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

Smart Cars to save the Environment.

The above is an advertisement encouraging us to use smart cars in an attempt to reduce pollution, as they are more environmentally friendly. While this advertisement does use persuasive techniques such as selective presentation of information and the power of imagination, there are other techniques at work here.

One obvious technique we observe is the use of contrast in the poster. While one section sets a scene of industries with the dried fields and air pollution, the other shows lush fields and clean air. Perceptual contrast can be seen in the study where participants are asked to sit in front of three pails of water: hot, cold and lukewarm. After placing their hands in the hot and cold pails, they are then asked to simultaneously place both hands in the room temperature pail. Although both hands are in the same water temperature, they get different sensations in each hand as a result of the fact that they were placed in different temperature waters initially (Cialdini, 2009). The contrast used in this advert exaggerates the perceived effects of pollution to the landscape in the industrial setting.

The consequences template (Goldenberg, Mazursky et. al, 1999) has also been used in this advertisement. It makes use of the inverted consequences template, which shows us what would happen to the environment if we did not switch to smart cars. They show us the measures that need to be taken to prevent our air and environment from being polluted.      

Emotional tactics are also at play in this advertisement (Pratkanis, 2007). There is a certain element of fear in the advert with respect to the consequences depicted from not switching to smart cars. Fear is a strong motivator to get people to do what you want them to. In an attempt to escape such dire consequences, people will switch to smart cars to stop the pollution.

This advertisement also elicits emotions of guilt and personal responsibility. If we do not use a smart car, our actions will destroy and pollute the environment. In a sense, the feeling of guilt gives rise to obligation. The action of switching to smart cars is relatively easy in a bid to save the environment. This feeling of obligation is what underlies the principle of reciprocity. It is a far stretch, but this advertisement could represent an exchange between man and nature. Over the years we have taken so much from nature in terms of resources that it is now our turn to do something in an attempt to save the environment from the destruction we ourselves have caused.

In conclusion, with the help of all these persuasive techniques, the advertisement makes a strong plea for us to switch to smart cars.

- Maia Jasubhoy.


Cialdini, R. B. (2009). Influence: Science and practice. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D. et al. (1999). The fundamental templates of quality ads. Marketing Science, 333-351.

Pratkanis (2007). The science of social influence: Advances and future progress. Psychology Press. 

1 comment:

  1. Very good, better references would have made it stronger.


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