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

Pigs have feelings too! Go Vegetarian!

The first persuasion technique used in this advert is ‘Affect’ from MINDSPACE (Dolan et al., 2012). Research has shown that emotional associations influence the way we think and behave (Dolan et al., 2012). If we feel an emotion when we view something we are more likely to attend to it and hence remember it better (Lang, Newhagen & Reeves, 1996). For example, Dillard and Peck (2000) found that when guilt was induced in a public service announcement (PSA), participants were more likely to accept the message of the PSA. The impact of negative affect has also been demonstrated in public health campaigns, in which negative adverts are often most effective (Apollonio & Malone, 2009). In the advert above, emotional images are used along with information that reminds the reader that pigs are similar to animals they consider as pets. Comparison to dogs was chosen as dogs are the most popular pet in the UK (PFMA, 2015) and therefore this will increase personalization and hence negative affect (guilt and sadness). This emotional reaction should ensure that viewers attend to the advert and remember it when making decisions in the future (Joffe, 2008).

Having large images as the main focus of the advert ensures that emotion will be induced. For example, Boholm (1998) demonstrated that visually presented news provokes more emotional engagement and concern than textually presented news. Also, use of strong visual images increases the salience and memorability of the message (Joffe, 2008).

Another technique being used is emotional contagion – the idea that individuals feel emotions that they see displayed on someone else’s face. Due to this phenomenon, it has been found that people are more likely to donate to a charity if the advert displays someone with a sad face (Small & Verrochi, 2009). The advert above displays two pictures of pigs in which their facial expressions look sad and they are in distressing situations. It is likely that the viewer will feel sad when they see this advert and hopefully a persistent association between meat and negative emotions (sadness and guilt) will occur.


Apollonio, D. E., & Malone, R. E. (2009). Turning negative into positive: public health mass media campaigns and negative advertising. Health Education Research, 24(3), 483-495.
Boholm, A. (1998). Visual images and risk messages: commemorating Chernobyl. Risk Decision and Policy, 3(2), 125-143.
Dillard, J. P., & Peck, E. (2000). Affect and persuasion emotional responses to public service announcements. Communication Research, 27(4), 461-495.
Dolan, P., Hallsworth, M., Halpern, D., King, D., Metcalfe, R., & Vlaev, I. (2012). Influencing behaviour: The mindspace way. Journal of Economic Psychology, 33(1), 264-277.
Joffe, H. (2008). The power of visual material: Persuasion, emotion and identification. Diogenes, 55(1), 84-93.
Lang, A., Newhagen, J., & Reeves, B. (1996). Negative video as structure: Emotion, attention, capacity, and memory. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 40(4), 460-477.
Marino, L., & Colvin, C. M. (2015). Thinking pigs: A comparative review of cognition, emotion, and personality in sus domesticus. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 28.
Pet Food Manufacturers Association. (2015). Pet population 2014-2015. Retrieved from
Reimert, I., Bolhuis, J. E., Kemp, B., & Rodenburg, T. B. (2015). Emotions on the loose: emotional contagion and the role of oxytocin in pigs. Animal Cognition, 18(2), 517-532.
Small, D. A., & Verrochi, N. M. (2009). The face of need: Facial emotion expression on charity advertisements. Journal of Marketing Research, 46(6), 777-787.

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