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.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Imagery improving Charlie Chaplin...



Someone made this video by taking Charlie Chaplin’s speech from The Great Dictator, and adding relevant imagery to make the piece even more persuasive and emotional. The speech itself uses many persuasive techniques; repetition (the words “men” and “brutes”) and the use of a respected source of information (he quotes the bible).  However, the imagery is the most powerful part.

In a study by Gregory, Cialdini and Carpenter (1982) the power of imagery was shown. Door-to-door salesmen were sent around to customers to sell TV subscriptions. Some were just told the advantages of having the TV subscription, others were told to imagine how the TV subscription would improve their lives in terms of their entertainment. This made them imagine how they would enjoy the subscription. It was found that those who were told to imagine were 2.5 times more likely to buy  the subscription, compared to those who were just talked at.



As the table above demonstrates, subscription to cable TV was much higher in the imagination condition than the information condition (8/41 vs 18/38).

When Charlie Chaplin says “life will be violent, and all will be lost” around 1:05 minutes in, it’s paired with the image of bombs going off and fields being dry and barren. Similarly, they pair soldiers speaking to their guns lying rows, being overseen by a commander when he said “do not give yourself to brutes. Men who despise you” at 1:50 minutes. At 3:10 onwards, the imagery becomes much more positive, men working together to tear down the Berlin wall, trees and mountains and other natural imagery. This shows people what the outcome could be if everyone would just work together in peace, just as in the study by Gregory, Cialdini and Carpenter (1982), in which it was more persuasive to imagine the potential outcome.    


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(1), 89-99. 

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