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.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Losing Your Temper In Front Of Your Child ? Think Twice.

This is a television advert which was created in Australia.  This particular advert was created by NAPCAN known as National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect . NAPCAN created this advert to raise awareness about children exposure to family violence, child abuse and other problems.  . Majority of behaviours presented in this advert can be regarded as negative i.e. smoking , domestic violence.  NAPCAN aims to change behaviours and attitudes of parents as well as other adults to make the world a better place for children. In order to achieve this goal they used different persuasive techniques.

The first persuasive technique  used was the inverted consequence template (Goldenberg, Mazursky, & Solomon, 1999). The advert refers to implications of what happens when adults don’t change their behaviours and fail to follow the advice given by the advert. You would have noticed that every adult in this advert was followed by a child and these children mimicked the behaviour of the adults. For example, in one of the scenes a child expressed a racist comment towards the Asian man which was a consequence of observing the adult behaviour. The implied consequence in this scene was that behaviour, attitude such as  racism displayed by an adult can be copied by the child.   

The advert aims to change attitudes of adults by showing the viewer their own behaviour, which is known as the self-perception theory (Bem, 1965). People are most likely to change their attitudes when they see inconsistencies or contradicting behaviours that goes against their standards.  We might not necessarily see ourselves in this video however the behaviour displayed by these actors are very common and sadly occur in daily life.

NAPCAN used emotional tactics to influence people. Pratkanis (2007) stated that the emotional arousal of guilt is so powerful that the person might even change their attitudes or behaviours to repair the self-image.
Festinger (1957) argued that this change of attitude occurs when you feel discomfort.  This is known as the cognitive dissonance theory in which people feel uncomfortable when they behave in a way that contradicts to their attitudes. The uncomfortable feelings is the result of emotional arousal which was guilt.  For example Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) found that participants who received less money to perform a boring task ,were more likely to describe the task as fun to other people.
They were more likely to regard the task as positive because the actual behaviour contradicted with their belief. This created feelings of discomfort which was resolved through the lying and the actual change of the attitude. In accordance to this advert it can be argued the solution to solve this discomfort is actually to take on the message and change the attitude“ make your influence positive “ . 


Bem, D. J. (1967). Self-perception: An alternative interpretation of cognitive dissonance phenomena. Psychological review, 74 (3), 183.

Festinger, L. (1962). A theory of cognitive dissonance . Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Festinger, L., & Carlsmith, J. M. (1959). Cognitive consequences of forced compliance. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 58 (2), 203.

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

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

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