Action-based advertising: The effects of behaviour change on attitudes

Jóhannes Páll Sigurðarson

Student thesis: Master thesis


Background: Through the years people have argued whether comes first, attitude change or behaviour change. The predominant view has been that attitudes precede behaviour but with new technology and insight changing behaviour rather than attitudes has received more attention. From that a phenomenon has emerged which is in this thesis called action-based advertising. It is defined as a behaviour that an individual performs towards a brand which is not the action of purchase or consumption. Purpose: To research the effectiveness of action-based advertising a theoretical framework was needed. The research theory chosen is self-perception theory. The basic postulate is that individuals come to know internal states from observations of their own overt behaviour, when they believe that the behaviour stems from their own internal motivations. Method: An experiment was performed to see whether a designed behaviour would have an effect on the attitude measures of involvement and brand attribute beliefs. This was done by having an experimental condition perform the behaviour and comparing it to a control group. The experiment examined the effects on both high- and low-involvement product categories. Conclusions: The experiment could not prove the effectiveness of action-based advertising. A possible explanation for this is that participants in the experiment were not motivated to perform the behaviour. According to self-perception theory the participants attributed the behaviour to external factors and not infer their attitudes from it. Theory however predicts that action can be a powerful catalyst for attitude and behaviour change, so the phenomenon should be researched further. Recommendations: An assumption was made from the experiment that action-based advertising adheres to the same principles as traditional marketing communications. Therefore campaigns for low-involvement products should convey a simple message while high-involvement products can be more complex. Suggestions for future studies: Future research for action-based advertising should rather explore the effects of a behaviour on a subsequent one. This facilitates motivation of the behaviour and eliminates the intervention of measuring attitudes.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages83