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.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

That was then... This is now!

The above video is an advert for the Now TV Box, which provides television channels and on demand shows and films. The advert depicts the story of a family’s struggle to find a TV to provide good entertainment, alternating between clips of them using a television set they first purchased and clips of them with a new Now TV box. A voiceover says “that was then” when the family are shown with the old TV, and “this is now” when they are using the Now TV Box. The family are shown looking disappointed and disgruntled with the old TV, and happy and content with the Now TV Box. 

The scenario in this advert prompts viewers to imagine how much more pleased their own family would be if they purchased a Now TV Box compared to with a standard television set. This is known as the ‘imagery sells’ technique. It has been implemented in the advert by creating an imaginary scenario with a positive experience and benefits of having the product (the family having fun with their Now TV box, which is shown to be cheaper and easier to use than their old TV) on behalf of the viewer. 

Evidence for the success of this technique can be seen in a study by Gregory, Cialdini and Carpenter (1982). Researchers set out to test whether encouraging participants to imagine a situation would influence their subsequent behaviour. Researchers went door-to-door in a neighbourhood and attempted to convince participants to return a postcard for more information about a cable TV service, accept a free week long trial or agree to subscribe to the service.

Results show that participants in the imagination condition (prompted to imagine themselves with the experience and benefits of the cable service) were more likely than those in the information condition (simply provided with information about the service) to accept a free week of cable or to subscribe to the cable service (24.3% and 27.9% more likely, respectively). The most significant difference between conditions is seen in the subscription behaviour (p < .01). There was no significant difference between conditions for the returning postcard condition. These findings suggest that creating imagery of a situation is indeed more likely to successfully influence behaviour towards adopting said situation. The results are illustrated in the figure below:

Gregory, W. L., Cialdini, R. B., & Carpenter, K. M. (1982). Self-relevant scenarios as mediators of likelihood estimates and compliance: Does imagining make it so?. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43(1), 89.

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