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, November 18, 2016

Make Love Not Scars

This powerful advert is part of an effective campaign based in Delhi that aims to rehabilitate victims of acids attacks and ban the sale of acid. It is incredibly persuasive due to its clever use of shock tactics. The advert copies the style of many popular beauty videos, but with one key difference, the girl presenting is the victim of an acid attack.

Dahl, Frankenberger and Machanda (2003) suggest shock tactics are an effective tool for persuasion because they violate norms. This surprises the audience leading them to use additional cognitive processing, such as retention and elaboration, when presented with the shocking message. In addition, a violation of norms leads to cognitive dissonance as it creates an inconsistency between an individuals beliefs and behaviour (Festinger, 1957). For example, an individual may think of themselves as a charitable or caring person, but this advert reminds the viewer of a cause they have not supported. Therefore, the viewer can resolve this dissonance by donating to the charity, turning the negative emotion into a positive one.
However, using shock tactics can be risky. They can make people feel uncomfortable and thus, in order to reduce any dissonance they may be feeling, individuals may simply change the channel or hide the ad.


Dahl, D. W., Frankenberget, K.D., & Machanda, R.V. (2003). Does it pay to shock? Reactions to shocking and nonshocking advertising content among university students. Journal of Advertising Research, 43, 268-280. 

Festinger, L. (1957). A Theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

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