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, February 24, 2015


Nestled among the many persuasive techniques used in this video there is imagery. It is within us to feel as though a world without hate is impossible, or at least particularly implausible. The video is full of illustrations where hatred of particular minority groups has been battled. This allows viewers to remember that there have been instances where the hate in the world has been removed. Thus, allowing them to imagine a world where there is no hate, and therefore making them feel as though this is an issue that is worth fighting for as change can be made.

The effect of imagery as a persuasive technique was illustrated by Gregory, Cialdini and Carpenter (1982) who sent salespeople to sell Cable TV subscriptions by knocking door-to-door. A selection of potential customers were merely told the benefits of having Cable TV. Whilst another group of potential customers were first asked to ‘take a moment and imagine how cable television will provide you with broader entertainment’. Their results showed that those who were asked to imagine the benefits of having cable TV were two and a half times more likely to buy a subscription from the door-to-door salespeople for cable TV than were those who were simply told the benefits. This is illustrated in Figure 1. This shows that imagining the benefits of a product yourself is more persuasive than being told them by somebody else.

Figure 1: Percentage of participants who purchased a Cable TV subscription after either hearing the information about the benefits of cable TV or imagining the benefits of cable TV themselves.

In the case of the ADL persuasive video, they are providing viewers with examples of where hatred in the world has been reformed. This, in turn, gets viewers to imagine a world without hatred and thus should increase the likelihood that they want to do something to change the world to make it less hate-filled themselves. They can then do this by visiting the ADL website and getting involved.

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, 89-99.

Danielle Huskinson

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