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.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Deadpool = dead romantic?

‘Deadpool’ – looks like your typical RomCom “girly” movie right? Wrong. ‘Deadpool’ is a superhero action and comedy film, rated R for its strong violence and language, sexual content and graphic nudity. This definitely classifies it as your typical “male” film. However, thanks to a clever marketing campaign, the team behind ‘Deadpool’ have convinced females all over the world that they want to see this movie. The marketing team have recently released a string of adverts depicting the lead character out of costume embracing his girlfriend, added a romantic colour scheme and the tagline "True love never dies". Now, although it only takes a quick Google to see what the film is actually about, it would seem a lot of girls have been persuaded by the poster alone that they want to go and see it with their boyfriends, as this SMS exchange shows:

This poster is making use of a persuasive psychology techniques identified by Hovland (1953): The Yale Attitude Change Approach. Hovland suggested that persuasion is influenced by 3 factors: the source, the message and the audience. Source characteristics can include credibility, attractiveness or similarity to self. In 1951 Hovland and Weiss found that US college students who read an article on nuclear submarines were more easily persuaded when the article was written by Robert Oppenheimer (and expert) than a Soviet news agency (non-expert). Chaiken (1979) found that experimenters trying to persuade undergraduates to sign a petition were more successful if they were attractive than if they were not, as shown in the table of results below. Finally, Simons, Berkowitz & Moyer (1970) showed that similarity to self in terms of shared attitudes, appearance or social categories made for more persuasive messages.

The Deadpool movie poster plays on these three areas. Generally, movie posters are considered to be a credible form of representation for a film. People will often choose a film to watch dependent on if it “looks like something” they’d enjoy. So by making a poster that looks like something a typical “female” would like, they are persuading more females to come and watch the film. Additionally, the film features attractive actors and by showing the lead male out of his superhero costume (which features a full mask), this increases attractiveness and therefore persuasion. Finally, if a girlfriend sees themselves as a typical, romantic “girly” girl, the poster depicts a similarity of social categories (it involves people in a relationship) and shared attitudes (e.g. “Oh how romantic, what a beautiful relationship, that’s the kind of love I want”). All of this encourages and persuades a girlfriend that they definitely want to go and see the film with their boyfriend for Valentines. Well played Marvel, well played.

- Chaiken, S. (1979). Communicator physical attractiveness and persuasion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1387-1397.
- Hovland, C. I., Janis, I. L., & Kelley, H. H. (1953). Communication and Persuasion: Psychological Studies of Opinion change. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
- Hovland, C. I., & Weiss, W. (1951). The influence of source credibility on communication effectiveness. Public Opinion Quarterly, 15, 635-650.

- Simons, H. W., Berkowitz, N. N., & Moyer, R. J. (1970) Similarity, credibility and attitude change: A review and theory. Psychological Bulletin, 73, 1-16.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this good article. As much as I can follow your argumentation I asked myself if this strategy is working for the movie. Nowadays, many people watch a trailer on youtube before going to see the movie. Women will recognize that this movie isnt that kind of movie what they expected.


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