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, January 21, 2013

Let's battle acne together!

                    This is an advert for Proactiv, a company which sells a range of creams and scrubs to combat acne in males and females. This advert is targeted at people who have never used/tried their products, in order to encourage them to do so. Proactiv tends to employ celebrities to endorse their products (e.g. Katy Perry and Jessica Simpson). Conversely, here they employed a range of average people. The important distinction is that these people are not selling Proactiv through their words as celebrity spokespeople do, but rather through actions as they give us insight into their personal experiences with the products. The advertisement captures their individual transformations from feeling insecure about their looks to emerging as confident people, directly a result of using Proactiv.

                    The persuasive technique used is the similarity altercast. The people in the advert closely resemble the average viewers who may be battling with acne: they feel that their acne is impeding on their self-image and are motivated to do something about this problem. However, they have never used Proactiv and feel "nervous" about it. Considering the potential similarities between the person in the advert and the viewer (on this specific issue), this promotes a bond to be established between them (Pratkanis, 2007). Consequently, this feeds into the similarity hypothesis which claims that we trust, like and are influenced by people who are similar to us (Stiff & Mongeau, 2003). This concept is empirically supported by Mills and Kimble's (1973) experiment. In the experiment participants had to subjectively rank poetry in order of preference, but before they did this each participant was shown rankings made by another person. The participant was lead to believe that he or she had similar or dissimilar background characteristics to that person. The results showed that the participant’s subjective poetry rankings agreed more with the similar than dissimilar people’s rankings.


Mills, J., & Kimble, C.E. (1973). Opinion change as a function of perceived similarity of
the communicator and subjectivity of the issue.  Bulletin of Psychonomic Society, 2, 35-36.

Pratkanis, A. R. (2007). The Science of Social Influence: Advances and Future Progress. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Stiff, J. B., & Mongeau, P. A. (2003). Persuasive communication. (2nd Ed.). New York: Guilford.


  1. This advert is so powerful I actually feel like buying it and try it out now!

  2. Nicely done and good description of Mills and Kimble.


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