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, March 21, 2018

Are you sure? An example of Just Asking

I sometimes sign online petitions. I find that it’s a quick and easy way to show support for something and I am happy to take a minute or two out of my day to do it. However, I have noticed that the websites running petitions often use a range of persuasion techniques to get me to do more than just sign – from guilt-tripping me into donating to telling me that several of my friends have shared the petition, so I should too. This particular example is of possibly the simplest persuasion technique – just asking. If you just ask someone to do you a favour, they often will do it. For instance, Hald and Hogh-Olesen (2010) found that nearly a third of men said yes when 'just asked' to go on a date with a female stranger. This petition cleverly manages to ‘just ask’ me twice – first, I have to click to say that I do not want to receive updates. Once I have done this, a little red message appears asking if I’m sure. I was sure, but that message still made me stop, think for a second, and nearly fall into the trap of just being asked!


Hald, G. M., & Hogh-Olesen, H. (2010). Receptivity to sexual invitations from strangers of the opposite gender. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31, 453-458.

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