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.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Susie's story, match.com





The match.com advert above aims to persuade single individuals to register with them, in the hope of finding their perfect partner. By marketing Susie’s story and her reasons for using the site, they hope people may relate to her situation. Towards the end she highlights that 'you have to go out and make things happen’ which would be to sign up to match.com. As well as using the Plain-folks persuasion technique, the company also use the Story telling technique.

For those who may be in a similar situation, a plausible story such as Susie’s, can encourage thought and evaluation towards the decision of joining match.com. It is useful that a fact has also been included in the piece ‘1 in 4 relationships now start online’ (Hastie and Pennington,2000).

Research has highlighted that using narrative structure such as a story, with facts, is more effective in arguing than just facts alone. Slusher and Anderson (1996), used three manipulated conditions to explain why AIDS is not spread by casual contact. The causal condition simply explained the process of the disease. For example, ‘AIDS virus is not concentrated in saliva’and ‘must get into the bloodstream’. The non causal condition used statistical arguments only to highlight that AIDS is not spread by causal contact. Another condition involved both types of information.  After being presented with the information participants were asked to rate their belief of how AIDS is spread, using a 9 point scale.

The figure below illustrates that the presentation of causal information is more effective in changing belief than non causal evidence. Those in the causal condition showed greater change in their belief. From this result we can interpret that explaining the situation through causal description is more persuasive than statistical facts only.

In relation to the advert, match.com have not attempted to persuade through a set of statistics, instead they have focused on giving a narrative piece. This is more likely to encourage viewers to change their belief about online dating sites. They can understand Susie’s perspective,rather than read a set of figures or facts. Match.com will hope that thisapproach will encourage others join.

References
Pennington, N., & Hastie, R. (1992). Explaining the evidence: Tests of the Story Model for juror decision making. Journal of personality and social psychology, 62, 189.

Slusher, M.P., & Anderson, C.A. (1996). Using causal persuasive arguments to change beliefs and teach new information: The mediating role of explanation availability and evaluation bias in the acceptance of knowledge. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88, 110-122.

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