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

Super foods? More like thieves of your hard earned money!

'You have to try [insert name of item you have never heard of before] it has a variety of health benefits. Yeah it may be hard to get hold of and the price is extortionate, but it's labelled as a 'super food' so it must be better than everyday fruit and vegetables! Right?'
When did everyday fruit and vegetables lose their power to help provide a healthy lifestyle? What makes these 'super foods' superior anyway?

The advertisement created is designed to promote the inclusion of 'traditional' fruit and vegetables as part of your diet, specifically in this case; carrots, onions and apples. It aims to promote the fact that although not labelled as 'super foods' (as part of the current fad), they are not inferior to such products. Information in support of this view was obtained from the European Food Information Council (EUFIC). A variety of persuasion techniques have been employed in the creation of the advertisement poster, a selection of which will now be described. 

Anthropomorphising a social cause and feelings of guilt
 Anthropomorphising a social cause has been found to increase compliance within the cause being promoted (Ahn et al, 2013), in this case the social cause to eat fruit and vegetables. By presenting the food items with eyes and a mouth (as opposed to in a 'natural state', see below) the consumer is more likely to comply with the request to buy these products over foods labelled as 'super'. It is suggested that you comply more to requests in this form due to anticipatory guilt. Anticipatory guilt refers to concerns of negative feelings in the future if one does not comply with the request. By knowing you will feel unwanted negative feelings in the future you are more likely to buy the product as a measure of guilt avoidance. 
Sexual Imagery
The positioning of the three items provides sexual imagery for the audience. Such images gain potential consumers attention, however the recall of written information can be decreased due to the images distracting nature (Reichert, 2002). It is suggested that there are more positive evaluations of an advertisement when the sexual image is related to the brand. In this case the image of a male penis is not related to the health benefits of eating such products. But is the use of positioning the product in a sexually suggestive manner comparable to the common image of women depicted in a sexual way? With female-only and couples within sexual advertisements accounting for 93% of such advertisements (Reichert & Lambiase, 2003) the use of male imagery creates a sense of novelty. Given unusual stimuli are remembered better than common stimuli (Waddill & McDaniel, 1998) the novelty of the sexual imagery can be seen to enhance the memorability of the advert. 

Rhetorical Questions 
Introducing with such a rhetorical question has been seen to arouse uncertainty and motivate intense processing within the reader (Burnkrnat & Howard, 1984). Whether this has a positive or negative outcome on consumer attitudes is seen to be dependent of a variety of factors. One of these is the consumers original opinion, with persuasion being seen as more effective when opinion is initially opposed (Zillmann, 1972). A second is the relationship between the level of involvement on the part of the consumer and the strength of the argument (Petty et al, 1981). If there is low involvement then a strong argument is strengthened by a rhetorical question. If there is high involvement however then a weak argument is strengthened by such a question. The use of a rhetorical question within the produced advert will elicit positive outcomes for some consumers but not for all potential customers. But can you really please everyone?

- Ahn, H., Kim, H., & Aggarwal, P. (2014). Helping Fellow Beings: Anthopomorphized Social Causes and the Role of Anticpatory Guilt. Psychological Science, 25 , 224-229.
- Burnkrnat, R., & Howard, D. (1984). Effects of the use of introductory rhetorical questions versus statements on information processing. Personality and Social Psychology, 47 , 1218-1230
- EUFIC. (2012, November). The science behind superfoods: are they really super? Retrieved from European Food Information Council: 
- Perry, R., Cacioppo., & Heesacker, M. (1981). Effects of Rhetorical Questions on Persuasion: A Cognitive Response Analysis. Personality and Social Psychology, 40 , 432-440.
- Reichert, T. (2002). Sex in Advertising Research: A Review of Content, Effect, and Functions of Sexual Information in Consumer Advertising. Annual Review of Sex Research, 13 , 241-273.
Reichert, T., & Lambiase, J. (2003). How to get ''kissably close'': Examining how advertisers appeal to consumers' sexual needs and desires. Sexuality and Culture, 7 , 120-136.
- Waddill, P., & McDaniel, M. (1998). Distinctiveness effects in recall: Differential processing or privileged retrieval?. Memory & Cognition, 26 , 108-120.
- Zillmann, D. (1972). Rhetorical elicitation of agreement in persuasion. Personality and Social Psychology, 21 , 159-165.

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