The aim of this advert is to get people to donate to Cancer Research UK. It uses the ‘just plain folks’ similarity altercast, the viewer sees the individuals in the advert as being similar to them (in that they are ‘common folk’) so they are more persuaded by their message. Also in this case it puts across to the viewer that it could happen to them too. It has been found that even trivial similarities between the source and recipient of a message can increase influence. Stotland, Zander and Natsoulas (1961) led participants to believe that they shared preferences for pieces of music with one confederate but not another. It was then found that participants were more likely to agree with the confederate who made similar music choices when rating nonsense syllables.
The similarity of the individuals in the advert also helps evoke feelings of empathy in the viewer. It has been found that if an individual feels empathetic concern for a person they are more likely to agree to help them. For example, Batson, Duncan, Ackerman, Buckley & Birch (1981) found that female college students with high empathy were more likely to help another student by taking electric shocks in her place, even when escape without helping was easy. Therefore this tactic should increase the number of people who decide to donate to Cancer Research.
Batson, C. D., Duncan, B. D., Ackerman, D., Buckley, T., & Birch, K. (1981). Is empathic emotion a source of altruistic motivation? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40, 290-302.
Stotland, E., Zander, A., & Natsoulas, T. (1961). Generalization of interpersonal similarity. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 62, 250-256.