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, May 1, 2018

#WheresMyShade? Representativeness in makeup shades

We focused our project on raising awareness of the lack of diversity in make-up shades available in and around the Warwick university campus. Prior to starting our project, students from BAME groups, who represent 38.4% of students, were often unable to find make up in their shade on campus and had to travel as far as Birmingham (over 40 minutes away) to find make up in their shade.

The topic was particularly salient to us as a group because we come from different ethnic backgrounds, (White British, British African and British Asian), and share an interest in the beauty industry. Our first approach to tackling the issue, involved talking with Danielle, a representative from Warwick Anti-Racism society, and starting a Facebook poll to measure general interest levels.

Following this we arranged a meeting with Namir Chowdhury, the Ethnic Minorities Officer at the Students Union (SU). This allowed us to collect relevant statistics on the numbers of BAME students, and offered us a platform to pitch our ideas to representatives of the wider student body. When it was clear that Namir was on our side we sought insight from an external body.

This took the form of meeting Geoff Skingsley the chairman of L’Oreal UK and Ireland, the
world’s largest cosmetics company through a talk held through the Warwick Business School. We knew that L’Oreal produced a 28 shade make up range called “True Match” which was designed to match 98% of UK skintones and had an ongoing commitment to promoting diversity in the beauty industry. We had not considered, however, the extent to which providing a diverse range of make-up shades simply makes economic sense – a factor Mr Skingsley highlighted to us as we spoke to him on our project after the event.

Once we had enough background research to go into negotiations, we asked to speak to the manager of shops in and around campus e.g. Tesco, who failed to provide shades suitable for BAME customers, while stocking a wide range of shades for Caucasian skin tones. We took advice from Dale Carnegie’s book “How to win Friends and Influence People” and made sure to smile, use names, and clearly explain how adding more shades could be in their interest.

Unfortunately, after several unproductive phone calls with head offices of these stores (following referral by in-store employees), we came to realise that this could be a very long process, and decided to focus our attention on the on-campus Chemist. In meeting with the Chemist, we highlighted the issue of lack of inclusivity in the makeup shades available within the shop and pointed out that this did not align with Warwick’s commitment to diversity.  We waited after sharing the problem, allowing for him to fill the silence with an expression of agreement and desire to do what he could to bring about change. We then provided examples of more inclusive brands to contact to provide makeup stands. We exchanged contacts and emailed to-and-fro throughout the term, discussing difficulties he was having with the store’s suppliers. His agreement to keep us updated seemed to have invoked the desire to be consistent with this resolve to improve the range of shades available and eventually a preliminary more inclusive line of shades was introduced to the store. Upon receiving our feed-back he acknowledged that the brand of more inclusive makeup was of a lower standard than others sold in the store e.g. Bourjois, and committed to seeking to introduce a higher quality and more well-known brand such as Sleek.

More recently, we took part in a student radio show in order to raise awareness of our project, the issue of inclusivity and diversity more generally and to empower others to seek to make similar changes in their own local community. We are also looking into the possibility of having an article written by a Warwick alumni and journalist for the Sunday Times so keep your eyes peeled!

Also, our radio interview will be uploaded soon so watch this space...

Research Justifications

Landscaping – a.k.a. pre-persuasion, structuring the situation in a way that made the Chemist more likely to be positively receptive to our proposition (Pratkanis & Aronson, 2001). This was achieved by beginning the conversation by pointing out the lack of makeup for our shades (Divya and Debbie).

Negativity effect – our emphasis on the absence of available shades was a deliberate choice to create impact on the chemist’s evaluation of there not being provision for non-white students. This is supported by work by Hodges (1974), who found that negative information has a greater impact than positive information on individuals’ evaluations of others after subjects were provided with personality descriptors of people to evaluate.

Story-telling – this is providing a causal framework for evidence/facts. We shared the fact that there was a lack of diversity of makeup to the chemist through the framework of personal experience. Deborah and Divya drew attention to the likely lack of awareness/complaint made to him due to people of colour having low expectations and not recognizing our entitlement to visibility and inclusion in shade availability on campus simply accepting the need to travel further to find affordable makeup in our shades.

Source credibility and similarity altercast – we had carried our research prior to speaking to the chemist and were of the in-group (Abrams, Wetherell, Cochrane, Hogg and Turner, 1990) both of BAME students who were disadvantaged, and BAME individuals generally (like the chemist himself). This may have been influential as Berscheid (1966) found that similarity between the target and the influencer was effective in increasing influence if the similarity was relevant to the issue being promoted.

Public audience - we asked what the chemist could do about the lack of inclusive makeup when other customers and an employee were present in the store and observing our interaction with him. This was to apply findings by Rind and Benjamin (1994) who found that male shoppers who asked to purchase raffle tickets to support a nonprofit purchased almost twice as many tickets when with a female companion than when alone.

Using imagery to sell the idea – we emphasized the amount of business that would be garnered by an increase in BAME customers seeking affordable makeup if their shades were provided. This is supported by findings by Gregory, Cialdini and Carpenter (1982) who found that customers asked to imagine the benefits of personally having cable television and their potential enjoyment of it were 2 and a half times more likely to purchase a subscription from door to door salesmen than if they were merely informed of its benefits.

To summarise...

By Debbie, Divya and Elizabeth 


Abrams, D., Wetherell, M., Cochrane, S., Hogg, M. A., & Turner, J. C. (1990). Knowing what to think by knowing who you are: Self‐categorization and the nature of norm formation, conformity and group polarization. British Journal of Social Psychology29(2), 97-119.

Berscheid, E. (1966). Opinion change and communicator-communicatee similarity and dissimilarity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology4(6), 670.

Gregory, W. L., Cialdini, R. B., & Carpenter, K. M. (1982). Self-relevant scenarios as mediators of likelihood estimates and compliance: Does imagining make it so?. Journal of personality and social psychology43(1), 89.

Hodges, B. H. (1974). Effect of valence on relative weighting in impression formation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology30(3), 378.

Pratkanis, A. R., & Aronson, E. (2001). Age of propaganda: The everyday use and abuse of persuasion. Macmillan.

Rind, B., & Benjamin, D. (1994). Effects of public image concerns and self-image on compliance. The Journal of Social Psychology134(1), 19-25.

In video:
Malhotra, D., & Bazerman, M. H. (2008). Negotiation genius: How to overcome obstacles and achieve brilliant results at the bargaining table and beyond. Bantam.

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