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.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

@Samsung: Bend to those who are worthy #bendgate

Last October, the anticipated iPhone 6 was released and with it came allegations of it bending in the pockets of some customers. With people complaining through twitter, the hashtag '#bendgate' started to trend and this meant people from all over the world tweeted negative and some funny experiences with the new iPhone.  Of course, it did not take long for the rivals of Apple to take advantage of this case.Samsung, known as one of Apple’s stronger rivals, took this technological fiasco, added Innuendo and advertised their new Galaxy Note 3. An Innuendo is an often subtle insinuation of a fact, one that especially concerns character or reputation. The above image, clearly shows Samsung mocking the reputation of the iPhone 6, by making it ‘bend’ down to the new Samsung phone; subsequently, showing the superiority of its own brand. While the advert contains no specific information about the phones new features, it merely sets up expectations for the phone by noting iPhone 6’s fault.

Wegner, Wenzlaff, Kerker & Beattie (1981) provided evidence for the innuendo effect in the political domain, showing that a possible fault of a candidate can result in negative perceptions. In this study 48 subjects were exposed to four headlines about political candidates and then were asked to indicate their impressions of each candidate on an evaluative rating scale. Subjects were assembled into small groups to consider headlines about fictitious city council candidates. One headline appeared as a direct incriminating assertion (e.g., “Bob Talbert Linked with Mafia”), another took form of a question (e.g. “Is Karen Downing Associated with fraud?”), the third was phrased as denial (e.g., “Andrew Winters Bot connected to Bank Embezzlement”) and the fourth was a neutral headline for the control group. Once subjects had completed looking at the headlines, they were instructed to report their impressions of each candidate on series of 7-point bipolar adjective scales.

Table 1. Mean results of negativity for each of the four conditions used in the study

The results as seen in Table 1, shows that the headline formed as an incriminating assertion produced impressions significantly more negative than those produced by the control headline. Furthermore, questions showed a high level of negativity essentially equal to that of assertions and significantly greater than controls and denial headlines resulted in a level of negativity that did not differ significantly from the control group. These findings clearly illustrate the innuendo effect, showing that a simple questioning of a candidates connection with a possible wrongdoing can have damaging effects on the candidate’s public image.

Wegner, D.M., Wenzlaff, R., Kerker, R.M., & Beattie, A.E. (1981). Incrimination through innuendo: Can media questions become public answers? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40, 822-832.

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