply. Relating it back to the advertisement, this further suggests that when the special FBI agent says “Give them what they need to go from being victims to survivors”, the audience is more likely to accept the request, in order to alleviate their unpleasant feelings of guilt. 



A second persuasive technique is used, called Expert unknowing public altercast. They provide clips of a retired FBI Special agent that speaks of the frequency and detrimental effects that human trafficking has towards children in the society. When an expert speaks and talks about it, the audience feels like they’re being educated, and would therefore listen to whatever the expert has to say on the topic, which in this case is human trafficking. Previous research has found that by linking an expert to a message, the message that they’re sending through is more persuasive and effective (Hovland et al., 1953).

Freedman, J. L., Wallington, S. A., & Bless, E. (1967). Compliance without pressure: The effect of guilt. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 7, 117-124.

Hovland, C. I., Janis, I. L., & Kelley, H. H. (1953). Communication and persuasion. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.


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