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.

Friday, March 2, 2018

GBK gave me a present… for their birthday??

Gourmet Burger Kitchen (also known as GBK) is a fantastic food chain offering mouth-watering burgers, milkshakes and sides. I’m sure you can imagine my delight when I received an email from them stating that I get a ‘completely free milkshake’ as a ‘present’!

I had already started mentally planning my next trip! Then as I continued to read on, the realisation hit that I had to spend £7 to redeem my ‘free’ gift… not so free anymore! This is a perfect example of the reciprocity effect, the idea that you feel more obliged to return a favour to someone if they have previously given you something for free or done you a favour (Cialdini, 2007). In the case of GBK, they are giving me a free milkshake so I feel obliged to spend £7. This is a great money-making tactic enforced by GBK because it probably costs them nothing to provide a milkshake, whereas it costs me £7 (or more when you want chips too…!).

They then inform us that ‘good things don’t last forever’, inducing fear into the reader when they realise they only have 2 weeks to redeem their ‘free’ item. GBK have used the scarcity principle here, increasing the readers desire to snap up their free milkshake ASAP due to the limited time it is available (Cialdini, 2007). Brehm and Weintraub (1977) demonstrated this as they found that when something (in their case a toy) has limited access, it becomes a more desirable option when compared to something more accessible. Therefore, GBK placed a 2 week deadline on their free milkshake to make people want it more.

GBK, I admire your attempt to reel more customers in… it worked for me!


Brehm, S. S., & Weintraub, M. (1977). Physical barriers and physiological reactance: Two-year olds' responses to threats to freedom. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 830-836.

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

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