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.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Save yourself and your loved ones

The main persuasion technique used in this poster is association, where an idea is associated to a negative concept in order to transfer the meaning from the second concept to the first idea. (Pratkanis, 2007). In this poster there is a negative association between obesity and its health implications such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure which subsequently may lead to a heart attack or stroke. Thus, these negative consequences of being obese may cause those looking at this poster to change their attitude and behaviour towards obesity and begin to choose a healthy diet in order to be free from all these health risks. 

Emotional tactics are also used in order to convey the message of the obesity crisis. Fear and guilt is created by depicting the health problems using graphics and also by bringing in “loved ones” to the concept. The idea that a “loved one” may suffer these health problems or they may suffer because of a health risk to oneself, may induce fear and guilt in a person. Fear creates an avoidance tendency and creates a need or desire to shun the possible dangers. Whereas guilt creates a desire to make restoration and to repair one’s self-image (Pratkanis, 2007).

This poster would communicate to people through central route processing more than via a peripheral route as it has a few statistical figures, which may require time and effort to read. Thus it is more likely to be processed by those who are highly motivated and research has shown that central processing is more likely to occur when individuals are highly motivated and the topic at hand is relevant to the audience on a personal level (Petty & Cacioppo, 1984). According to The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) attitudes changed using a central route is more persistent over time, more predictive of subsequent behaviour change and is also more resistant to counterattitudanal messages (Massaro, Petty & Cacioppo, 1988). Thus using a central route could be considered more effective than a peripheral route to persuade individuals to make dietary changes to lead a healthy life. In fact, nutrition experts are advised to use a central processing route if they wish to achieve a sustained attitude and behaviour change (Wilson, 2007). 


Massaro, D., Petty, R., & Cacioppo, J. (1988). Communication and Persuasion: Central and Peripheral Routes to Attitude Change. The American Journal Of Psychology, 101(1), 155.

Petty, R., & Cacioppo, J. (1984). The effects of involvement on responses to argument quantity and quality: Central and peripheral routes to persuasion. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 46(1), 69-81.

Pratkanis, A. (2007). The science of social influence. New York: Psychology Press.

Wilson, B. (2007). Designing Media Messages About Health and Nutrition: What Strategies Are Most Effective?. Journal Of Nutrition Education And Behavior, 39(2), S13-S19. 

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