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

Put the clock back

Who doesn’t want to have baby-like skin?  Garnier has wisely manipulated persuasion methods of ‘social proof’ and ‘similarity’ and ‘association’ in promoting its Ultralift anti-wrinkle cream.

In the beginning of the advert, the weapon of influence ‘social proof’ has been used.  It is stated that ‘over 25000 women’ in the U.K. and Ireland have tried the anti-wrinkle cream and ‘over 80% has visible results’.  The numbers and figures suggest that many people have tried and liked their products.  Lun et al. (2007) pointed out that people seek for others’ opinions and behaviour to determine what is the correct behaviour, and we tend to follow their behaviour in order to act correctly.  This may be due to the uncertainty and unfamiliarity with a situation that we are more likely to act in accordance with others.  A classic social learning theory study conducted by Bandura, Ross & Ross (1961) has clearly demonstrated the use of social proof to affect others’ behaviour, in which children who are exposed to a model performing aggressive behaviour towards the bobo doll are more likely to perform aggressively towards the bobo doll later.  Hence, when people assume Garnier’s anti-wrinkle cream has been used by a large number of women, they are more likely to comply and purchase the product.

Apart from ‘social proof’,’ similarity’ is also used as a weapon of influence.  People tend to like, compare and act in accordance with those who are similar to themselves (Pratkanis, 2007).  In the advert, Garnier has interviewed three ordinary women from Britain and Ireland who are in their 30s, 40s and 50s respectively.  The target audience who are in either, 30s, 40s, and 50s will match themselves with the interviewees, indicating the similar skin problems they are having.  Therefore, when the interviewees in the advert said the product works well on them, the audience having similar problems will tend to believe that the product will also work well on their own selves, and as a consequence, they will be tempted to purchase Garnier’s product.   

Another crucial persuasive weapon is ‘association’, in which by conditioning, positive feelings towards celebrities or people we like will be associated with the things they use.  Higher advertisement creditability and purchase intention are found in advert with celebrities (Friedman et al., 1977).  Davina McCall is the presenter of the present advert, and she is a well-known television presenter who has recently released a series of body workout DVDs.  McCall’s healthy and positive image will be automatically connected to products that she endorsed, and the positive feeling towards McCall will be connected to Garnier’s anti-wrinkle cream.  McCall and Belmont (1996) has found that people tend to leave greater cash tip when the MasterCard sign was in printed on the bill, suggesting that the tendency of paying more with credit cards will also work on cash bill because of the association of the sign.  In other words, if Davina McCall seems to be nice, the cream she uses is also nice.

I understand how stressful it is when we find our skin not as good as it used to be. Yet, I urge you to think twice before purchasing any beauty products!  Those products are not necessary to improve your skin conditions but the weapons of influence applied by beauty brands must harm your wallets.

Bandura, A., Ross, D. & Ross, S.A. (1961).Transmission of aggression through imitation of aggressive models. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 63, 575-82.

Cialdini, R. B. (2007). Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. New York: HarperCollins.
Friedman, H., Termini, S., & Washington, R. (1977). The Effectiveness of Advertisements Utilizing Four Types of Endorsers. Journal of Advertising, 6, 2224.

Lun. J., Sinclair, S., Whitchurch, E. R., & Glenn, C. (2007). (Why) do i think what you think? Epistemic social turning and implicit prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 957-972.

McCall, M., & Belmont, H. J. (1996). Credit card insignia and restaurant tipping: Evidence for an associative link. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81, 609-613.

Pratkanis, A. R. (Ed.). (2007). Social influence analysis: An index of tactics. The Science of Social Influence: Advances and future progress. New York: Psychology Press.

Wing Shan Jennifer Chan

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