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.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Hello Wine, Goodbye Problems...

This advert uses many persuasive techniques in order to try and convince the general public to drink red wine. Each will discussed briefly in terms of how and why they have been used.

Social Proof, Rhetorical Questions and Fear
“Do you hate being the boring friend?”

This sentence, and that thereafter, propose the idea that drinking wine is common in all social circles. As individuals, we look at the behaviour of others to determine what is and is not normal or appropriate. By suggesting the act of drinking wine to be common, those who read the advert are more likely to take up this behaviour as they believe they are following the norm (Cialdini, 2009). This is social proof. 

The use of a rhetorical question is also an effective technique as research shows these question types cause readers to pay more attention to what they are reading. Thus, they will use their efforts to process what is being said (Burnkrant & Howard, 1984). Petty and Cacioppo (1981) support his claim. They found rhetorical questions to be more effective than statements in causing persuasion when looking at message style and quality in a student population. This increased attention means the information is processed via the central route of persuasion (Petty & Cacioppo, 1979).

The use of the word 'boring' is also important. No one wants to be considered the boring friend. The proposed idea that not drinking red wine results in this consequence leads to a negative emotional response in the reader. They are therefore more likely to take part in the suggested behaviour. They will want to avoid this consequence. Research supports this, showing the likelihood of behaviour change to be positively correlated with fear arousal (Dillard & Anderson, 2004). There is also support for the idea that fear acts as a peripheral cue, thus leading to increased message processing (Rosenthal, 1997). Due to the use of the peripheral route of persuasion, little or no effort is required during the processing (Petty & Cacioppo, 1979).

"Healthy heart, healthy mind, healthy body"

Repetition has been used in order to increase the positivity of the reader's attitude towards the message. Weiss (1969) looked at the effect of repetition on persuasion by exposing a group of participants to a message three times. A control group, exposed once to the same message, were used to compare results. Results revealed those in the group who had been exposed to the message three times formed greater opinions. In another study, Tucker and Ware (1971) found increased exposure resulted in higher ratings. This supports the proposal that the current repetition of the world 'healthy' will increase the reader's liking for the advert. As a result of this, they are also likely to pay attention to and agree with the message.

Medical Expertise
“Dr Agatston, Cardiologist, explains…”
“The New England Journal of Medicine shows…”

The use of information from credible sources, including doctors and medical journals, increases the value of the information presented in the poster. Individuals are able to have more trust in the message and so are more likely to believe it. As a result, they are also more likely to engage in the desired behaviour. This uses the central route to persuasion (Petty & Cacioppo, 1979) and Hovland and Weiss (1951) support this. In their research on effective communication, participants in two different groups were presented with identical information. The communicator in one group however was considered trustworthy, whereas that in the second group was considered untrustworthy. Immediate changes in opinion were found be significantly higher in the group the trustworthy individual presented to. This finding has been replicated (Crisci & Kassinove, 1973). Credibility leads to an increased likelihood of behaviour change.

That’s Not All
“Oh… And it leaves you feeling fuller for longer…”

The use of the ‘that’s-not-all’ technique in this advert gives the impression there are even more benefits that you don’t want to miss out on. Readers will again be more likely to give their full attention as they continue reading. Burger (1986) shows how the enhancement of a deal can lead to greater sales - a similar concept. The offer of a cupcake for 75 cents, waiting, and then including two cookies in the deal resulted in significantly more sales than simply offering a cupcake and two cookies for the 75 cents. This was due to the customer believing the deal had been upgraded. The addition of another benefit of red wine in this format leads the reader to believe red wine is even healthier than they were initially told. They are therefore more likely to be persuaded to carry out the behaviour.

In summary, the research discussed allows us to assume that the persuasive techniques used in the advert will be successful in generating the desired behaviour change in society. Of course, only time will tell if red wine sales increase.

Burger, J. M. (1986). Increasing compliance by improving the deal. The that’s-not-all technique. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 277-283.

Burnkrant, R. E., & Howard, D. J. (1984). Effects of the use of introductory rhetorical questions versus statements on information processing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 1218-1230.

Cialdini, R. B. (2009). Influence: Science and Practice. USA: Pearson Education Inc.

Crisci, R., & Kassinove, H. (1973). Effect of perceived expertise, strength of advice, and environmental setting on parental compliance. The Journal of Social Psychology, 89, 245.

Dillard, J. P., & Anderson, J. W. (2004). The role of fear in persuasion. Psychology & Marketing, 21, 909-926.

Hovland, C. I., & Weiss, W. (1951). The influence of source credibility on communication effectiveness. Public Opinion Quarterly, 15, 635-650.

Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1979). Issue involvement can increase or decrease persuasion by enhancing message-relevant cognitive responses. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1915.

Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1981). Effects of rhetorical questions on persuasion. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40, 432-440.

Rosenthal, L. H. (1997). A new perspective on the relation between fear and persuasion: The application of dual-process models. Information & Learning, 58, 3371.

Tucker, R. K., & Ware, P. D. (1971). Persuasion via mere exposure. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 57, 437-443.

Weiss, R. F. (1969). Repetition of persuasion. Psychological Reports, 25, 669-670.

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