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, January 20, 2013

Not For Girls

The Yorkie chocolate bar was designed to take on female-targeted brands such as Cadbury’s Dairy Milk and provide an alternative aimed at men. Consistent with this, Nestlé launched the ‘Not For Girls’ campaign in 2002.

Nestlé have used demographic positioning, focussing on gender, to target the specific market of male consumers. Although initially this could be perceived as a risky strategy, explicitly forbidding women had the potential of boosting sales. By informing women they are not allowed to buy the chocolate, attention to the product is immediately heightened. According to self-perception theory (Bem, 1972) people develop attitudes about themselves by observing their own behaviour. Female consumers will interpret the heightened attention to the ‘forbidden chocolate’ as a want for that chocolate. 

Coupling this with psychological reactance, women are likely to want to ‘break the rules’ and purchase the chocolate.  Psychological reactance occurs in response to threats to perceived behavioural freedoms. Pressure to accept a certain view can cause the person to adopt or strengthen an attitude that is contrary to what is intended (Clee & Wicklund, 1980). How psychological reactance works was demonstrated by Brehem (1966), who investigated the effects that product unavailability had on product attractiveness. In the first task participants listened and evaluated four audio records. They were then informed they would listen to the same records, evaluate them for a second time and choose one to keep. However before listening to the records for the second time they were informed that one of the records was not available to choose to keep. In each case the the record that was reported as unavailable was previously rated as the participants third choice. In the second session this record increase in attractiveness - 67% of those participants who had their third choice eliminated rasied their evaluation. Nestlé have informed women they cannot have the chocolate which is likely to result in the attractiveness of the product increasing. 

Further to this Nestlé have used humorous stereotypes to highlight differences between men and women – for example by implying men are better drivers than women. Operant conditioning theory views humour as a reward for listening to the advertising message. A humorous and therefore more rewarding advert should be better remembered than a similar non-humorous advert (Duncan, 1979).

Bem, D. J. (1972). Self-perception theory. Advances in experimental social psychology, 6, 1 -62.

Brehem, J. W. (1966). A theory of psychological reactance. New York: Academic Press. 

Clee, M. A., & Wicklund, R. A. (1980). Consumer behaviour and psychological reactance. Journal of consumer research, 6, 389 – 405.

Duncan, C. (1979). Humour in advertising: A behavioural perspective. Journal of the academy of marketing science, 7, 285 – 306.


  1. Nice reporting on Brehm (misspeling here).

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  3. Very nice. I'm an old girl and I bought Yorkie instantly when I saw it here in an American food imports store. I'm familiar with English chocolate and I was looking for a solid chocolate bar. I also liked th fact that it was thick and didn't have nuts. Also I loved the funny clever caption. Truly funny doesn't come along often, particularly in a PC atmosphere. But as far as actual product I learned a long time ago not to expect much (even from so called hi end products) so I bought it knowing at best I would get lo grade overly sweet watered down chocolate and milk, with flavorings and cheap replacements / extenders for cocoa fat and milk. I bought it for the shape 'n texture (which nevertheless has also declined but not as much) and the faint scent/content of a little bit of actual-chocolate underneath th cheap perfumes doused upon it. I also bought it because it was less lo-grade than than the average candy bar. What's lacking in chocolate today, I have learned to supplement with my imagination by trying to distract my self from the actual taste. I will continue to occasionally buy Yorkie and a few others and enjoy them in this limited manner because that's all that's left. (Consumers have become the captive audience to the products of a few giant corporations who monopolize the marketplace with their own products by muscling out competition via favouritism with regulators 'n taxers.)

    But in the end u want real milk chocolate that has sadly disappeared from the landscape since Nestle and a few other multinational corporations have bought out small quality chocolate (and other food) makers . Even Nestle and Kraft themselves used to be quality food producers. What I would give for a plain Flake or Cadbury milk chocolate from the 70s.
    Words can go far (eg, lord Byron's disabled leg and his reputed repeated conquests of women's souls n bodies, Scheherezade's self-orchestrated salvation via her gift o' gab, ...) but cannot fool the basic senses. A young shy girl at my door for trick 'n treating a few yrs ago took pains to politely explain to me that she did not like chocolate (I was giving out fruit flavored chewy candy.) I told her I understand but did not try to explain to her that what she was getting everywhere is not chocolate. It was too complicated to x plain.
    RIP all chocolate (English, Swiss et al.)
    End of ramblin'


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