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, March 30, 2016

You Wouldn't Eat This Much Sugar

A standard, widely consumed 330ml can of fizzy drink contains on average 35g of sugar, which is equivalent to 7 teaspoons. The NHS recommends an intake of no more than 30g of added sugar a day – which would be exceeded by including a 330ml can of fizzy drink in the daily diet. Excess sugar in the diet has been associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes (Apovian, 2004), a study conducted by Ludwig and colleagues (2001) showed that, with the consumption of each extra sugar-sweetened fizzy drink per day, the likelihood of becoming obese increased by 1.6 times. Furthermore, findings from Schulze and colleagues (2004) showed that women who consumed more sugar-sweetened fizzy drinks were also significantly more likely to smoke, be less physically active, overall consume more calories and have lower intakes of protein and fibre than women who consume less of these beverages –in combination, the aforementioned factors increase the risks of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.

In light of these findings, our project consisted of changing people’s opinion regarding the amount of sugar that fizzy drinks contain and the detrimental effects this has on the body! Many students drink too many fizzy drinks so as to use the sugar to accommodate their busy lifestyles. This is extremely topical at the moment with the introduction of a ‘fat tax’ and Jamie Oliver wanting to reduce sugar in schools. Furthermore, obesity is at its highest rate in the UK and many regard sugary drinks as a major factor in the increase in obesity.

Therefore, we decided to create a poster to describe the detrimental health effects that come with drinking fizzy drinks and the amount of sugar that is actually in numerous different drinks compared to water. We showed these posters to Warwick University students in the SU.

 We then asked students to fill in questionnaires to see if their opinions of sugary drinks had changed due to these posters and found that many would drink less fizzy drinks after being told this information!

 Nia Helyar, Ula Sever, Francesca Parker and Jade Reed


Apovian, C. M. (2004). Sugar-sweetened soft drinks, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 292, 978-979.
Ludwig, D. S., Peterson, K. E., & Gortmaker, S. L. (2001). Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis. The Lancet, 357, 505-508.

Schulze, M. B., Manson, J. E., Ludwig, D. S., Colditz, G. A., Stampfer, M. J., Willett, W. C., & Hu, F. B. (2004). Sugar-sweetened beverages, weight gain, and incidence of type 2 diabetes in young and middle-aged women. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 292, 927-934.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


Our project consisted of getting girls to include more weights in their training – as few of them don’t know the benefits of it, and results are actually much better than just doing cardio and/or going on drastic diets.
We created leaflets with information of the benefits and using famous women as examples. Those leaflets were left at a female-only gym’s reception, for two weeks, and we collected feedbacks forms.
Leaflets comprehended a few persuasive techniques, first to actually get information available. All the benefits of weights use, and we tried to break the ideas that by weight lifting you will become a bodybuilder. This is not true, and that’s one message we tried to get across in our leaflets.
We also used famous people as a reference, such as Natalie Portman, Christina Aguilera, and model Marisa Miller.
We included a few studies to support our arguments. 

At the back of the leaflet, a feedback form was there for women to fill in it and give it back to us at reception, asking if they found the information useful, and if they started/or are considering including weights in their training as a result.

Here is how the leaflet looked like. 


Cambell, A. (2014). “12 Reasons You Should Start Lifting Weights Today”. Women’s Health Magazine. Retrieved from
FITNESS. (2010). “Work Out Like Lady Gaga”. Popsugar. Retrieved from
Raftery, L. (2012). “Christina Aguilera Calls 2011 a 'Rough Year’”. People. Retrieved from
Rohloff, A. (2013). Women and Weight Training. St. John Fisher College, New York.
Shy, L. (2012). “Fittest Female Celeb of 2011: The Top 25”. Popsugar. Retrieved from
Westcott, W. & La Rosa Loud, R. (2013). Enhancing resistance training results with protein/carbohydrate supplementation. ACSMs Health and Fitness Journal, 17(2), 10-16.

Shannon Juneja and Audrey Stref.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

I recycle, you recycle…we all recycle!

Warwick prides itself on being a ‘Green University’, however for some reason this ethos doesn’t seem to translate to the university managed off-campus accommodation. This is something we wanted to target and improve upon, especially after noticing how the recycling bins are rarely full whilst the general waste bins are always overflowing at the Warwick off-campus accommodation where we live.

Therefore, the aim of our Behaviour Change project was to increase recycling amongst the residents of Union Court. The main tactic we used to do this was to increase the amount of exposure residents’ have to recycling, and to highlight the importance of the topic. We created an infographic in order to do this, which made use of multiple persuasion techniques including celebrity endorsement, explicit statements, disgusting imagery and rhetorical questions.

We placed these infographics at multiple locations in and around the building including the lift, notice boards, in every flat’s mailbox, and directly above the recycling bins. As the infographic was presented in many locations there was more chance of them being seen, and if they were seen often enough, we hoped that attitudes towards recycling might be improved. The idea behind this being the mere exposure effect whereby mere repeated exposure to a stimulus is sufficient to improve one’s attitude towards such stimulus (Zajonc, 1968).

In addition to the infographics being placed around Union Court, the property manager of the building supported our campaign and agreed to distribute it to all of the residents via email, ensuring that every resident saw the infographic. As residents would repeatedly see reminders that they should recycle we believe that they may be more likely to engage in this behaviour. This is due to the availability heuristic (Tversky & Kahneman, 1973) which is a mental shortcut, which relies on immediate examples that come to mind when making a decision. When residents of Union Court have to take their bins out, they should be able to easily remember the infographics we created and therefore be more likely to make the decision to recycle.  

Further to this, we wanted to measure Behaviour Change by providing each flat with an extra recycling bin, making it easier to separate recycling in their flat before taking it outside to the bins where it has to be separated. We had planned on obtaining residents’ commitment to recycle more when we provided these bins. However, the council denied our request for extra recycling bins to be provided to each flat in the property.

Had we received the bins, we would have conducted a before and after survey to find out whether the bins increased recycling in Union Court. Despite this, we believe that our infographic alone will increase recycling through the many persuasive techniques we have outlined above.

~Natasha Kumar, Charlotte Claridge-Ingham and Hannah Hammam~

Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1973). Availability: A heuristic for judging frequency and probability. Cognitive psychology, 5, 207-232.

Zajonc, R. B. (1968). Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of personality and social psychology, 9, 1.