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, December 9, 2016

Gays and Lesbians in Mainstream Media

The message in question here is specifically how the representation of same-sex couples in media and advertisements influences the success of an advert. Examples of such representation can be found in Sainsbury's 2016 Christmas Advert in which two same sex couples were used as figure heads for 'families celebrating Christmas'. This exposure to more diverse family dynamics that represent the minority groups in question is a persuasion method and marketing technique we can look into. An explanation of the effect that such portrayals have is made relevant through Heider's Attribution Theory (1958), more specifically, Internal Attribution. Internal Attribution is a form of persuasion in which the message intentionally caters to the audience by using models within the advertisement that can be individually related to. Oakenfull et al. (2008) goes on to explain that marketers consider homosexuals to be a desirable market. Additionally, their study goes on to discover that homosexual viewers are much more easily influenced with gay and lesbian subcultural references incorporated; comparatively to the more mainstream media. Minorities collectively make up a large proportion of most desired demographics, therefore, appealing to such would be seen as beneficial and successfully influential to whatever message is being presented. Research regarding the negative effects of homosexual representation in advertisements (specifically regarding the overt exposure to a perceived 'area of controversy') isn't deemed necessary; because proportionately, the benefits outweigh the losses, and minorities are a much more desirable demographic for companies that wish to use inclusivity as a means of influence.


Heider, F. (1958). The psychology of interpersonal relations. New York: Wiley.

Oakenfull, Gillian K.; McCarthy, Michael S.; Greenlee, Timothy B. (2008). Journal of advertising research 48.2: 191-198.

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