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.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Red Hot and Saleable ?







The advertisement above is a classic example of how physical attractiveness is used to entice the audience and increase sales of a product. In this particular case, the attractiveness of the Virgin Atlantic flight crew has been used to persuade customers to buy their tickets. They have used beautiful models in glamourous clothes to fulfill their purpose. There seems to be a spotlight following this group throughout the video which gives them a celebrity- like attribution. The beauty and allure of this group cause people to drop phones, stop reading, stop gaming and spill food. There is also an element of flirting with the group and a look of envy from other flight crew members. An actual model gets ignored to make room for the crew. The advertisement ends with a customer stating that he needs to get a new ticket. This is the primary goal of such advertisements - selling their products. This is an example of physically attractive - admirer altercast. 

This phenomenon was seen in the study by Reingen and Kernan in 1993. They assessed the effects of physical attractiveness stereotype in the selling context. They conducted three experiments and found the following:
a) Physically attractive salespersons seem to have more favorable selling skills as compared to their unattractive salespersons.
b) Customers treat attractive sellers more cordially and are more likely to listen to their requests than unattractive salespersons.
c) Attractive persons induce a higher compliance rate as compared to unattractive persons. 

We can specifically look at their first experiment which investigated whether physically attractive salespersons are seen as more favorable as compared to unattractive ones on their selling effectiveness. The table below shows the participants recording of their impressions of the photograph show on the impression formation questionnaire with a 7-point attractive-unattractive scale. It was found that there was a significant main effect for attractiveness of stimulus persons, F(1,348) = 17.38, p < .001. It was therefore found that physically attractive people are seen as more favorable on selling effectiveness traits than physically unattractive people. 


The attractiveness manipulation in this experiment was effective and supported the assumption that physical attractiveness is a key factor while selling products. The attractive crew in the virgin atlantic advertisement were selling the airline and its credibility by using their physical attributes. These physical attributes automatically suggested better personality traits, thus better service from the airline company.


Reingen, P.H., & Kernan, J.B. (1993). Social perception and interpersonal influence: Some consequences of the physical attractiveness stereotype in a personal selling setting. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2, 25-38.



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