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, February 11, 2015

It doesn't take a genius..

During the hype of the iPhone 5 release Samsung tried to gain some of the limelight in releasing the above advert. They provided a long list of features the Samsung Galaxy S III had and a few of the features the new iPhone 5 would have. However, they carefully missed out a whole heap of features the new apple product also had. In doing this they attempted to make a two-sided argument in the comparison of the two phones but it was too much of a weak argument.

Kamins, Brand, Hoeke and Moe (1989) illustrated how effective a two-sided argument can be. They got participants to evaluate an advertisement on a range of variables including purchase intention. Participants were exposed to either a one-sided advert or a two-sided one. They found that those subjects exposed to the two-sided communication indicated greater intention to buy the product than those exposed to the one-sided advert.

However, Petty and Cacioppo’s (1979) study illustrated where Samsung went wrong. They had participants listen to persuasive messages where they either had high involvement or low involvement with the issue at hand. The issue would either go into effect at their own university (high involvement) or at another university (low involvement). They found that increased involvement could lead to increased persuasion for a message if the arguments were significantly compelling, this is illustrated in Figure 1. In other words, increasing involvement enhanced persuasion for the strong message but reduced persuasion for the weak one.

Figure 1: Participants' purchase intention after viewing one-sided or two-sided advertisement.

When buying a new, expensive, phone people are highly involved and do a lot of research. You are invested in trying to find the best phone and thus a two-sided argument is necessary. However, as Petty and Cacioppo (1979) found, when people are highly involved in the matter at hand arguments need to be significantly compelling to be effective. Anyone who has done the slightest bit of research (and let’s face it everyone does their research before committing to a 2 year contract) will know that there the latest iPhone offers a multitude of other features. Even if someone hasn’t done their research there is so much hype about what the new iPhone will bring that pure hearsay will inform people of all the new features. Samsung really underestimated their audience’s knowledge here. The fact that people will immediately know that there are many features missing off of the list for the iPhone makes their argument weak.

Instead of simply missing out the features available on the iPhone 5, Samsung would have been better off stating a feature Apple provides and refuting it with a more important feature they provide.

Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1979). Issue involvement can increase or decrease persuasion by enhancing message-relevant cognitive responses. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1915-1926.

Kamins, M. A., Brand, M. J., Hoeke, S. A., & Moe, J. C. (1989). Two-sided versus one-sided celebrity endorsements: The impact on advertising effectiveness and credibility. Journal of Advertising, 18, 4-10.

Danielle Huskinson

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