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.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Children see. Children do.

The following ad was released in Australia by NAPCAN, it leaves the viewer with a powerful message ‘make your influence positive’ by behaving as a role model as ‘children see.children do’

The previous blog stated that the persuasive technique of anticipatory regret is used to target parents. By eliciting anticipation of negative emotions such as regret, we will attempt to minimize this self-blame by avoiding behavior that would cause regret or carrying out behaviors so we won’t have regret later on. For example, Briggs & Wolfson (2002) found that anticipatory regret can be a motivator for playing the national lottery. Similarly, this ad uses anticipatory regret to provoke a change in parents’ bad habits and motivates them to be a positive role model so that they won’t feel regret but rather a sense of pride in their influence on their child’s positive behavior. This technique is very powerful as Carlsmith & Gross (1969) found that participants who experienced guilt were more likely to comply with a request.

However the previous blog failed to mention the use of music, which is an integral part in the communication of guilt and the message in this ad. Alexomanolaki et al (2006) states music plays many roles in advertising by attracting attention, enhancing the message, creating a mnemonic device and eliciting emotional affect.  In the following ad, a slow, sad soundtrack is used signaling the emotional affects that the viewer must feel. 
Moreover, the sadness of the music resonates with the audience and alerts them that the behavior they are witnessing is wrong. Thus the music not only enhances the viewer’s anticipatory regret but makes them feel sad at the thought of having this influence on their child. Additionally, the use of music promotes learning and recall of the ad. North et al (2006) found that music can prime certain aspects of listeners’ knowledge, whereby hearing this soundtrack again or similar music may lead to the viewer  being reminded of this ad thus creating a lasting impression on them.

Moreover the current ad provides very plausible and real-life examples of parents and their children. At first, the habits mimicked seem innocuous but later become more serious as we see examples of road rage, littering, animal cruelty and drunken behavior. The use of ordinary looking people who look/ seem very similar to us enhances our responsibility and sense of relation to them, prompting change. Therefore by using ordinary everyday people and by highlighting the child’s position of innocence and dependency, the ad underlines that parents/ viewers as responsibility agents. Berkowitz & Daniels (1963) found that when a person was in a position of responsibility towards a dependent they were more protective. Thus, this ad encourages the viewer to change as  their responsibility and sense of obligation towards their child is stressed upon.

Overall this ad is very effective in creating a lasting impression and promoting change in it’s viewers. By having short simple taglines such as ‘children see. children do’ and ‘make your influence positive’ the message of the ad resonates long after viewing it.


Alexomanolaki, M., Loveday, C., & Kennett, C. (2006).  Music and memory in advertising: music as a device of implicit learning and recall, Westminister research.

Berkowitz, L., & Daniels, L. R. (1963). Responsibility and dependency, Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 66, 429-438.

Briggs, P., & Woldson, S. (2002). Locked into gambling: Anticipatory regret as a motivator for playing the national lottery, Journal of Gambling Studies, 18, 1-17.

Carlsmith, A.M., & Gross, A.E.(1969) Some effects of guilt on compliance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 11, 232-239.

North, A. C., Mackenzie, L. C., Law, R. M., & Hargreaves, D. J. (2006). The effects of musical and voice ‘fit’ on responses to advertisement, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 34, 1675-1708.

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