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.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"It's on us"

This advert equates a favour that the voiceover girl’s friend Lizzie did for her (buying her dinner) with the Lloyds Bank “It’s on us” scheme buying the girl her jeans. These are both unsolicited favours. It has been found that favours create a feeling of obligation in humans, regardless of whether it was asked for or not, (Goulder, 1960) and reciprocity has even been suggested as the defining feature of being human. (Leakey & Lewin, 1978). This advert may indirectly induce a feeling of indebtedness to the bank or the desire to be treated as a friend by a bank, which we all know from public perception are evil money-grabbers.

Or are they?

The girl in the advert is designed to be just like any normal young woman with her inability to pronounce her Italian dinner’s name, photos of her with her friend and her use of informal language. On YouTube many people have asked who has provided the voiceover as it sounds familiar. This is all done to exploit instinctive use of social proof: we use the behaviour of others to determine what proper behaviour is for ourselves (Dauten, 2004). But it’s cleverer than that, as it is known that the more similar we perceive someone to be to us, the more likely we are to follow their behavioural cues e.g. using Lloyds Bank. Evans (1963) found an example of this when customers were more likely to buy insurance if the salesperson was similar to them in age, religion, politics and smoking habits.

As viewers of this advert we get to know more about the voiceover girl than is pertinent to the sale of a credit/debit card. This creates a facade of friendliness and make us trust in her recommendation. This aim is supported by research by Frenzen and Davis (1990) who suggested that a social bond is twice as likely to make us buy a product as personal preference for the product. This is even overtly mentioned at the end of the advert where the girl says “I’m sure that’s something Lizzie’s gonna love”, implying that because she loves it her friend, who we have seen to be similar to her, will too.

Young women in particular, similar to the voiceover girl and her friend Lizzie, may question whether Lloyds Bank can still be corrupt like all other banks if they are offering “small acts of kindness anyone can appreciate”.

Dauten, D. (2004). How to Be a Good Waiter, and Other Innovative Ideas. Arizona Republic, July, 22, D3.

Evans, F. B. (1963). Selling as a dyadic relationship–a new approach. American Behavioral Scientist6(9), 76-79.

Frenzen, J. K., & Davis, H. L. (1990). Purchasing behavior in embedded markets. Journal of Consumer Research, 1-12.

Gouldner, A. W. (1960). The norm of reciprocity: A preliminary statement. American sociological review, 161-178.

Leakey, R. E., & Lewin, R. (1978). People of the lake: Mankind and its beginnings. Anchor Press.

Lydia Dyckhoff

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