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.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Canada Goose Phenomenon

I can’t be the only one that’s sick of seeing these coats absolutely everywhere. Not only are they ludicrously expensive (average lowest starting price of around £700 for a full parka coat) but they are the fastest growing, modern brand I can think of that advertises their use of real fur. In an age where most people on average care about animal rights, as a result of the growing animal rights movement (TraÏni, 2013), it seems a bit illogical that many would suddenly find the use of real coyote fur to be acceptable. This effect may be explained by a number of decision making techniques.

Social Proof
Cialdini (2007) describes social proof as a heuristic used to choose what is correct by looking at what others think is correct. As Canada Goose has a very obvious and exterior branding patch, it’s easily recognisable. This means when in public, those wearing the brand can use this to identify others like them. This then seemingly justifies their behaviour (ignoring the murder of animals) as “if others do this, then it must be okay”.

System 1 thinking (Kahneman & Frederick, 2002)
If people don’t know much about the brand, they may use the peripheral routes to persuasion outlined in the Elaboration Likelihood Model (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). This is the route where the strength of the argument is not considered but rather surface features of the argument are the key to the decision making e.g. “do I like the colours?”. As there are multiple images of celebrities wearing Canada Goose Jackets, this may influence those using this method of thinking into purchasing a coat like theirs as they may not think of the consequences for the animals involved.  As this is an associative judgement (celebrities opinion = good), this could be described as system 1 thinking.
Daniel Craig & Emma Stone captured wearing Canada Goose
Sunk Costs
As mentioned – these coats are a very significant investment (usually upwards of £700). The ‘Sunk Cost Effect’ (Arkes & Blumer, 1985) outlines the greater tendency to follow through with a decision once an investment (of time, effort or money) has been made. This may mean that those who are buying these coats could potentially feel trapped by their decision and have to follow through and wear it, despite what their beliefs may be. In fact, if they care about animal rights they may feel even more inclined to wear it as they may not want to feel that this animal has died needlessly.

 This current trend has lead to a large backlash from the Animal Rights community. PETA in particular have been very vocal on this issue and have been circulating a video of exactly what happens to the animals caught by this company ("The Epic Twitter Backlash Against Canada Goose", 2016). Whilst it's slightly too graphic to post here, you can view both the video (should you have the stomach for it) and a number of comments made on twitter about the issue here -


Arkes, H. R., & Blumer, C. (1985). The psychology of sunk cost. Organizational behavior and human decision processes, 35(1), 124-140.
Cialdini, R. B. (2007). Influence: The psychology of persuasion (pp. 173-174). New York: Collins.
Kahneman, D., & Frederick, S. (2002). Representativeness revisited: Attribute substitution in intuitive judgment. Heuristics and biases: The psychology of intuitive judgment49, 81.
Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion. In Communication and persuasion (pp. 1-24). Springer New York.
The Epic Twitter Backlash Against Canada Goose. (2016). PETA. Retrieved 18 March 2018, from
TraÏni, C. (2013). Animal Rights Movement. The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social and Political Movements.

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