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, March 21, 2016

Just Ask!

For our project, we focused on encouraging asking for things amongst those from a low socio-economic background.

Research by Lareau (2011) showed that children from a middle-class background often have a privileged upbringing and are taught to ask for things. She suggested that this could explain differences in the life outcomes of those from a low socio-economic background and a higher socio-economic background. Therefore, we thought it would be a good idea to inform students from a low socio-economic background about the benefits of asking to hopefully improve their lives both now and in the future.

We targeted school students aged 17-18 years old in a local school in a deprived area of Coventry. We delivered a short and engaging presentation to 30 students, lasting 20 minutes. In our presentation, we told students about a few studies (Clark & Hatfield, 1989; Langer, Blank & Chanowitz, 1978) that had shown the benefits of simply asking for things. 

Here is one of our slides. We were unable to take pictures in the session due to school policy.

In this slide, we presented the findings of Clark and Hatfield (1989). We described their procedure (i.e. what was asked of participants) and asked the students to give their estimates to the questions for each gender, before showing them the actual findings. They largely underestimated the power of simply asking. They were particularly surprised when they saw that the agreement rate for a female asking a male “Would you go to bed with me tonight?” was 75%. Immediately after this slide, and other slides with research on them, we emphasised the power of how simply asking for things often gets you them.

We also focused our presentation on ways of improving their futures through asking. For example, encouraging students if they are looking for a part-time job to just go into stores and just ask if they have any available vacancies. Another example was encouraging them to ask for discounts now and in the future, such as negotiating a price on a bike, a car and second hand items on sites like eBay or Gumtree. We engaged the students in an interactive discussion to come up with things that they could ask for in their lives currently, and in the future. 

We passed our presentation onto the head of the sixth form centre at the school with the idea that they will include this presentation as a part of their tutor time for all students. Since the teacher also sat in, she was aware of how to deliver the session. Hopefully this will have a widespread effect on more and more pupils.

- Nicole Hyare and Jayna Patel

Clark, R. D., & Hatfield, E. (1989). Gender differences in receptivity to sexual offers. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 2, 39-55.

Langer, E., Blank, A., & Chanowitz, B. (1978). The mindlessness of ostensibly thoughtful action: The role of “placebo” information in interpersonal interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 635-642.

Lareau, A. (2011). Unequal childhoods: Class, race, and family life. University of California Press.

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