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, March 4, 2016

Swim your way to success... with Omega 3!

University can be a stressful time. The workplace can be a stressful place. We can all make small changes in our lives to minimize the stress and maximize performance. Take a chill pill of sorts- Omega 3. Society is obsessed with the latest dieting and weight loss fads, energy drinks full of sugar and the newest so-called performance enhancing 'superfoods'. Yet what we really need is to take it back to basics.

The advertisement aims to encourage people to think about their omega 3 intake and to consider the positive effects of increased omega 3. 

The use of anthropomorphisation within the cartoon image of the fish wearing graduation hats remind students of their end goal. This can be an effective persuasive tactic as it encourages students to avoid anticipatory regret and to push them towards higher omega 3 consumption and as a result, boosted brain power! 

Additionally, the use of a statement about the positive effects of omega 3 'as found by doctors' creates a white coat effect (Milgram, 1963). This effect was demonstrated in Milgram's famous 1963 study whereby an experimenter wearing a white coat increased obedience levels in an experiment where the participant had give electric shocks to another 'participant' (confederate).

The expert-unknowing altercast technique (Lefkowitz et al, 1955) used in this advertisement induces students to engage in the target behaviour as a doctor is traditionally viewed as a prominent figure within the social hierarchy; a person who's advice and guidance should be followed. Additionally, the reader is likely to have little motivation to investigate the statements any further and is likely to take them at face value, feeling that they must be correct as the person saying them holds the status of 'doctor'. This persuasive technique is demonstrated in research from Lefkowitz et al (1955) whereby people were more likely to jaywalk if they had just witnessed a person wearing a suit do it compared to when they had witnessed a person wearing denim jaywalk. This shows that clothing can influence a person's view of another individual's place within the social hierarchy. In the case of this advertisement, the use of the word 'Doctors' explicitly tells the reader of the source's place within the social hierarchy.

Furthermore, the use of a statistic 'there are now nearly 20,000 published studies about the benefits of omega 3' aims to highlight the salience of the findings to the reader. The reader sees the figure and believes that increasing omega 3 intake must be worthwhile if so many people are talking and reading about it.


Lefkowitz, M., Black, R. R., & Mouton, J. S. (1955). Status factors in pedestrian violation of traffic signals. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 51, 704-706.

Milgram, S. (1963).  Behavioural Study of Obedience. Journal of abnormal and social psychology, 67, 371-378.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.