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.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Persuasive Politics!

Every day we are bombarded with persuasive adverts.  However, during election time the public are constantly on the receiving hand of political persuasive techniques.  One way in which many parties try to obtain support is to go out and directly talk to members of their constituency.  Here, there is a video of David Cameron knocking on doors in his constituency to talk to individuals and hand them persuasive materials about why they should vote for the conservative party.   

Research has shown that this door to door canvassing is very effective (DellaVigna & Gentzkow, 2009).  After reviewing evidence, they concluded that when attempting to persuade voters, the most effective way was door to door canvassing.  Knocking on doors and speaking to voters can increase turnout from 44.8% - 47.2%.  This is most effective for politicians and persuading voters compared to consumer persuasion as when comparing this to telemarketing phone calls, there was significantly less persuasion occurring. 

This may occur for a number of reasons but it is likely to be because the politician is able to build up a rapport with the individual and come across in a more friendly way.  A similar way to gain compliance is through ingratiation.  This is where when you gain approval; you are more able to get someone to comply with you. 
Furthermore, individuals may be more likely to comply and go along with his request to vote conservative due to social influence.  Milgram and many other experiments have demonstrated that we are more likely to comply with an authority figure, in this situation David Cameron is the authority figure.  Individuals may be more likely to comply with him because he is in authority.  Additionally, they may be more likely to comply because he is in a position of knowledge.  Many members of the public may agree with him because ‘he knows how to govern the country’ and he will know things that others do not on the best way to do this. 
This is linked to informative social influence.  The individual may not be aware of all the important information but has a need to be accurate.  The belief that David Cameron would be the right person could override an individual’s personal opinion.   

Politicians use many other techniques to persuade individuals and will often try to blame other political parties for problems in the country.  This is through the competition template by Goldenberg, Mazursky, & Solomon (1999).  An advert can be persuasive by highlighting the competition and identifying areas where it is weaker and not as good.  In the advert below, labour created an interesting advert showing the two sides of David Cameron and his view on NHS spending.  This shows how Cameron is two faced and unreliable in patient cancer care.  Also implicating that he is not forceful and not the correct person for the job.  In doing this, it demonstrates that the labour party would be the correct party and individuals should vote for them because they would not be doing this. 

DellaVigna, S., & Gentzkow, M. (2009). Persuasion: Empirical Evidence: National Bureau of

            Economic Research.

Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., & Solomon, S. (1999). The fundamental templates of quality
            ads. Marketing Science, 18(3), 333-351.

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