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.

Monday, March 19, 2018

I don't want breast cancer

I must admit, when I got this through my door it instantly angered me. I don’t know if I was in a rush, or a in particularly bad mood (usually the case). Maybe to others, this sentence - “Donate now if you want a future free of breast cancer” – is perfectly innocent. However, the way I read this was: If you do not donate, at some point in the future you will get breast cancer. I know that this isn’t what it is saying, but is the sentence structure purposefully ambiguous? Is it framed to by read either way? Manipulating how information is presented can significantly change any judgements or decisions that are based on that information (McClure, White & Sibley, 2009). For instance, I may have read that and thought, God, no I don’t want breast cancer – I need to donate to prevent this! Or I may have read that and thought, a future free of breast cancer for everyone would be amazing, but right now I’m late and I don’t have time to read on. Either way it annoyed me. And whether it was intended or not, it worked. It stuck in my mind and I ended up filling the sack and donating.


McClure, J., White, J., & Sibley, C. G. (2009). Framing effects on preparation intentions: Distinguishing actions and outcomes. Disaster Prevention and Management, 18, 187-199.

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