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.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Save up to £400 

The ad above is an example of how mild arguments can weaken the appeal of a message (Friedrich et al., 1996). The travel agency Thomson is using an image of a teddy bear who is missing an eye in order to demonstrate that by choosing their travel agency you wont have to saving in the wrong places. The ad is telling us that by choosing their holiday deal, you could save up to £400 and you wouldnt have to save elsewhere. However in my opinioin this ad is not very effective as the specific offer is meant to target couples and it fails to appeal to them as it is using weak irrelevant imagery to convey their message. 

Instead of using this strategy, perhaps they should have considered to use some attractive imagery illustrating the unique holiday they could purchase with their agency, because as we all know - imagery sells! In an intruiging study conducted by Gregory et al. (1982  ) the effectiveness of imagery is illustrated clearly. In their experiement subjects were contacted at the door of their residence and asked whether they would be willing to participate in a survey aimed at exploring attitdues towards cable television (CATV). There were two conditions in this experiement. In control condition participants were exposed to a brief description of some of the key aspects of CATV. In the experimental condition participants were given the same description, however they were additionally asked to "take a moment and imagine" followed by the identical description given in the control condition. Following the description participants were asked a series of questions in respect to CATV and finally they were given a stamped postcard in case they would decide to request further information about CATV. A few weeks later participants were also offered a free trial and given the opportunity to subscribe to CATV.

The results of the study are illustrated above. From the information provided above we can see that significant differences were found between the information vs imagination condition in regards to accepting the free week trial and subscribing to CATV. In the information condition 41.5% of the subjects accepted the free week trial, whereas in the imagination (imagery) condition, 65.8% agreed! Similar results were obtained in the subscription measures. Only 19.5% of the subejcts in the information condition were willing to subscribe to CATV, while 47.4% of the subjects who were asked to imagine the same scenario were finally willing to subscribe.

These results are quite astounding and truly show the power of imagery! One can see how using imagery in the ad presented on the top may be just as effective rather than the technique they are using currently. By providing an appealing image of some mindblowing holiday destination people will be inspired to imagine themselves there and it will make it more likely for them to consider the offer provided by that specific travel agency espically in combination of the prospect of saving  up to £400!


Friedrich, J., Fetherstonhaugh, D., Casey, S., Gallagher, D. (1996). Argument integration and attitude change. Supression effects in the integration of one-sided arguments that vary in persuasiveness. Personality and Social Bulletin, 22, 179-191. 

Gregory, W. L., Cialdini, R. B., Carpenter, K. M. (1982). Self-relevant scenarios as mediators of liklihood estimates and compliance: Does imagining make it so? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43(1). 89-99.

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