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.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Con-trast Principle

A couple of years ago my 13-year old car broke down on the motorway, meaning I had to pull up on the hard shoulder of an extremely busy road. Because of this, I decided I wanted to purchase a newer, safer car- which would not leave me stranded on the side of the M40.

I went to a local garage and purchased one of their cars, however, it wasn’t until much later that I realised that the salesman had tricked me into all the extra ‘add-ons’, by using Cialdini’s (2007) contrast principle.

This was done by first presenting me with the price of the car, and then presenting the prices of all the extras – which were obviously much cheaper.This technique affects the way we perceive the two different prices – and means we believe the less expensive price to be much cheaper than it really is, as we are comparing it to the initial expensive one. 

As a result, I ended up agreeing to pay extra money for car mats, warranty, and fancy alloys- all of which I didn’t need.

This experience has meant I am now aware of this technique which salespeople employ and will be much more vigilant next time I make an expensive purchase.

Cialdini, R. B., & Cialdini, R. B. (2007). Influence: The psychology of persuasion (pp. 11). New York: Collins.

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