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

Go vegetarian!

The above ad encourages viewers to go vegetarian for health, environmental and ethical reasons. This is done in multiple ways: firstly, celebrity endorsement is used. Research has shown that celebrity presence in an advert catches consumers attention (Erdogan, 1999) and improves recall rates, making the advert more memorable (Gabor, Thorton & Wienner, 1987). Featuring attractive celebrities also makes use of upward social comparison (Festinger, 1954), which involves individuals comparing themselves to the more successful, attractive people they see in the media, and therefore making them more likely to change their behaviour in order to mirror these successful people. Featuring successful actress and vegetarian Natalie Portman should increase consideration of being vegetarian.

Additionally, using facts and figures makes the advert seem more credible. Petty and Cacioppo (1986a) found that a logical argument with reliable supporting data is effective at persuading individuals via the central route of processing. The use of percentages and research makes the above advert more credible and trustworthy. The fact that the statistics are regarding serious medical issues also means the emotion fear is evoked, which then encourages people to change their behaviour in order to avoid the scary consequence, which in this case is cancer or heart disease (Pratkanis, 2007).

Finally, the use of animal graphics and the reference to the cruelty of eating meat is used. It has been found that evoking guilt in people makes them want to change their own behaviour (Pratkanis, 2007) and including images of animals routinely farmed for meat helps close the disconnect between meat and living creatures, thus eliciting guilt. This tactic, teamed with celebrity endorsement and the use of scientific data, could persuade an individual to eat less meat.

Erdogan, B. Zafer (1999), “Celebrity Endorsement: A Literature Review,” Journal of Marketing Management, 15 (4), 291–314.

Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human Relations, 7, 117-140.

Gabor, A., Thorton, J., & Wienner, D. P. (1987), “Star Turns That Can Turn Star-Crossed,” U.S. News and World Report, 103 (December 7), 57.

Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986a). Communication and persuasion: Central and peripheral routes to attitude change. New York: Springer-Verlag. 

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

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