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, February 28, 2018

Censoring lyrics at the Brit Awards

At the Brit Awards this year, Kendrick Lamar's performance was "ruined" by ITV, who censored his lyrics, muting them a total of ten times during his performance.

According to the scarcity principle, we place more value on information that is difficult to obtain, or, as in this case, hidden from us (Cialdini, 2007). This can be explained by psychological reactance theory, which describes how we hate to lose the freedom we already have, so when something threatens our free choice, we react against this by desiring what is banned even more (Brehm, 1966). Not only do we want to receive the information more, but once we do receive it, we have a more favourable attitude towards it. In one experiment, university students given an advertisement for a new novel labelled with an age restriction not only wanted to read the book more, but believed they would like the book more than students who didn't have restricted access to the book (Zellinger, Fromkin, Speller, & Kohn, 1975).

Therefore, muting Kendrick's lyrics may have had a positive effect on the popularity of his performance, as it may have caused viewers to seek out the information that was hidden from them, and end up having a more favourable opinion towards his music.

Brehm, J. W. (1966). A theory of psychological reactance. New York: Academic Press.

Cialdini, R. B. (2007). Influence: The psychology of persuasion. New York: Collins.

Zellinger, D. A., Fromkin, H. L., Speller, D. E., & Kohn, C. A. (1975). A commodity theory analysis of the effects of age restrictions upon pornographic materials. Journal of Applied Psychology, 60(1), 94-99.

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