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.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Drink More Water!

This advert aims to persuade the audience to increase their water intake by highlighting the benefits of drinking water and the consequences of not drinking enough water. This advert employs a number of techniques aimed at effectively influencing the audience and persuading them to internalize the message.

In advertising, an important factor in the effectiveness of communication is the attitude of the audience towards the communicator (Hovland & Weiss, 1951). Extant research provides qualified support for the belief that highly credible sources enhance persuasion, (Harmon & Coney, 1982). Changes in opinion are significantly related to the trustworthiness of the source used in the communication, with a higher rate of agreement and persuasion when statements are attributed to higher prestige sources or perceived to be of higher credibility, (Bickman, 1974);(Hovland & Weiss 1951).

This advert employs the image of a doctor and a quote from the NHS in an attempt to make the advert more credible, as both the NHS and a Doctor, are well-respected, reliable and considered to be trustworthy and credible sources.

Throughout history the uniform has been a symbol of authority and a way to identify those who possess authority, (Bickman, 1974). Experiments conducted by Milgram, (1963) demonstrated that participants complied with even the cruelest demands of the experimenter, simply because he wore a uniform (a white lab coat) and was perceived to be a figure of authority.

This advert employs a similar approach- the imagine of a doctor in uniform aims to increase compliance and influence for the message among the audience, as a Doctor is the principle figure of authority with all matters concerning health.

Lastly, the advert includes an image of an attractive woman who has benefited from increasing her water consumption. Chaiken (1979) demonstrates that attractive communicators induce significantly greater persuasion on a verbal and behavioral measure of agreement than un-attractive communicators. 

This advert attempts to play on the superior persuasive power of attractive individuals over un-attractive individuals by employing the image of an attractive woman (rather than that of an average or un-attractive woman), seemingly reeking the benefits of increased water consumption. 

Advert references 

10 Life-Changing Reasons to Drink More Water (n.d.) Retrieved from

Six to eight glasses of water 'still best' (n.d.) Retrieved from


Bickman, L. (1974). The social power of a uniform1. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 4(1), 47-61.

Chaiken, S. (1979). Communicator physical attractiveness and persuasion.Journal of Personality and social Psychology, 37(8), 1387.

Harmon, R. R., & Coney, K. A. (1982). The persuasive effects of source credibility in buy and lease situations. Journal of Marketing Research, 255-260.

Hovland, C. I., & Weiss, W. (1951). The influence of source credibility on communication effectiveness. Public opinion quarterly, 15(4), 635-650.

Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. The Journal of abnormal and social psychology67, 371.

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