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, January 24, 2014

We all Long to be Super Human

Much of my Christmas was spent watching two little rascals submerge their imagination into the computerised, supersonic world of Marvel. We nearly had complete meltdown in the Atkinson household when the boys realised how difficult it was to obtain Silver Surfer Status!! 
This got me thinking, we all dream about having some sort of super human power. Some of us dream of flying and some of us wish for the ability to become invisible for reasons that shouldn’t be discussed on a Warwick University web site!

This is Sliver Surfer BTW 

And this is what happens when you cannot get enough points on a computer game (that will remain unnamed) to attain his magic surf board!! 

This is what the advertiser of the channel 4 Paralympic games understood so well. No, not the mood swings of 3 year old children but the desire we all have to be super human. 
The advertisers utilised extreme analogy (Goldenberg, Mazursky, & Solomon, 1999) to compare these athletes to modern day super heroes.  The beliefs we hold about super heroes being extraordinary and super strong transfers to the Paralympic athletes and like magic a positive association is made (Staats & Staats, 1958)!! 

This further changes the meaning of the category these people have been placed in (Rothbart, Davis-Stitt & Hill, 1997).  No longer are these individuals placed in the disabled category but very abled and unique heroes that work hard to achieve a desired goal. And not just any goal, but a goal for our country! This summons a surge of patriotic emotion that urges us to support their mission (Han, 1988)

The advert tells the story of these individuals pushing themselves physically through adversity to become athletes. This story telling technique appeals to the viewers self-referencing processes helping them to easily encode the information (Harris, 2008).

Us Brits relished in the success of the 2012 Olympics. This massive cultural fad that we all connected to gave us good memories of fun times and triumph. This is alliterated by the iconic image of the Olympic stadium, which the advertiser have repeatedly presented throughout this advert to raise our excitement of it all happening again (Smith & Engel, 1968).

Further to this the music that accompanies the advert grabs our attention and fits the motivational concept being sold. This technique has been proven to influence the buying habits of individuals (Areni & Kim, 1993).

So did it work?? Well YES!! The channel 4 broadcasters stated record audience figures. Further to this 81% of British adults thought the Paralympics had a positive impact on the way people with impairment were viewed by the public.
Not only did this advert entice the audience to watch a program they wouldn’t usually consider. But through the use of association, story telling and some good music they helped the athletes get the recognition they deserved. Also prompting individuals to question their beliefs and attitudes towards people with impairments.  

Areni, C. S., & Kim, D. (1993). The influence of background music on shopping behavior: classical versus top-forty music in a wine store. Advances in Consumer Research, 20, 336-340.

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

Han, C. M. (1988). The role of consumer patriotism in the choice of domestic versus foreign products. Journal of Advertising Research, 28, 25-32.

Harris, M. A. B. (2008). Getting carried away: Understanding memory and consumer processing of perceived storytelling in advertisements. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 68, 3197-3197.

Smith, G. & Engel, R. (1968). Influence of a Female Model on Perceived Characteristics of an Automobile, Proceedings of the 76th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, 3, 681-682.

Staats, A.W., & Staats, C.K. (1958). Attitudes established by classical conditioning. Journal of Abnormal Psychology , 57, 37-40

Rothbart, M., Davis-Stitt, C., & Hill, J. (1997). Effects of arbitrarily placed category boundries on similarity judgments. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 33, 122-145 

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