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.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Shrink your stress, stretch your grades

My project involved students writing down a grateful thought everyday for a week, with my target being to reduce their stress and thus allow for better exam performance. Studies show that excessive stress, which has a negative correlation with student performance, can be ameliorated via positive thinking.

Thus, fliers with 7 daily slots for writing grateful thoughts and rating stress level were not only distributed but also placed on tables in the Student Union atrium, the library, Tocil hall and PAIS common room to attract students.

The rationale for putting the fliers around campus was the availability heuristic; the more people saw the flier, the more likely they were to pick it up (Pratkanis, Pratkanis & Aronson, 2001).

The goal was for individuals to deposit anonymous feedback on their stress and positivity level at the end of the week in a drop box so I could measure the efficacy of the intervention. Hence, the flier had a statement saying "by returning this section, you agree to the use of your anonymous feedback for research purposes", to account for informed consent. However, I did not get substantial responses to allow for proper deduction. 

Nonetheless, I believe this project aided positivity and stress relief in students. Future interventions can use a more comprehensive method of participant recruitment and follow-up to gather necessary data for true empirical support.

Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of personality and social psychology, 84(2), 377.
Pratkanis, A. R., Pratkanis, A., & Aronson, E. (2001). Age of propaganda: The everyday use and abuse of persuasion. Macmillan.

Vanessa Ajagu

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