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 16, 2018


The Always campaign ‘#LikeAGirl’ aims to change the attitudes of females across ages by changing how people perceive the phrase ‘like a girl’ and setting an example for all young girls. They are encouraging girls to not hold back and create a protective environment for them as they go through puberty. 

Short & Simple Hashtag - easy to remember 
I first came across this advert in 2014 and to this day it always stuck with me. The short message behind the video is easy to relate to the well-used hashtag. Through availability heuristic (Tversky & Kahneman, 1973), messages such as ‘like a girl’ are easily retrieved and increases the likelihood in determining a behaviour- to not live up to the stigma behind the phrase and never let any limitations of being a ‘girl’ hold them back. 

Social media is currently flooded by female empowerment and as such this Always campaign is still active and relevant after years of running. The video itself has had 64 million views, as well as being one of a few 2015 Super Bowl Advertisements. The exposure effect (Zajonc, 1968) suggests that people tend to listen and react to the message they are familiar with. With an increase in internet use by the pre-puberty population, this hashtag exposure will start to break down the barriers behind the phrase ‘Like a girl’. A more recent example is #LikeAGirl being used in relation to the 2018 Winter Olympics which would have reached a large audience, as a result increasing female confidence during puberty and shaping the way society views girls. 

Emotional investment 
The 2 minutes 42-second advert sends an emotional message to the older viewers. You see young girls throw as hard as they can and run as fast as they can because to the young girl, ‘run like a girl means to run as fast as you can’. However, ‘like a girl’ doesn’t have the same impact on the older adults shown in the video where viewers come to a realisation that they would probably respond similarly to the questions as they had (going along with the stigmatised idea of ‘like a girl’.) The dual processing theory (Brewer, 1988) suggests through system 1 thinking, emotional messages are processed quicker and therefore increases the likelihood of getting on board with the messages behind the advertisement. Additionally, many of the viewers may have faced obstacles themselves due to their gender or being faced with stigmatisation, so the level of personal relevance to this advert could increase the level of persuasion impact (Ghuge, 2010). 

In the first three months of the campaign being launch, it had already had been mentioned in 177,000 tweets, including celebrities. Reviews on the impact of celebrity have found that younger populations are more like to be influenced by sports celebrity role models compared to older populations (Bush et al, 2004). This, in turn, can come as a benefit, as this population is also the target age Always is trying to influence. From such a large number of people getting on board with the campaign, it can act as social proof (Calandi, 2007), to show young girls getting on board with the idea and not letting failures stop them and to do their best in all aspects of life. Celebrities who have vocalised their appreciation of the campaign can have an impact on someone’s attitude towards female achievement. The Elaboration-Likelihood Model (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986) shows that the influence of celebrities can be a positive source to change attitudes towards ‘like a girl’. 

Moreover, successful female celebrities can act as role models for young girls, through social learning theory (Bandua & Walters, 1977) the behaviour of girls being copied from celebrities they look up to. It can also impact the viewers' self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977) to adopt the behaviour to achieve and don’t let anything stop them, by viewing the success of others breaking down the phrase ‘Like a girl’. 

Changing attitudes of achieving 
Theory of Reasoned action is presented by Fishbein & Ajzen (1975). Always is trying to improve girls’ attitudes towards their abilities and their behaviour towards achieving the best they can. The stigma attached to ‘like a girl’ could have limited the likelihood of girls participating in activities due to expecting to fail just like society suggests. Improving the attitudes to perform the behaviour achieving the best they can increase the likelihood to run as fast as they can and to try their absolute hardest to accomplish their goals. 

Why is this so important? 
Previous studies have looked into girls’ self-esteem levels during puberty and, in comparison to boys, their levels drop twice as much (Robins et al 2002) (Graph showing the drop in self-esteem in all ages however girls much lower than boys between 7 year old to late teens). It is imperative to encourage girls to try their best, and should they be failing to keep going until they achieve what they want and never let society put them down. 

Social models and campaigns like this one is vital for a girl’s confidence during this challenging time and therefore Always going beyond their brand of female hygiene and periods, and onto female empowerment, is very important at this stage. 

Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological review, 84(2), 191. 

Bandura, A., & Walters, R. H. (1977). Social learning theory(Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-hall. 

Brewer, M. B. (1988). A dual process model of impression formation. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. 

Bush, A. J., Martin, C. A., & Bush, V. D. (2004). Sports celebrity influence on the behavioral intentions of generation Y. Journal of advertising research, 44(1), 108-118. 

Cialdini, R. B (2007). Influence: The psychology of persuasion (pp. 173-174). New York: Collins. 

Fishbein, M., & Ajzen, I. (1975). Belief, attitude, intention and behavior: An introduction to theory and research. 

Ghuge, S. (2010). The role of personal relevance and mood on the persuasive impact of gain and loss frames in advertising messages about a vaccine against alcohol addiction. Iowa State University. 

Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion. In Communication and persuasion (pp. 1-24). Springer New York. 

Robins, R. W., Trzesniewski, K. H., Tracy, J. L., Gosling, S. D., & Potter, J. (2002). Global self-esteem across the life span. Psychology and aging, 17(3), 423.) 

Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1973). Availability: A heuristic for judging frequency and probability. Cognitive psychology, 5(2), 207-232. 

Zajonc, R. B. (1968). Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of personality and social psychology, 9(2p2), 1.

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