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.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Can the Opportunity for Free Sex on the Beach Change our Evenings Plans?

      Anyone who has been on a lads/girls holiday, or even just on a big night out in a city centre, knows that there are those seemingly annoying 'reps' trying to drag you into their empty, dingy and sorry looking excuses for bars and clubs. However it never ceases to amaze, the impact of an offer of '2 free shots' and, or 'a fishbowl',  on our willingness to enter one of these undesirable places.

        The conversation normally goes something like this:

Over-Excitable Rep: 'Evening Lads, hows it going, where are you heading tonight?'

Naive Punter: 'I think were just heading down to 'ANOVA 'N' OVA Again'....'

*Swift Interruption*

Over-Excitable Rep: ' No lads, come and try the Freudian Strip Bar, its a great night out, and the drinks are SPSS, Superbly Priced and Stupidly Strong?'

Naive Punter: 'Nah, I'm good mate, we've got our mind set on ANOVA 'N' OVA Again'

*Group of Punters Start walking away*

Over-Excitable Rep: 'Wait, wait a second lads, how about I sort you out with my special deal on a few drinks. What do you reckon to a free shot of Sambuca each and Fishbowl for you all to get the night started? Just come in with me and we'll get you all sorted out?'

*Group of Punters have a little team talk to discuss this mind-blowing deal they've been offered to a place they didn't want to go, for drinks they didn't want*

Naive Punters: 'Yeah why not, guess we could stop for a couple...'

*Off they go to drink their free drinks followed by more which they pay for in the Freudian Strip*




When we accept offers such as these, whether it be free drinks or a sticker from a charity, we feel and internal need to repay this sort of generosity or kindness in some shape or form. Whatley, Webster, Smith and Rhodes (1999) explain this feeling as the norm of reciprocity, a norm that means that we feel more inclined to do something for someone or do what they want us to do;  when they have made us a concession or have done us a favour, even if their behaviour was unwanted. In the case of example above, the mere offer of some free drinks is enough to dissuade the Naive punters of their original plans, and probably end up spending their money in the Freudian slip instead of their original choice of bar.

In their research, Whatley et al (1999), found that when participants were asked to donate money to charity, either publicly or privately, when a favour was performed by the experimenter, the pledged donation amount went up, as can be seen by the graph of the results in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Graph to show the Difference between pledged amounts in the Favour and No favour conditions.




     So next time you're out on the town and someone makes you an offer for their club that just seems too good to be true, just think whether you'll have a night out more comical than Donald Trump's manifesto; or whether you're going to get home with a dented Ego.




Whatley, M. A., Webster, J. M., Smith, R. H., & Rhodes, A. (1999). The effect of a favor on public and private compliance: How internalized is the norm of reciprocity?. Basic and Applied Social Psychology21(3), 251-259.






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