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.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Will you?

The spring 2015 ‘Will You?’ advertising campaign created by Tiffany & Co, persuades people to buy Tiffany jewellery, specifically engagement rings and wedding bands.

The campaign looks at couples from a modern perspective, and acknowledges that true love can exist in various forms. This is shown in how the campaign features photographs of a wide spectrum of couples. This includes a couple who have had a child out of wedlock, and for the first time to be featured in a Tiffany’s campaign; a same-sex couple (who are a genuine couple by the way, although let’s face it, they might as well be models).

The campaign demonstrates how well Tiffany & Co has used the persuasive technique of social consensus. This is when everyone seems to support a certain viewpoint, or is doing the same thing, and we tend to agree with their views and do what they are doing (Pratkanis, 2007).

A study by Reingen (1982) tested the effects of social consensus, by investigating if a compliance technique- showing that others have complied with a response- makes others more likely to comply too. In this study, 120 University students who were walking along University corridors, were approached by an experimenter. The experimenter introduced themselves as a representative of the charity Heart Association, and asked subjects either one of two things. Subjects were either directly asked to donate money to the Heart Association, or by first being presented with a list of 8 fictitious names of other people who had donated earlier, before being asked to donate. Results are depicted in the table below. 

Number of people who complied 
Table 1: Number of people who did or did not comply with the request of being asked to donate money to the Heart Association, after either being directly asked for a donation, or by first being shown a list of previous donators before being asked to donate.

As Table 1 shows, subjects who were first shown a list of previous compliers before being asked to donate, were more likely to say yes and donate themselves, than those who were only asked to donate. No significant differences were found in the amount of money donated by each condition. This reveals that showing people that others have previously complied with a request, and are in support of donating, increases the likelihood that these people will comply and donate as well.

Relating this back to the Tiffany & Co ad, when a person is exposed to photographs of lots of couples who like, and have bought Tiffany & Co wedding bands, they feel that they should do the same, as they believe that that is what everyone is doing. Therefore, the ad demonstrates that social consensus can be used to effectively persuade others to comply with the ad message.


Pratkanis, A. R. (2007). The science of social influence: Advances and future progress. Hove: Psychology Press.

Reingen, P. H. (1982). Test of a List Procedure for Inducing Compliance With a Request to Donate Money. Journal of Applied Psychology, 67, 110-118.

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