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, February 6, 2014

Guide to being a friendly ghost


The adverts above are part of a large advertising campaign by France ADOT which aims to increase awareness of, and sign-up for, organ donation. France ADOT are an organisation whose mission is to promote organ, tissue and bone marrow donation and here they are using a distinctive set of images to draw attention to this important cause.

The clever use of anonymous donors in these adverts allows the viewer to imagine themselves in the donor’s position. It has been found that imagining yourself doing a suggested action increases the likelihood that you will do the action in reality. This is supported by research where door-to-door salespeople were 2.5 times more likely to sell cable TV subscriptions if they asked the potential customer to imagine themselves enjoying the benefits of cable TV than if they just gave them information about the service (Gregory, Cialdini & Carpenter, 1982). By imagining yourself adopting a new, recommended behaviour it lessens the distance between your current behaviour and the target behaviour, making you more likely to give it a go.

A key tactic used in these adverts is social proof, which activates the rule that if everyone else is doing it then it must be the most appropriate behaviour (Deutsch & Gerard, 1955). The advert’s tagline, “thousands of people owe their lives to organ donors”, states that thousands of people are already donating their organs, implying that therefore you should do the same to fit in to society. In addition, multiple adverts have been shot similarly portraying different donors and recipients which emphasises the universality of the need and increases the probability that everyone will identify with one, or both, of the parties represented, activating the similarity heuristic.

This advert is very emotional as the donation recipient is unlikely to be able to thank the donor by hugging them as donation mainly occurs after the donor has died themselves. The transparent, ghostly nature of the donor makes this particularly salient and accentuates that through their death they have helped another person stay alive. Aristotle stated that invoking a predicted emotional reaction gives power to the message-giver to be able to influence them towards a certain action (Pratkanis, 2007). The emotional tactic is used alongside the activation of imagined behaviour and social proof to create an advert with a strong message that is both affective and effective.
Lydia Dyckhoff

Deutsch, M., & Gerard, H. B. (1955). A study of normative and informational social influences upon individual judgment. The journal of abnormal and social psychology, 51(3), 629-636.

Gregory, W. L., Cialdini, R. B., & Carpenter, K. M. (1982). Self-relevant scenarios as mediators of likelihood estimates and compliance: Does imagining make it so?. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43(1), 89-99.

Pratkanis, A. R. (2007).The science of social influence: Advances and future progress. New York: Psychology Press.

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