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.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Cows have feelings too!

Social proofing tells us that when many people around us are seen to follow an idea or behaviour, we see it as more favourable, not just because it is a good idea but because other’s also think it is a good idea. This was shown by Goldstein, Cialdini & Griskevicus (2008), they promoted ‘green’ behaviour by telling individuals at hotels that the guests before them recycled their towels.
This encouraged more people to also recycle towels - more so than just telling them of the environmental benefits of recycling towels. Making a behaviour appear to be a social norm makes it more desirable– this is a technique used in this graphic to encourage individuals to eat less meat. By putting an actual number – 1,343 – people are made aware of how common this behaviour is. If they see this as a behaviour typical of the ‘norm’, they are more likely to follow it. Not eating meat can be seen as an appropriate or desirable behaviour.

The poster uses a statistic specific to Warwick University – this gives the audience someone to relate to. As the audience is likely to also be at Warwick University, this creates a sense of similarity, which is also known to unite groups making the desired behaviour more likely to occur (Sherif et al. 1954). Knowing people similar to you have decided to stop eating meat is more likely to nudge your behaviour into also not eating meat anymore.

Perhaps a more subtle technique used in this graphic appears in the phrase “Eating meat harms them and you” – the function of this was to change behaviour through perspective taking. Eating meat is not just bad for the individual’s health, but also has an impact on animal populations and living conditions. By making this idea salient, the phrase aims to bring the animal’s rights to mind and change the audiences view on how eating meat negatively impacts more than just them, encouraging the desired behaviour change.
Craig, W. J., Mangels, A. R. (2009). Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109, 1266-1282.
Goldstein, N. J., Cialdini, R. B., & Griskevicus, V. (2008). A room with a viewpoint: Using social norms to motivate environmental conservation in hotels. Journal of Consumer Research, 35, 472-482.
Harvey, O. J., White, B. J., Hood, W. R., & Sherif, C. W. (1961). Intergroup conflict and cooperation: The Robbers Cave experiment (Vol. 10, pp. 150-198). Norman, OK: University Book Exchange.

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