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

Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Robert De Niro in one commercial

This is a trailer for an advert starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt and directed by Martin Scorsese advertising a casino in Macau.  The advert has cost $70 Million.

The persuasion technique at hand is an example of influence through the use of credible sources.  Celebrities are a credible source, especially when it comes to where to be seen, with who, and how to look.  So if they are endorsing a product/service/place then whatever they are endorsing must be very good.  They have a very high social status, especially high calibre celebrities like the ones seen in the video, making it more likely that people will be influenced by them, and potentially copy their behaviour (Lefkowitz, Blake & Mouton, 1955). 

Lefkowitz, Blake and Mouton, (1955), conducted a study where a high status (briefcase and businessman's attire), an intermediate status (neutral clothes), or a low status (greasy hair, unshaven, sloppy clothes) person crossed a road against the traffic signals guidance (i.e. crossed when they shouldn't).  Observers then counted how many people followed the person across the road, out of the people that were waiting to cross.  A control condition looked at how many people violated the signals without any manipulation (no confederate crossing).  The results are displayed in table 1. 

Table 1
Violations of Traffic signals
High status 
Intermediate status
Low status 

Their results show that more people violate the traffic signal when a person of higher status crossed before them, showing that people of a higher social status have a greater influence on people.


Lefkowitz, M., Blake, R. R., & Mouton, J. S. (1955) Status factors in pedestrian violation of traffic signals. Journal of Abmormal and Social Psychology, 51, 704-706

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