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

Want to SLAY like Beyoncé?

The advert above encourages people to eat a plant based diet for 22 days, as part of the 22 Day Program. The idea is that after 21 days, dieters will have made plant based living part of their lifestyle and so they will be more likely to maintain this lifestyle after the program. As well as highlighting some health advantages of cutting out meat and dairy, the advert also employs some more subliminal persuasive techniques which we'll discuss below.

The advert takes advantage of an endorsement from a very popular celebrity who many women aspire to be like. The quote implies that people will be able to feel as incredible as their idol, if they follow the same diet as her. Furthermore, not only does Beyoncé feel incredible, but she also looks incredible in the photograph too. The advert subtly suggests that she looks this way because of the 22 day program and that this look is achievable for the audience of the advert, if they follow the diet as well.

This celebrity endorsement is an example of the high-status admirer altercast technique of persuasion and influence. In this technique, an admirable person of high social status, is used as a goal for the audience to aspire to (Pratkanis, 2007). An example of evidence for this technique in action comes from Lefkowitz, Blake & Mouton (1955). They found that subjects were more likely to jaywalk (or cross a road in an illegal place) when they observed a person of perceived high social status jaywalking, than someone perceived as having low social status. Beyoncé possesses a very high social status, with thousands of fans wanting to 'slay' like she does. So if she shares her secret to looking and feeling as good as she does, then people are going to want to copy it.

In addition to this technique, the advert also utilizes the technique of innuendo, by using the term 'plant based diet' instead of vegan. The term 'vegan' often comes with negative connotations. In fact, the creator of the program, Marco Borges himself says in a promotional video that "We started off with the word vegan and people were like 'that's really cool but ah vegan, that's really tough... all or nothing'". Therefore his team prefer the term 'plant based' which implies a vegan diet but arguably has more positive connotations than vegan. The term is also associated with recent, natural lifestyle trends. Essentially, using this innuendo makes a vegan diet seem more obtainable and cool to the audience. The technique of innuendo is supported by Wegner, Wenzlaff, Kerker & Beattie (1981)  who found that the power of innuendo can negatively influence people's perceptions of politicians.

Lefkowitz, M., Blake, R. R., & Mouton, J. S. (1955). Status factors in pedestrian violation of traffic signals. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology51(3), 704-706.

Pratkanis, A. (2007). The science of social influence. New York: Psychology Press.

Tuso, P. J., Ismail, M. H., Ha, B. P., & Bartolotto, C. (2013). Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets. The Permanente Journal17(2), 61–66.

Wegner, D. M., Wenzlaff, R., Kerker, R. M., & Beattie, A. E. (1981). Incrimination through innuendo: Can media questions become public answers?. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40, 822-832.

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