Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Applying Social Psychology to Vegan Outreach: Distraction

Will audiences remember the message or the sex?

November is World Vegan Month. To contribute to this month's activities, each day I will be presenting a social psychological concept or theory applied to abolitionist Nonhuman Animal rights. I began this series with a discussion of persuasion. Explorations into persuasion can be divided into research on the messenger, message, channel, and audience. Thus far, I have discussed what makes for an effective messenger, what channels are most appropriate, and some ways to improve the message. On November 21st, I began discussing audience, in particular, the impact of age on attitude change.  Yesterday I discussed how a forewarned audience is an audience not easily persuaded.  Today I discuss the role of distraction in audience persuasion.

Those who are distracted are more likely to accept a message and are less likely to counterargue (Keating and Brock 1974, Osterhouse and Brock 1970). Alternatively, advertisements steeped in violence and/or sex run the risk of being too distracting.  People who view commercials featuring either of these elements are less likely to remember what the advertised brand was (Bushman 2007). This is damning information for a great deal of Nonhuman Animal rights campaigning.  PETA's "I'd Rather Go Naked Than" campaign distracts from an anti-speciesist message with nudity.  Mercy For Animals' violence-heavy television commercial might be too distracting as well.

For the Vegan Toolkit

  • Ensure that tactics do not distract from the message
  • Avoid too much music, light, acting, sex, and violence


References

Bushman, B.  2007.  "That Was a Great Commercial, But What Were They Selling?  Effects of Violence and Sex on Memory for Products in Television Commercials."  Journal of Applied Social Psychology 37:  1784-1796.

Keating, J. and T. Brock.  1974.  "Acceptance of Persuasion and the Inhibition of Counterargumentation Under Various Distraction Tasks."  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 10:  301-309.

Osterhouse, R. and T. Brock.  1970.  "Distraction Increases Yielding to Propaganda by Inhibiting Counterarguing."  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 15:  344-358.

Regan, D. and J. Cheng.  1973.  "Distraction and Attitude Change:  A Resolution."  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 9:  138-147.