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.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

It wouldn’t be Wales without Brains Beer and Rugby

The ‘in-group’ of welsh people will know that the six nations is one of the most exciting times of the year for all rugby fans. With most of the welsh population digging out their welsh jerseys and making their way to the pub for the weekly games. This is a great advertising opportunity for many welsh companies, especially alcohol companies. S.A. Brains, the national beer of Wales uses this time to produce advertisements to sell their brand of beer to Wales supporters. They claim that ‘It wouldn't be Wales without S.A’ and Brains is a national icon along with welsh rugby players.

Adverts like these make all welsh people seem similar. We all share the same nationality, everyone in Wales loves rugby, everyone supports the best team in the six nations (controversial opinion!) everyone in Wales drinks beer in the pub on a Saturday watching the game. This must be true because that’s what the advert says.

When asked to describe ourselves, we use information such as gender, age and nationality. Our nationality, where we are from is one of the first in-groups that we become a part of and feel like we belong. Smith and Henry, 1996 argue that characteristics of the in-group, in this case enjoying rugby and welsh beer are actually stored as part of our own representation of ourselves. Therefore, these characteristics are not superficial but are actually incorporated into our sense of self. This study found that participants responded faster to characteristics that were descriptive of both the self and the in-group therefore we relate more with characteristics that are relevant to us and to our nationality. We respond quicker to characteristics that are both self-descriptive and in-group descriptive especially if we have high inclusion of in-group on self-scores. So if we feel like we are more a part of the group, and see this as part of our self-concept, in this example, we like rugby and beer then we respond quicker to advertisements that use these as part of their persuasion techniques.

Mackie, Gastardo-Conaco & Skelly, 1992, discuss the ‘in-group persuasion technique’ whereby people are more persuaded by in-group that out-group sources. This is due to people’s use of source information from in-group sources as a heuristic cue but also as a cue to systematically process their argument. Therefore we would be more persuaded by our in-group than an out-group for certain things. In the case of advertising welsh beer, we are more persuaded by an advert with welsh icons (e.g. rugby players) as we are made to feel part of a group that drinks welsh beer. Therefore, we agree with similar others (Allen & Wilder, 1979) as we feel that messages coming from in-group sources are more credible or informative so we systematically process the messages which leads to greater acceptance of the in-groups position especially when the messages are strong (Mackie et al, 1990).  

Therefore, this advert uses strong in-group persuasion messages to persuade members of the welsh public (especially rugby fans) to buy their beer whilst watching the six nations!

Mackie, D. M., Gastardo-Conaco, M. C., & Skelly, J. J. (1992). Knowledge of the advocated position and the processing of in-group and out-group persuasive messages. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin18(2), 145-151.

Wyer, N. A. (2010). Selective self-categorization: Meaningful categorization and the in-group persuasion effect. The Journal of social psychology150(5), 452-470.

Tropp, L. R., & Wright, S. C. (2001). Ingroup identification as the inclusion of ingroup in the self. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin27(5), 585-600.

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