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.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

We're organ donors, aren't you?

Leaving a piece of you behind:
For our project, we decided to focus on the topic of organ donation. According to the NHS, in 2016 there were 6362 people who needed organs and only 3529 donors. This discrepancy leads to many lives lost that could have been prevented. The UK is currently an opt-in country, meaning that people need to declare themselves donors rather than declaring their preference not to be. Other countries use an opt-out system, which Abadie and Gay (2006) found had a positive and large effect on organ donation rates. Petitions to the government to make the UK an opt-out country were met with a resounding no. People are generally not overly aware or enthusiastic about organ donation (Manninen & Evans, 1985). Thus, instead of petitioning the government, we wanted to influence people to sign up to become organ donors on the NHS website.

We created a 1:19 minute stop-motion video. The video titled ‘Leave a piece of you behind’ focused on the idea that when you die and donate an organ, a part of you is left behind and lives on inside another person. This idea of leaving yourself behind has become popular in recent news, with prevalent stories about parents hearing their children’s hearts in those who received them. The videos and news articles show how much of an impact the organ donation has had on both the families who gave and received. 
We also wanted to positively influence people to do so, by showing them through an optimistic animation what their effect can be. This was because positive advertising has been shown to have better effects than negative advertising (Malloy & Pearson-Merkowitz, 2016). Thus, we wanted to keep the video light-hearted, showing the good effects of organ donation rather than focusing on negative advertising such as blaming or shock tactics. Our video was posted to a Facebook page that we created: ‘We’re organ donors, aren’t you?’ 

Views and engagements:
The page itself received 35 likes but our focus was on the video which reached 5300 people. We decided that we would quantify behaviour change and our impact by measuring how many people clicked on the link to sign up. The insights page showed the 388 people clicked the link to the NHS organ donation page. Our video was shared 20 times, reaching more people each time. We also used views to help measure the success of our video, with a total of 823 people watching the video at the time of this blog post. 

The debate:
In addition to our video being watched and shared, it sparked a fierce debate between an anti-organ donor and a pro-organ donor in the comments of one Facebook share. The anti-organ donor believed that organ donation should be monetized while the pro-organ donor believed that it should not. In addition, several other people pitched in with their views on the matter. We felt that this debate challenged and encouraged people to engage with the topic, perhaps influencing them to sign up as a result of consistency and commitment to organ donation (Bem, 1972; Cialdini, 2001). This would not have occurred if the video that we created had not been shared and affected these people so deeply. 

Message from ITV show producer:
About a month after we posted the video and created the Facebook page, we were contacted by an ITV show producer through the page. This was in the hopes that we would be able to connect her with someone who was looking to donate organs or bone marrow to a family member. This shows that our video looked efficient and professional enough to be worth contacting. Unfortunately, we were unable to help, as we did not know anyone currently going through this process. We were glad, however, to learn that our video had reached and impacted a wide audience. 

Just ask:
‘Sign up to donate’. The Just Ask principle posits that in order to change behaviour, you just have to ask. Clark and Hatfield (1989) illustrated this technique by finding that 75% of males would agree to go to bed with a female confederate if they just asked. The ultimate goal of our project was to get people to sign up to be an organ donor, so by asking this question directly, it is hoped that more people would complete this action. People want to please others, so rarely say no to requests, especially when it is not a common question with a pre-prepared answer such as becoming an organ donor.

Mere exposure:
Zajonc’s (1968) mere exposure effect is the phenomena whereby individuals prefer things that they have had more exposure to, and are therefore more familiar with. Goetzinger (Zajonc, 1968) found that the more exposure students had to a black bag, the more pleasant they perceived it to be. Due to our video having multiple shares and likes on Facebook, other users will have had a lot of exposure to the video as it will be presented to them every time their ‘friends’ engage with the video. As a result it is hoped that the topic of organ donation will be seen more positively after our project, and ultimately lead to more organ donors. This is because the topic will be perceived as more of an important issue than before, which has the potential to save many lives.

Tversky and Kahneman (1973) propose that if we are able to retrieve something from memory easily, (i.e. when we have experienced something frequently) then we perceive it as being more important or true (Schwarz et al. 1991), leading to people accessing that issue more. By creating a video on the topic of organ donation we have increased its availability as a topic. People have encountered the subject recently, so should be able to retrieve it more easily, and thus perceive it as more important. By using Facebook as a medium for distribution we were able to use this as agenda setting theory; exposing people to the topic of organ donation, and emphasising them. Each time the video was shared on Facebook, friends of that person encountered organ donation again, therefore increasing availability further. As people are only directly asked if they want to be a donor when receiving their driving licence, this is not an issue which people often consider, this is why making organ donation relevant and available is so important.

By sharing the video to your Facebook page you are making a public statement in support of organ donation. Bem’s self-perception theory of attitudes (1972) suggests that your behaviour determines your attitudes, as we want to be consistent with our own behaviour in the past.  This is because we are uncomfortable with inconsistencies and conflicts in our own belief systems. Therefore if you have behaved as if you support organ donation (sharing or liking our video) you are more likely to be consistent and become an organ donor in the future.

Hovland, Janis and Kelley (1953) suggested the Yale Attitude Change approach, citing the source, message and messenger as important aspects of persuasion. The source’s authority was important in influencing people to change their behaviour and attitudes. We used the NHS link and banner, linking our page and video to a reliable and authoritative source. A successful message contains humorous and emotional content, appealing to system one. Our video used stop-motion cartoon style drawings, which were intended to be cute and funny. However, it also contained the emotional content of someone who was very sick finally receiving the organ they needed from a donor who then lives on inside of them. Hovland and Weiss (1951) suggested the attitude of the audience towards the communicator is essential and a younger audience is more easily influenced. The use of social media (Facebook) to spread our message targets 18-25 year olds. This age is more easily influenced, making social proof stronger.

Social proof and similarity: 
Social proofing was done through the page title ‘We’re organ donors, aren’t you?’ Social proofing suggests people cue their actions based those before them (Cialdini, 2009). They emulate others in order to exhibit the correct behaviour for the situation. By saying we are organ donors and asking why the audience is not, we are acting in favour of organ donation so others act the same way. They think what we are doing is the correct behaviour for the situation and copy it. When people are liking and sharing our video, those who have not would experience fear of not being included, conforming by doing the same. This shows normative social influence. Suki, Suki, Mohtar and Ahmad (2015) conducted an experiment looking at the effects of normative and informational social influence in online activity, showing people use social networking sites and electronic word of mouth to make opinions. Our experiment, therefore, used social proofing in social media to influence others towards organ donation through trying to be similar to and accepted by their peers.

Consequence template:
Our video demonstrates the ‘consequence’ of organ donation in a simplified and exaggerated way. The video suggests that when you donate an organ, that part of you ‘lives on’. This is persuasive according to the work of Goldenburg, Mazursky and Solomon (1999) who identified the consequence template as one of the six fundamental templates for quality advertisement. They suggest that a successful advert can feature either the positive consequence of doing something (as in our video), or the negative consequence of not doing it. They suggest that successful adverts using this template include two key elements. The first is that the consequences in the advert must be based on true fact, something which our video fulfills. The idea that a part of you will continue to function elsewhere when you die is true of organ donation. The second element says that the consequences must be easily identified as exaggerated or irrational. This is also true of our video.

System 1 and 2 
System 1 and 2 refer to two different channels of processing, one implicit and unconscious (system 1) and the other effortful and conscious (system 2) (Kahneman, 2011). Different techniques can be used to appeal to these two systems and cause a change in behavior, though when information is processes using system 2, the behavior change tends to be more meaningful and long term.
The video appeals to both systems of processing, which means that it has the best chance of changing behavior. We appealed to the instinctive System 1 by using a cute, uncomplicated video, with attractive music and drawings. This helped to draw in the audience and keep their attention. However, at the end of the video, we appealed to system 2, using facts about the number of organ donations per year versus the number waiting for a donation.


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Emma Horton, Sofia Rodriguez, Emily Townsend, Sarah Tarran 

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