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, March 10, 2014

An Icy Negotiation

Frozen is the latest hit Disney Animation. Whilst you probably wouldn’t associate Disney films with the art of negotiation (they are usually aimed at children after all) this clip demonstrates that you are never too young to learn how to get people to say yes.

In the scene pictured above, Ana needs to go to the North Mountain to find her sister (whose magical powers caused the whole of Arandale to fall into a deep winter in the middle of summer). The horse she was riding was spooked, reared up, throwing her off and galloped away. She couldn’t continue by herself, as the snow was too deep. Luckily she stumbles across a shack which sells a few convenience products for mountain climbing. Not long after she arrives, another customer, Kristoff arrives, but is soon thrown out after he’s rude to the shop manager. As an ice seller, Kristoff had his own reindeer and a sled, which Ana realizes may be the only way she can get up to the mountain and save her Kingdom. But how do you persuade someone you’ve never met before to take you somewhere in the most dangerous conditions?

Through buying the goods that Kristoff intended to purchase from the store, Ana introduces the principle of reciprocity – after someone gives us something, we feel like we own them something in return (e.g. Regan, 1971). She also gives him the items at different stages of the negotiation, ‘disaggregating’ his gains, which should lead him to view her in a more positive way than if she had just given it all to him at once. In fact, at one point he mentions ‘you forgot the carrots’, which she is then able to produce from her bag to spur negotiations forwards.

As an ice seller, Kristoff was not making much money during the wintery conditions, therefore Ana offers him a solution – she can stop the winter, putting him back in business. She is aware of his Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) - which is to go out of business. It is therefore in Kristoff’s best interests to comply with Ana’s request. As a consequence, she is able to narrow the Zone of Possible Agreement as she has power over what he values. Through justifying why she needs his help and why it cannot wait until morning, Ana is able to effectively create the impression of a ‘zero sum fallacy’.  

These weapons of influence inevitably end up being successful, leading to the Happily Ever After that we all know and love Disney films for.

Jessica Brett – Blog 5


Regan, D. T. (1971). Effects of a favour on liking and compliance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 7, 627-639.

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