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 2, 2016

Trigger warning: unpleasant images

(Please note the blood used in this ad is not real and the people are only acting).

The aim of this ad was to use a persuasive technique known as the “fear appeal”. Fear appeals tend to communicate messages by depicting a threat of danger to viewers (Rogers, 1975) and are usually effective in creating a change in beliefs (Shelton & Rogers, 1981). In an attempt for viewers to take notice of this ad, I tried to use horrifying text and images which viewers would not usually tend to see (Dahl et al., 2003) where my aim was to try and create a strong fear message in order to increase the persuasive power (Chu, 1966), that is for meat-eaters to try and stop eating meat. Evidence signifies that ads which demonstrate fear are more likely to be remembered compared to ads with minimal emotional content or those that are cheery (Snipes, LaTour; Bliss, 1999).

So, instead of using dead animals to create fear of eating meat, I used an alternative approach by displaying frightening images of humans as “human meat packages” in order to elicit fear. By looking at blood splattered across the ad and humans in a gruesome bloody package wrapped in cling film hopefully created a sense of fear and created individuals to question themselves, “how would I feel if humans were tortured and slaughtered for meat?” the answer to this question is most likely, awful! I used human meat packages to create viewers to turn "anti-meat" because animals are similar to humans, animals have feelings just like humans, so if humans aren't murdered for meat then animals shouldn't be either. In addition to this, by providing statistics that there will be a growing demand for animal products signifying that more innocent animals (who are just like us) will be butchered, hopefully too helped to increase the “fear appeal” factor.

I also focussed on adding “disgust” to my fear appeal ad as successful fear appeals include disgust elements (e.g. New York City Department of Health 2010) and can enhance the persuasive message across to viewers (Morales et al., 2012). Disgust in this ad is portrayed by the ghastly images. Evidence shows that the persuasion technique of disgust is a vital factor to determine an individual’s willingness to eat a certain food (Rozin & Fallon, 1987). Ruby (2008) also supported this notion conveying that disgust was the strongest negative predictor in people’s willingness to eat food. 


Chu, G. C. (1966). Fear arousal, efficacy, and imminency. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4, 517-524.
Dahl, D. W., Frankenberger, K. D., & Manchanda, R. V. (2003). Does It Pay to Shock? Reactions to Shocking and Nonshocking Advertizing Content among University Students, Journal of Advertizing Research, 9, 268-280.
Morales, A., Wu, E., & Fitzsimons, G. (2012). “How disgust enhances the effectiveness of fear appeals” Journal of Marketing Research 49(3): 383-393
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (2010), “Health Department Launches New Effort to Wean New Yorkers from Sugary Beverages,” (August 2), (accessed January 13, 2012).
Rogers, R. W. (1975). A protection motivation theory of fear appeals and attitude change. Journal of Psychology, 91, 93-114.
Rozin, P., & Fallon, A. E. (1987). A perspective on disgust. Psychological Review, 94, 32-41.
Ruby, M. B. (2008). Of meat, morals, and masculinity. Factors underlying the consumption of non-human animals, and inferences about another’s character (Master’s thesis).
Shelton, M. L., & Rogers, R. W. (1981). Fear-arousing and empathy-arousing appeals: The pathos of persuasion. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 11, 366-378.
Snipes, R. L., LaTour, M. S., & Bliss, S. J. (1999). A Model of the Effects of Self-Efficacy on the Perceived Ethicality and Performance of Fear Appeals in Advertising. Journal of Business Ethics, 19(3), 273-285.

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