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.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Children See. Children Do.

This is a television advertisement which was aired in Australia a few years ago by NAPCAN. This video showed how children learned from their parents’ socially undesirable behaviors and it tried to persuade parents to make their influences positive. The most important persuasive tactics in this advert is to create anticipatory regret to the target parents. 

Regret is a negative emotion that is elicited when our decision may not work out as we want it to. By anticipating such regret, we will attempt to minimize self-blame. This can be done by either avoiding the behavior that causes regret, or carrying out the behavior so we will not regret for not doing so. Recent research showed that anticipatory regret can be a motivator for playing the National Lottery (Briggs & Wolfson, 2002). In their experiment, random lottery players filled in the questionnaires which were placed near lottery outlets in two major supermarkets. In the questionnaire, participants were asked about the intentions to play the National Lottery. Participants were also asked about the amount and pattern of lottery play, participation in other forms of gambling, and a range of attitudes regarding the lottery. Eighty-five percent of the questions took the form of Likert-format scales, with 1-5 range. The table below showed the percentage of agreeing the reasons of playing Lottery. Their results found that the most popular reason for playing lottery was ‘I’d be upset if my regular number came up and I didn’t have a ticket.’ This result showed that anticipatory regret can cause a certain behavior which prevent us from experiencing regret.

In this advert, the negative behaviors of parents (e.g. smoking, domestic violence, disrespects towards others, etc) are repeatedly shown, each followed by their children imitating their parents’ behaviors. This can elicit regret emotion to target parents who may have carried out such behaviors before. Target parents may be successfully persuaded to behave properly as a good model for their children.


Briggs, P., & Wolfson, S. (2002). Locked into gambling: Anticipatory regret as a motivator for playing the National Lottery. Journal of Gambling Studies, 18(1), 1-17

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