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Watch out!! Effects of a poster on behavioural change

Dorman, H.M. (2015) Watch out!! Effects of a poster on behavioural change.

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Abstract:During the last few years, the prevention of health care associated infections has received a growing amount of attention. The number of deaths due to preventable harm in healthcare organisations is estimated at 1700 per year, and the outbreak of infections is seen as one of the most important causes of preventable harms (Arets, 2012). Health care workers often violate the most basic guideline, not wearing jewellery during work. In the past, several campaigns promoting better hand hygiene were launched, but substantial lasting effects had not been reached. Therefore, this study investigates whether campaigns that make use of posters can be effective and which factors are of influence on behavioural change. In this study I set out to analyse which kind of posters are cognitively processed and whether that may lead to planned or automatic behavioural change. This is done by comparing the effects of a poster with an explicit message and a poster with a pun. The research question is: “In which way is an activating message on a poster processed, and to what extent does the design of the poster influence planned or automatic behaviour change?” To answer the research question, three methods were used: an observational study, a survey and semi-structured interviews. The study was conducted in two nursing homes in the vicinity of Nijmegen; ‘Het Herstelhotel’ and nursing home ‘Madeleine’. In ‘Het Herstelhotel’ the poster with the explicit message was revealed and the poster with the pun was hung up in Madeleine. Both posters showed the same picture. In total, 65 respondents participated. Their behaviour according to the wearing of jewellery was observed before the poster was hung and three weeks after the placement of the poster. During the second observation they were asked to fill in the questionnaire. 25 of them have participated in the interview study. The results of this study showed that the poster with the pun led to a more positive attitude and higher attention than the poster with the explicit message, but there was no difference between both posters regarding recall, and perceived comprehension. In contrast to the study of Berendsen (2012), this present study revealed that there was no difference between both posters regarding behavioural change. During the second observation, significantly less jewellery was worn in both conditions. Moreover, the interviews showed that respondents themselves were of the opinion that the poster had no effect on their behaviour, but they reported that the social environment and more or less their involvement with the job had influenced them. Based on these results it could be concluded that both posters were observed, but the design was not deeply processed. Both posters may have served as a prompt, which triggered the unconscious process and led to automatic behavioural change. The respondents may (unconsciously) know that the wearing of jewellery is forbidden and were again reminded when they saw the poster. Thereby, they want to conform to the social norm, and therefore wear no jewellery anymore. All in all it could be concluded that this study has led to more knowledge about the effects of posters on the processes of behaviour change. Managers of all kinds of organisations could use this knowledge to achieve desired behavioural change. They do not need to design expensive posters, for example, because the design of the poster does not influence the behaviour. For further research it is recommended to measure the extent to which the automatic behavioural change is permanent.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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