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.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Real women not ultra-thin models

The advert consists of six women in their underwear laughing and smiling. On the advert is the quote "As tested on real curves", with pictures of the dove products in the right hand corner of the advert.

The soap brand dove is dumping typical ultra-thin models for "real women" in their advert. Dove has played on the fact that many women feel bad about their bodies due to the comparison they make to the ultra-thin models used in typical advertising. Dove believes women would feel better about themselves when seeing women in their adverts with similar figures to their own.

Last year’s analysis focused on social proofing and similarity. I agree these two persuasive techniques have been used but many more jump out at me. The first is the fact they have used "just plain folk". Source-recipient similarity increases persuasion and influence. The similarity creates a universal bond between the women in the advert and the target. Berscheid (1966) found similarity was effective in increasing influence if the shared similarity was relevant to the issue.

Also the advert uses physically attractive women, even though the women are not super skinny models they are still beautiful women. Research shows that we tend to admire physically attractive people and want to identify with them, making attractive communicators more persuasive, for example in story telling (Reingen & Kernan, 1993) and attitude change (Chaiken, 1979).

The advert does not consist of just one woman laughing and smiling but six. Increasing the sources of communication has been shown to increase persuasion. Six women delivering a message about a product will be more persuasive that just one woman delivering the same message. Harkins and Petty (1981a, 1981b) found three different speakers delivering an argument to be more effective than one person delivering the same argument.

I think dove’s use of real women instead of ultra-thin models on their advert is extremely effective in drawing my attention to the product. I definitely feel I can relate to the women on the advert and the advert puts me in a positive and happy mood.


Just plain folk: 

Berscheid, Z. (1996). Opinion change and communicator-communicatee similarity and dissimilarity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4, 670-680.

Physically attractive admirer altercast: 

Reingen, P. H., & Kernan, J. B. (1993). Social perception and interpersonal influence: Some consequences of the physical attractiveness stereotype in a personal selling setting. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 19, 49-59.

Chaiken, S. (1979). Communicator physical attractiveness and persuasion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1387-1397.

Multiple sources: 

Harkins, S. G., & Petty, R. E. (1981a). Effects of source magnification of cognitive effort on attitudes: An information-processing view. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40, 401-413.

Harkins, S. G., & Petty, R. E. (1981b). The multiple source effect in persuasion: the effects of distraction. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 7, 627-635.

1 comment:

  1. Good George, Im not sure how much you add to the original analysis but what you have included is sufficient.


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