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 22, 2016

Brains and Beauty: Using facts and attraction in advertising

  First, the use of an attractive model increases the product's appeal, and works especially well as beauty and health is relevant to the product being advertised (Trampe, Stapel, Siero & Mulder, 2010); improved beauty and health are the primary benefits from eating more citrus fruits.

  In addition, research has suggested that advertising generates social comparison (Richins, 1991). Social comparison theory (Festinger, 1954) proposes that consumers compare themselves with the people portrayed in advertisements. Gulas and McKeage (2000) found evidence to support this notion, and also showed that humans tend to continuously took for ways to improve themselves. This extended view of social comparison argues that in addition to self-evaluation, comparison serves to enhance and improve (Wood 1989). Therefore, the attractive model featured in the ad should inspire viewers to consume more citrus fruits to improve their health and appearance (Hogg, Bruce & Hough, 1999).

  Second, even if the audience looks beyond the physical attractiveness of the model, the factual and objective information used in the poster helps to demonstrate the more specific effect that consuming the product has (Mahon, 2010). In fact, it could be argued that the facts complement the attractive model as the information helps to support the idea that the product, in this case citrus fruits, promotes health and beauty.


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Wood, J. V. (1989). Theory and research concerning social comparisons of personal attributes. Psychological bulletin, 106(2), 231.

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