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 23, 2014

Left Twix or Right Twix?

This advert for the chocolate bar Twix explores the fictitious origin of the products distinctive two -fingered form by use of storytelling. The effectiveness of this persuasive technique was tested by Slusher & Anderson (1996) who discovered that the causal structure of an event sequence makes a more effective argument. Here, Twix captures the viewer’s imagination by portraying a reality in which the right and left sides are products of different creators. Of course, those who have eaten a Twix bar will know that the two fingers are identical. The company exploit this piece of the viewer’s knowledge and use it to create irony i.e. it is ironic that the two creators are going to such great lengths to manufacture their own unique chocolate and express their individuality, yet-as we all know- the chocolate turns out to be identical. Irony brings the company and consumer together in shared humour (Booth, 1974). Not only this, but in deciphering the irony, the viewer feels intellectual and they reciprocate this positive affect by thinking more favourably of the brand. This positive feeling and engagement in shared humour motivates the viewer to perceive the company as similar to themselves and likeable. If the target is similar to the seller then they are more likely to comply with their request i.e. ‘try both and pick a side’. In support of the similarity principle Aune and Basil (1994) showed that donations to a charity more than doubled when the requester claimed to be similar to them. Likewise, the company have produced an enjoyable experience for the viewer which may be perceived as a favour, this increases how much the viewer likes the company which in turn increases compliance (Regan, 1971) to buy and try the product.

Ingeniously, in playing along with the idea that the fingers are different the ad creators take great care in showcasing each finger individually, thus extending the total time that the viewer has to think about the qualities of the product and make favourable evaluations. The repetitive visual display of the product may increase liking of the object through the exposure effect (Zajonc, 1968). However in order to avoid inducing boredom, the ad creators slightly vary the visual and auditory presentations, known as the repetition-variation technique (Sawyer, 1981). Research shows the repetition-variation technique increases recall (Adams, 1916) and persuasiveness (Heeler, 1972). The stage-by-stage commentary of Twix manufacture emphasises the care and thought that goes into its making. Viewers are taken on an imaginative journey behind the making of the Twix which centres on its distinctive two-fingered feature, the quality that sets it apart from its competitors and a difference that will now be embedded in the viewer’s memory making it easy to remember and recognise. Despite the story being untrue the viewer appreciates the entertainment and sense of pride gleaned from depicting the ironic message and consequently may commend themselves with a Twix.
Alice Goodman


Adams, H.F., (1916). Advertising and Its Mental Laws, New York: Macmillian.

Aune, R. K. & Basil, M. D. (1994). A relational obligations explanation for the foot-in-the-mouth effect. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24, 546-556.

Booth , W. C., (1974). A Rhetoric of Iron. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Heeler, R.M., (1972). A laboratory investigation of inter-related effects of mixed media, multiple copy, and multiple insertions in advertising campaigns. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Stanford University.

Regan, D. T., (1971). Effects of a favour and liking on compliance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 77(6), 627-639.

Sawyer, A., (1981). Repetition, Cognitive Responses, and Persuasion.  Cognitive Responses in Persuasion, eds.  Petty, R. E.,. Ostrom, T. M., & Brock, T. C., Hillsdale, IL: Erlbaum, 237-262.

Slusher, M. P., & Anderson, C. A. (1996). Using causal persuasive arguments to change beliefs and teach new information. The mediating role of explanation availability and evaluation bias in the acceptance of knowledge. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88, 110-122.

Zajonc, R. B., ( 1968). The attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Monograph, 9 (2 Pt. 2)

1 comment:

  1. Great analysis, next time think about how you can present this information in the most accessible way to readers.


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