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.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Promoting Positive Self-Esteem

The aim of this project was to promote positive self-esteem in female students at The University of Warwick.

Research has shown that there is a correlation between self-esteem and make-up usage (Scott, 2007), specifically, the higher the make-up usage, the lower the self-esteem. We as females use make-up for different reasons and at different times. For some females, they may not feel as confident without make-up. For other females, they only use make-up when they go out. Therefore, we reasoned that increasing self-esteem will result in an increase in feelings of positivity about their facial features and result in a decrease in make-up use.

We asked females to indicate how they felt statements relating to self-esteem relate to them. Following this, we asked them to list 6 facial features they like and 12 facial features they dislike. This was our availability heuristic (Schwarz, Bless, Strack, Klumpp, Rittenauer,-Schatka & Simons, 1991). The point of this was increase the salience of facial features they liked and decrease the salience of features they dislike. This should hopefully result in an increase in feelings of positive self-esteem. After this, we asked if these females were willing to go seven days without wearing make-up. Some said yes. Some said no.

For those who said yes, we took a pre-test measure of how many days a week they use make-up and a post-test measure of how many days a week they use make-up. The results revealed there was a slight decrease in the amount of make-up used following the implementation of the availability heuristic (Figure 1). Since self-esteem and make-up use have been found to be correlated, this finding was interpreted as evidence that self-esteem had increased. Therefore, we had increased their self-esteem by promoting positive feelings about their facial features.

Figure 1 shows the number of days participants applied make-up in the week before and after the availability heuristic was applied.

The media we chose for our project was Instagram. We created a page called 'Project Makedown'. We asked females to write down one feature which they like about themselves without make-up and asked if we could take a picture to use for our Instagram page. Below are some examples. The hope is to increase our number of followers and make our desired change viral. You can visit our page here:

Fehinti Adesiyan & Gloria Williams


Schwarz, N., Bless, H., Strack, F., Klumpp, G., Rittenauer-Schatka, H., & Simons, A. (1991). Ease of retrieval as information: Another look at the availability heuristic. Journal of Personality and Social psychology61(2), 195.

Scott, S. (2007). Influence of cosmetics on the confidence of college women: an exploratory study. Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Hanover College, IN. Retrieved from http://psych. hanover. edu/research/thesis07/scottpaper. pdf.

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