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.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Look Up

This clip is an example of social modelling. This is a simple tactic used to make individuals more likely to demonstrate a particular behaviour. Here the aim is to make more people perform the act of putting down their phones/gadgets and ‘look up’. Several features of the clip aid this social modelling, for example the repeated display of others performing the desired action of turning off their gadgets (see 2:36 & 4:33).

A study by Hornstein, Fisch and Holmes (1968) found that similarity may also play a role in how effective the social modelling tactic is in increasing the likelihood of a behaviour. They found that if the social model was similar to the individual, a positive (or neutral) message would increase the amount of individuals who performed the target behaviour (see Table 2). In the experiment, a letter was left alongside a wallet containing various information and money. The letter was written by someone who had meant to return the wallet in the envelope. The letter’s message was either positive, negative or neutral. A positive message said it was no trouble to return the wallet and how nice it was to help others. The negative message described it as an inconvenience and an annoyance, whilst the neutral message added no further feelings to the introductory paragraph. The number of wallets that were returned to the address on the envelope were recorded, and their wholeness (or lack of money) noted. The model was made to be dissimilar by writing as a visitor from another country.


The table shows the results from the experiment. We can see that a similar model with a positive message had a higher response rate (shown by returning the envelope) than when a negative message was used or a dissimilar model was used. So for example, if the video used a speaker who was very different to the listener and also used more scare tactics or another negative message it may have been less persuasive.

We can see that these results may explain why this video is so persuasive. In this clip we can see a 'similar model' as the speaker (and actors) are seen as similar to us through their use of technology and also in their admission to performing the unwanted behaviour, ‘I am guilty too’. The potential for love is used as the positive message whereby switching off your phone (the target behaviour) may lead you to meet someone who you then forge a life with. Positive phrasing is seen with ‘just one connection is all it can take’ making it sound easy for these positive things to happen to you if you put down your phone. Alongside this the clip emphasises how in this new, happier life we won’t want to use our phones, we will ‘want to share this moment with just this one’ and ‘take in all you made, just by giving life attention’.

With positive messages and a social model who is similar to the viewer, this clips influences us into believing we should put down our phones and look up, as who knows what opportunities we could be missing.

Gary Turk. (2014, April 25). Look up. Retrieved from 

Hornstein, H. A., Fisch, E., & Holmes, M. (1968). Influence of a model's feeling about his behavior and his relevance as a comparison other on observers' helping behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 10, 222-226. 

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