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.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


This video, entitled 'Low Battery', was uploaded as part of Prince Ea's initiative to convince people to stop using social media and technology so much, and to instead put their phones away and actually experience life and have face-to-face conversations. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like the video will be persuasive to anyone who doesn't already share Prince's view. The video is aimed at frequent social media users who, in this case, are likely to be the antagonistic party opposing Prince's point of view. Yet, it is incredibly one-sided and only covers what the individual believes are the down-sides to technology, with little to no evidence to actually support any of his claims. The message could have been made more persuasive, and thus more effective, by using a two-sided argument

In McGinnies' (1966) study, the persuasiveness of one and two-sided arguments on participants with views opposing these arguments was tested. Participants' attitudes on 2 issues, the Cuban crisis and nuclear-powered submarine visits, was tested and recorded. Participants generally seemed to support the United States' position with the former, but not with the later. One week later, participants listened to one of 4 recorded arguments: either a one-sided or two-sided argument about the Cuban crisis or submarine visits. Following this, participants completed another attitude scale, and rated the convincingness of the arguments. The results can be seen in Table 1 below.

When participants already agreed with the point of view of the argument, namely in the Cuban crisis condition, having a one or two-sided argument had no influence on attitude change, and both arguments were seen as equally convincing. However, when participants originally disagreed with the message of the argument, having a two-sided argument had a significant effect on attitude change, and was also seen as significantly more convincing than a one-sided argument. 

This shows the importance of acknowledging both sides of an argument, especially when the target audience may oppose the change your argument is trying to make. If this had been done, it is possible that the video may have been more effective, but as it was not, it is unlikely that the video will be. 

McGinnies, E. (1966). Studies in Persuasion: III. Reactions of Japanese Students to One-Sided and Two-Sided Communications. The Journal of Social Psychology70, 87-93.

Shareen Rikhraj

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