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.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Mortgage Lender

This radio advert uses the storytelling technique to persuade the listener. It has been found that presenting information in story format makes a message more persuasive as it gives evidence a causal structure, making it seem credible (Hastie & Pennington, 2000). However this attempt at persuasion is likely to have been ruined by the rapid disclaimers at the end of the advert. 

Research conducted by Herbst, Finkel, Allan and Fitzsimons (2012) suggests that individuals see disclaimers that are spoken rapidly as a deceitful strategy that advertisers use to manipulate consumers into buying/using their services. Although in some contexts fast speech may be seen as indicating intelligence, and thus be persuasive, it seems that in the context of disclaimers in advertisements listeners are likely to think that the advertisers are trying to deceive them by preventing close attention to the content of the message by presenting it so quickly. Herbst et al (2012) played participants an advertisement for ‘Apollo’, a made-up wireless device company. One third of participants read that the brand was rated high on trustworthiness, another read it was low on trustworthiness and the remaining third received no information about the brand’s trustworthiness. The participants heard the same advertisement with either a fast disclaimer at the end or a disclaimer at the same pace as the rest of the advertisement.  The participants who heard fast disclaimers indicated significantly lower purchase intention (on a 7 point rating scale) when they had no information about trustworthiness or were told the brand was untrustworthy. However the participants who were told the brand was trustworthy were not affected by disclaimer speed. The same effect was found when a real established trusted brand was compared with an unknown brand. Therefore unless a brand is widely known to be reputable (which I don’t think is the case with this advertisement) the use of rapid disclaimers will reduce the effectiveness of persuasion by evoking feelings of distrust towards the advertiser. In their second experiment Herbst et al (2012) found that fast disclaimers led to lower purchase intention even when the content of the disclaimer was positive. This suggests that disclaimer speed acts as a heuristic cue used by individuals to determine if the claims made can be trusted.

Many TV advertisements now avoid this issue by having disclaimers (which are required for the advertisement to adhere to industry regulations) printed at the bottom of the screen rather than being read aloud at the end of the advertisement. 

Hastie, R., & Pennington, N. (2000). Explanation-based decision making. In T. Connolly, H. R. Arkes, & K. R. Hammond (Eds.), Judgment and decision making (2nd ed., pp. 212-225). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Herbst, K.C., Finkel, E. J., Allan, D., & Fitzsimons, G. M. (2012). On the dangers of pulling a fast one: Advertisement disclaimer speed, brand trust, and purchase intention. Journal of Consumer Research, 38, 909-919.

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