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.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

You could read this post…or, you could do something else. The choice is yours!

The above advertisement uses a persuasive technique known as the BYAF ('But you are free') technique. The technique works on the premise that when you make a request, (such as requesting people to purchase fruit and vegetables more often), you should give the consumer the freedom to make a choice. In order to make the consumers' freedom of choice explicit you can use phrases such as ‘Buy this, if you want to’ or ‘You are free to choose another product that meets your requirements’. The actual wording you use does not affect the success of the technique, providing that the consumer believes that his/her freedom of choice is not violated (Carpenter, 2013). A meta-analysis of 42 studies (Carpenter, 2013) found that the BYAF technique significantly increased compliance rates (for a variety of requests), compared to when the consumer was not explicitly reminded of his/her freedom of choice.

Another technique employed by the advertisement concerns the fact that the fruit is ‘smiling’ in the advertisement. Smit (2014) found that smiling (used either, in objects, or, by people) induced a positive perception of advertisements in the consumer. Furthermore, adverts with a positive emotional appeal were found to increase the effectiveness of incentives, and, as a by-product, the advertisement on a whole (Xie, Donthu, Lothia, & Osmonbekov, 2004). In this advert the positive emotional appeal, as mentioned, derives from the fact that the fruit is ‘smiling’. The incentives in this advert include the fact that increased consumption of fruit and vegetables leads to a whole host of health benefits. For instance, as mentioned in the advertisement, increased consumption of fruit and vegetables can decrease one’s risk of stroke, cancer and heart disease. Therefore the effectiveness of the advertisement is theoretically bolstered by utilising positive emotional connotations, and explicit incentives that come alongside this diet choice.


Briggs, H. (2010, December 16). Five-a-day of fruit and vegetables 'saves lives'. Retrieved from
Carpenter, C. J. (2013). A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of the “But you are free” compliance-gaining technique. Communication Studies64, 6-17.
Liu, R. H. (2003). Health benefits of fruit and vegetables are from additive and synergistic combinations of phytochemicals. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition78, 517-520.
Smit, B. (2014). The Heineken story: The remarkably refreshing tale of the beer that conquered the world. London: Profile Books.
5Unknown Author. (2010, February 5). 5 A DAY health benefits. Retrieved from
Xie, T., Donthu, N., Lohtia, R., & Osmonbekov, T. (2004). Emotional appeal and incentive offering in banner advertisements. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 4, 30-37.

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