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

This Year's Must-Have Gift

"What would you like for Christmas?" I want some fishes, a guitar, some talking popcorn... ...However, Alexis Wallace, a 5 years old patient with sickle cell anaemia wants something different from other kids, which is blood.

The use of a common question and various backgrounds like the stairs, living room and bedrooms with Christmas decorations portray a familiar scene that we usually encounter during Christmas. It has been found that people are more willing to comply with those who are similar to us (Cialdini, 2001). This advert comprises of children from different races with similar ages convey the message that they are just normal kids. It depicts a situation that everyone has been possibly experienced before. Therefore, we are more likely to fall into the joyful Christmassy environment in the advert and positive feelings will be generated.

People usually behave in accordance with norms (Pratkanis, 2007). Buying children a gift is a traditional practice at this big festival. We are less likely to reject the request of the little girl because it is assumed that every child deserves a Christmas gift. On the other hand, the perceptual contrast is also used here. Cialdini (2001) suggests that we see a thing more different when it is presented after a different item. The situation of Alexis in this advert looks a lot worse when it is presented strict following those healthy kids. Besides, the similar in age between Alexis and those kids shows a bigger contrast which can urge audience to donate blood. The fact that blood is much more urgent in need strengthens the term "must-have" and the contrast of the need between those children and Alexis.

'The doctor says I need some blood to make me feel better.' Alexis answered naively. It raises our awareness and amplifies our feeling of sympathy for her. With the use of familiar scene, this advert firstly induces the happiness to audience. Subsequently, the request of Alexis brings us a sad feeling. Emotional seesaw technique is illustrated in this advert. The sudden removal of experienced emotion lead audience to a state of confusion that their cognitive functioning is disturbed and more likely to comply with a request (Dolinski, 2001). Under the state of confusion introduced by emotional seesaw technique, 'Make an appointment' button immediately followed by the request of Alexis makes people more likely to click on it.


Cialdini, R. B. (2001). Influence: Science and practice. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Cialdini, R. B. (2001). Harnessing the science of persuasion. Harvard Business Review, 79(9), 72-81.

Dolinski, D. (2001). Emotional seesaw, compliance, and mindlessness. European psychologist, 6(3), 194-203.

Pratkanis, A. R. (2007). Social influence analysis: An index of tactics. The science of social influence: Advances and future progress, 17-82.

Hau Wong (Blog 1)

1 comment:

  1. Good choice and analysis. Think il make an appointment myself.


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