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 25, 2016

Join the millions!!

This advert aims to promote the diet choice of having one day a week (Mondays) without meat. Multiple studies report the health benefits of reducing meat consumption, as well as the added benefits of saving money (meat is expensive). Furthermore, the meat industry has a large impact on the environment, so reducing the demand for meat reduces the impact on the environment. By advertising the change to happen on a Monday, this increases the chances that people will have the willpower to go meatless for a day. As the start of a new week, people see Monday more as a fresh start than any other day, and further means that people are more likely to go meatless on other days of the week too (Dai, Milkman & Riis, 2014).
The main tactic that this advert uses for encouraging the behaviour change is to make people believe that everyone is doing it. “Join the Millions” acts as social consensus – because millions of people are going meatless on Mondays, it must be a good idea and the correct thing to do (Deutsch & Gerard, 1955). As further persuasion that it is a good idea, the benefits are made clear and salient (and in comparison, makes it clear that there are disadvantages to not making the change). Who doesn’t want to be richer, healthier, and helping the environment??
This advert also uses other methods of persuasion, such as actively encouraging people to label themselves as “helpful”. By making the change, they are not only helping themselves (health and money), but also helping the environment and reducing their carbon footprint. By going meatless, they could perceive themselves as a helpful person, which would, in turn, increase their self-esteem, and form a positive social identity as a member of the “meatless  Mondays group” (Bem, 1972).
Furthermore, this advert uses humour. Humorous images, such as the cow used here, have been shown to induce happier, positive moods when looking at the advert, which leads people to believe that they have a positive view towards the idea and the source itself. The positive associations increase liking, making the advert seem like it is offering a good idea (Cialdini, 2001). Studies have also shown that inducing a positive mood makes people more likely to change their attitudes in favour of the source, and to be less influenced by the quality of the message itself (Worth & Mackie, 1987). Therefore, this increases the chances that people will go meatless on Mondays after reading the advert.

Bem, D. J. (1972). Self-Perception Theory. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (pp.1-62). New York: Academic Press.
Cialdini, R. B. (2001). Influence: Science and practice (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Dai, H., Milkman, K. L., & Riis, J. (2014). The fresh start effect: Temporal landmarks motivate aspirational behavior. Management Science, 60(10), 2563-2582.
Deutsch, M., & Gerard, H. B. (1955). A study of normative and informational social influences upon individual judgment. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 51(3), 629-636.
Palmer, S. (2013). Meatless Monday. Today's Dietitian, 15(1), 38.
Worth, L. T., & Mackie, D. M. (1987). Cognitive mediation of positive affect in persuasion. Social Cognition, 5(1), 76-94.

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