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.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

When Knowledge Isn't Power   

Over the past few months, Donald Trump, Corruption, Racism and Police brutality have become very popular themes on social media.  The Oscars are being boycotted due to a lack of coloured nominees, “how to make a murderer” is trending, videos of police men shooting unarmed citizens are everywhere and Donald Trump who spent his campaign promoting hate and prejudiced is president-elect of the USA. 

Somewhere along the line this became the new normal. Why?

Systematic desensitisation and overexposure. Sometimes, psychologists treat phobias by exposing their patients to what scares them. The idea is that when the patients spend enough
time with what they are afraid of, they see that there is no harm and get used to it. The same applies to a lot of the issues we face today. These issues are constantly there, on the news, online, always in the background and because they do not always have a direct impact on us (cause us harm),

we just get used to it.

However, even when we get upset and disturbed we react passively. We share posts, write long statuses and leave comments on things we don't approve of, we rarely actively try to make a difference. After all, knowledge is power and the people exposed can be held accountable.
Unfortunately, that logic is flawed.  It doesn’t account for the application of knowledge. We may know what is going on, and know that it’s wrong but…

…We don’t know what do to about it.

The advert above is an example of a media campaign that aims to produce associations between two individual by drawing similarities. Though, associating Donald Trump to hitler might have provoked an urge to stop him, this ad provides no information on how.
Research has shown that just having information is not enough (Smith & Petty, 1996). For adverts to be effective they need to  provide information on how the target behaviour can be changed for example, you are more likely to use a health service if you know it is an option and how to access it (wakefield, Loken & Hoenick, 2010). Also, two sided messages providing both negative and positive perspective and information are more effective than one sided messages (Alden & Crowley, 1995)

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