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

They terk err jerbs!

As pictured above, Britain First claim to be “taking our country back”. They are however using hatemongering and xenophobia to do so (Snowdon, 2017). In the recent elections, groups such as Britain First, and the political part UKIP garnered far more support than most people ever imagined possible. In a worrying escalation of Islamophobia and racism, hate crimes have soared (Khan & Watts, 2017). This is not purely a British problem, as the US have also had a similar uprising under Donald Trump’s reign (Shugerman, 2017).

One major tactic used by groups (and presidents) to stir the pot, is by feeding information to the public which causes something called psychological reactance. Psychological reactance is the desire to fight against perceived threats to their freedom (Kornberg, Linder, & Cooper, 1970). It happens when a person feels that they are being backed into a corner and must thus react.

In the case of Britain First, UKIP and Donald Trump, their campaigns were fuelled by claims that the opposition wanted to allow or refused to curtail certain things such as increased immigration, funding of refugees from suspect areas (Islamic countries) and the implementation of Sharia Law (Shariatmadari, 2017). This is a motivated approach to manipulate the public into furthering their own agendas, often racist in nature (Lartey, 2018). The large spike in psychological reactance can be accredited to these groups, seizing on opportunities such as terrorism around the globe, preying on people’s fear. Awareness is crucial, as these agendas have begun to morph into something capable of erupting into full scale hate wars.


Khan, S., & Watts, J. (2017). Paul Nuttall claims spike in hate crimes following Brexit is 'fabricated'. Retrieved from

Lartey, J. (2018). Racism and Donald Trump: A common thread throughout his career and life. Retrieved from

Kornberg, A., Linder, D., & Cooper, J. (1970). Understanding political behavior: The relevance of reactance theory. Midwest Journal of Political Science, 14, 131-138.

Shariatmadari, D. (2017). Britain First may be fringe, but its anti-Islam views aren’t. Retrieved from

Shugerman, E. (2017). KKK leader claims hate group has grown at record pace since Trump became President. Retrieved from

Snowdon, K. (2017). Britain First's Incorrect Use of Animal Aid's 'Halal Slaughterhouse Footage' Slammed by Campaigners. Retrieved from

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