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.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The taboo topic that needs addressing

Breastfeeding. Most people have an opinion on it and those who don’t probably haven’t thought about it much, but one thing is clear, it’s a taboo subject. In western culture, we don’t tend to talk about women’s breast in any context except a sexual one; perhaps this is why so many individuals are uncomfortable with seeing breastfeeding. The common association with breasts is one of desire and inappropriateness, rather than one of nurture and care. Because of this, many women experience anxiety over breastfeeding in public and when they do feed their child in public, they are often subject to negative comments.

This ad campaign aimed to bring to the attention the topic of asking nursing mothers to “go do it in the bathroom”. The advert originated in Texas, a state where breastfeeding women have no legal protection against harassment or refusal of service in public.

The adverts have been criticised for being too “graphic” however it might be that this was the exact intention of the designers. The mere exposure effect suggests that the more we see something we more we like it. By posting these advertisements in public places, perhaps when individuals see real Mothers breastfeeding in public, they will have less of a negative reaction towards it.

Furthermore, the contrast displayed here between the phrases, and the visual setting catches our attention. Private dining, bon appetite and table for two are all phrases we might associate with fine dining whereas the grey lighting and sombre facial expressions give the impression of quite the opposite. Naturally, adverts which don’t meet our expectations do stand out to us. They are salient and this makes them more memorable.  

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