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.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Would Davina Deceive You?

As the previous student pointed out, the main persuasive tactic used here is multiple sources. Harkins and Petty (1981) found that a message was more effectively received when multiple sources were used to deliver the message, instead of just one. This advert uses 3 ‘real’ women, (4, if you count Davina) to convince you that the product works. They’re all telling you how great it is, exemplifying the multiple sources method.

The clever thing about it though, is that another tactic is employed at the same time. By having ‘real’ women tell you their experiences, the Similarity Altercast (Pratkanis, 2007) is used to help convince you to buy the product. This was mentioned in the first blog about this advert, and research has shown that we like people who appear similar to us (Burger et al., 2004) and are more likely to look to these individuals when making decisions (Festinger, 1954). If we feel that these women are just like us, and it’s worked for them, why shouldn’t it work for us? We’d at least give it a shot…

However, there are a few more persuasive tactics that jump out to me that weren’t mentioned last year. A blatantly obvious one is the use of Davina McCall, a very famous television presenter. Many adverts nowadays use celebrities as a way of selling their products, and there is a good reason for this. Pratkanis (2007) describes the High Status-Admirer Altercast, where celebrities are seen to be at the top of the social hierarchy and can therefore influence us because we admire and want to be like them. We think if we buy the product, we can achieve this desire. Celebrities receive a lot of attention and can greatly influence consumers’ attitudes towards buying a product (Pughazhendi, Thirunavukkarasu & Susendiran 2011). This was shown to be the case by Kahle and Homer (1985) who found that reported purchase intentions of a disposable razor increased after a celebrity endorsement.

Pratkanis (2007) also talks of the Physically Attractive Altercast, which is present in this advert as well. Davina herself is known to be an attractive woman, and the other ladies aren’t bad either. Research has shown that attractive individuals are more effective in selling (Reingen & Kernan, 1993) and persuading others (Chaiken, 1979).

In addition, social proof is used very clearly. By getting multiple women to testify the amazing benefits of the product, as well as the use of statistics such as “over 25,000” have tested it and “80% saw visible results” it makes us assume that we should be using it too, as so many people say it works. Social proof works in advertising because it takes advantage of the fact that we tend to automatically act in accordance with others. We determine what is right by what other people think is right (Lun et al., 2007) and then go along with the majority.

So can over 25,000 women, including the lovely ladies in the advert be lying to you? Garnier’s UltraLift is evidently your best chance to fight those wrinkles!


Burger, J. M., Messian, N., Patel, S., Prado, A., & Anderson, C. (2004). What a coincidence! The effects of incidental similarity on compliance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 35-43.

Chaiken, S. (1979). Communicator physical attractiveness and persuasion. Journal of personality and social psychology37(8),1387-1397.

Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human Relations, 7, 117-140.

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

Kahle, L. R., & Homer, P. M. (1985). Physical attractiveness of the celebrity endorser: A social adaptation perspective. Journal of Consumer Research, 11, 954-961.

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

Pratkanis, A. (Ed.) (2007). The Science of Social Influence: Advances and Future Progress. Psychology Press.

Pughazhendi, A., Thirunavukkarasu, R., & Susendiran, S. (2011). A Study on Celebrity Based Advertisements on the Purchase Attitude of Consumers towards Durable Products in Coimbatore city, Tamil Nadu, India. Far East Journal of Marketing and Management, 1, 16-27.

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, 2, 25-38.

Zara Heal (Blog 2)

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