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.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Yogurt-Slimmer’s Choice!

Nowadays, there are an increasing number of people in the world suffering from overweight or obesity, and all those people would like to find a suitable diet for themselves. I therefore recommend yogurt to anyone who wants to keep fit by presenting benefits of yogurts with the specific focus on weight loss. Several persuasive techniques are applied in the ad above in the attempt to persuade readers to have more yogurts in their life.

Firstly, visual persuasion is applied in the ad, which is indicated from the picture depicting the “before and after” effect of a yogurt diet and the photos of two journals relevant to yogurt and health. Looking at the picture, one can easily notice the positive effect of yogurt on weight loss such that the fat on waist would disappear if constantly adopting the yogurt diet. And the presence of the scientific journals strengthens the credibility of a yogurt diet. Studies suggest that visualisation in advertisement is able to enhance the persuasiveness of messages as it could evoke consumers’ visual argumentation as well as positive inferences toward the product or the idea being advertised (Jeong, 2008; McQuarrie and Phillips, 2005). In this way, the visual images can strongly persuade individuals to drink more yogurts and to see whether they can also get themselves a slim waist.

Secondly, the photo of a youthful model shown in the ad conveys another persuasive technique—appearance-based attractiveness. Trampe et al. (2010) indicated notably high persuasiveness of advertisement when presenting a physically attractive model in it in which the product is particularly relevant to physical attractiveness. Consumers tended to hold more positive attitudes toward the product since they would like to attribute the model’s beauty to the use of the product and therefore wish themselves the same result. In this case, the physically attractive model with a bowl of yogurt is very likely to persuade readers that yogurt can indeed make them prettier and healthier.

The third persuasive technique involved in this ad is the effect of number. As can be seen clearly, concrete quantitative results indicating how much weight could be cut by a yogurt diet were extracted from the study of Reinehr et al. (2005). Research has claimed that using quantitative messages would probably distract recipients’ attention to the source of the information. And a reliable source, for example, a source with expertise, could significantly enhance persuasiveness (Yalch and Elmore-Yalch, 1984). The data in the ad above is derived from an academic study published on the International Journal of Obesity, which is highly likely to convince readers and persuade them on yogurt consumption.

Last but not least, photos of the two scientific journals, the statistical evidence, and the quote from a health expert all stand for the authority of health sciences and nutriology. Authority is one of the six persuasion principles proposed by Cialdini (1993), which suggests that people are inclined to go along with the authority in the corresponding domain usually with the uniformed symbol, for instance, doctors, police officers, judges, etc. In the ad, the journals, the study and the word “health experts” all remind readers of authority symbols regarding the field of food and diet. Hence, people can be persuaded more to consider yogurt.

So, here are the four persuasive techniques—visual persuasion, appearance-based attractiveness, number, and authority. Now go grab some yogurt to benefit your body and for weight loss.


Cialdini, R. (1993). Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. New York: Morrows.
Jeong, S. (2008).  Visual Metaphor in Advertising: Is the Persuasive Effect Attributable to Visual Argumentation or Metaphorical Rhetoric? Journal of Marketing Communications, 14, 59-73. 
McQuarrie, E. & Phillips, B. (2005). Indirect persuasion in advertising: How consumers process metaphors presented in pictures and words. Journal of Advertising, 34, 7-20. 
Reinehr, T., Roth, C., Alexy, U., Kersting, M., Kiess, W., & Andler, W. (2005). Ghrelin levels before and after reduction of overweight due to a low-fat high-carbohydrate diet in obese children and adolescents. International Journal of Obesity, 29, 362-368.
Trampe, D., Stapel, D., Siero, F., & Multer, H. (2010). Beauty as a tool: The effect of model attractiveness, product relevance, and elaboration likelihood on advertising effectiveness. Psychology and Marketing, 27, 1101-1121.
Yalch, R. & Elmore-Yalch, R. (1984). The effect of numbers on the route to persuasion. Journal of Consumer Research, 11, 522–527.

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