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, April 27, 2016

Surviving the Stress Age

Stress is an increasingly prevalent issue, particularly in students who are often newly independent young adults whobeing introduced to certain challenges they must encounter for the first time. Stress has been linked with both negative physiological and psychological health outcomes (Goldenhar, 2005), as well as behavioural outcomes such as poorer performance in exams, which is especially relevant for students just prior to exam periods. 

With this in mind, a self-help technique was devised in order to help students cope with their stress. The self-help technique incorporates ideas from positive psychology – grateful thoughts are crucial to subjective well-being. Utilising these principles, people were asked to generate a grateful thought each day, with the idea being that this change in mind set will lead to a reduction in stress. 

On the advert itself, two main persuasive techniques were implemented to increase the likelihood of students engaging with the positive behaviour change procedure.

Firstly, the advert contains a manded altercast – a technique which makes a social role salient with the hope of this effecting their future behaviour. Students within the project were made aware of the importance of their role as a student in coping with the stress that comes with it. Also, the project utilised source credibility, promoting the fact that ‘experts’ from the field of psychology promote exercises like our self-help technique to reduce stress and enhance subjective well-being (Hovland and Weiss, 1951). 

Students who participated were encouraged to write a grateful thought down in each of the boxes, every day for a week. It was anticipated that following this week, participants would feel significantly less stressed and be on route to a developing a behaviour which would enable them to cope with any future stressful situations. 

Hovland, C. I., & Weiss, W. (1951). The influence of source credibility on communication effectiveness. Public Opinion Quarterly, 15, 635-650. 
Goldenhar, R. M. (2005). The effects of a stress reduction intervention on quality of life in psoriasis patients. Dissertation abstracts international: section b: the sciences and engineering, 66, 1169

Daniel Bell, Disha Koshal & Vanessa Ajagu

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