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 25, 2015

Thomas Cook: Imagery Sells


This clip is advertising holidays with Thomas Cook, a company which offers all kinds of holidays for all kinds of people, and this is what the advert is trying to convey. It shows clips of many different people - families, couples and people of many different ages all enjoying themselves on a Thomas Cook holiday. It suggests that on a Thomas Cook holiday you will have a “real good time”, and is shot from the point of view of the customer, showing the different exciting activities available whether you want to relax, play sports, go for a night out or try new food.  

The advert utilizes the “imagery sells” persuasion technique whereby imagining yourself carrying out an action increases the probability that that action will in fact be carried out. The advert leads viewers to imagine themselves with their family or their partner on a Thomas Cook holiday and creates an image in their head of themselves relaxing and having fun on that holiday. The advert attempts, through the use of the imagery sells technique, to lead viewers to imagine the action of going on a Thomas Cook holiday and thereby increase the probability that the viewer will in fact book a holiday with Thomas Cook.

The effectiveness of the imagery sells technique has been shown through research such as that of Gregory, Cialdini and Carpenter (1982). In this study a confederate “student researcher” contacted people door-to-door, supposedly carrying out a survey of attitudes towards cable TV. The participant was first read a description of cable TV. In the control condition, participants were merely given information on the features and benefits of cable TV, however in the experimental condition, participants were told to imagine what it would be like to have cable TV themselves, and the benefits they would experience. They were then asked to complete a questionnaire regarding their views towards cable TV and were given a postcard which they could use to request further information about cable TV. Participants were also offered a week of free cable TV service and the chance to subscribe for cable TV. The table below shows the results:




There were no differences between the information and imagination condition regarding the returning of the postcard for further information. However, participants in the imagination condition were significantly more likely to accept the free week of cable TV, and were significantly more likely to subscribe for cable TV than were the information condition participants. This shows that imagining had an influential effect on behaviour, increasing the probability of the imagined event actually occurring (purchasing of the cable TV service).

This shows how the above advert has attempted to use the imagery sells technique, to increase the probability of the imagined event actually occurring, meaning that people will be more likely to book a holiday with Thomas Cook.



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), 89-99. 




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