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

Obesity is suicide

This advertisement was created by Brandon Knowlden for Northern Bariatric Surgery Institutes in Pennsylvania. The poster says “Obesity is suicide. But it doesn't have to end this way. Find out how bariatric surgery can help. The Northern Bariatric Surgery Institute.”. The advertisement employed an emotional approach which caused a fearful emotion about obesity in consumers by directly linking obesity and death.

Yan, Dillard and Shen (2012) found that fearful individuals were more likely to be persuaded by negative messages. In the study, participants were given Life Event Inventory which asked participants to remember and write one of very happy, very angry or very fearful life event to induce specific emotion (participants were randomly assigned one of the conditions). Then, participants were given one of two booklets containing information about Hepatitis C in a negative or positive way. Both positive and negative booklets contained basic information about Hepatitis C, but the positive information booklet contained a section called “benefit of taking a detection test for Hepatitis C”, and the section was titled “the cost of not taking a detection test” in the negative information booklet.  For the positive booklet, the section consisted of positive information about taking the detection test such as the number of people saved their life by taking the test, the positive outcomes of early detection and the fact many people take the test. For the negative booklet, the section contained negative information including the risk of transmission of Hepatitis C on other organs and the number of people who died because of the disease.  After participants read the booklet, they were given questionnaires which asked their attitude and intention to take the Hepatitis C detection test. The result showed that fearful participants were more favorable for the negative message, and they were more willing to take the detection test.

The advertisement created fear of obesity by mentioning the link between obesity and death. This fear might encourage people, especially fearful individuals, to lose weight, thus, it might attract more customers to Northern Bariatric Surgery Institute.

Yan, C., Dillard, J. P., & Shen, F. (2012). Emotion, Motivation, and the Persuasive Effects of Message Framing. Journal of Communication.

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