Boomerang Effect

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Date Submitted: 08/04/2013 08:48 AM

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This week I found a new interesting marketing communication method called “boomerang effect.” The boomerang effect is the social phenomenon that pushes a person towards anti-conformity (Bird, 2011). In other words, if a social marketing clause tries to strongly change the perception of someone, an equal force will counter that effort. This would then result in an attitude change away from the original effort given by the social marketing clause (Brehm, 1966).

If you still don’t get the concept, don’t worry. It took me a while as well, and it’s really simple once you get it. I’ll give you an example. For example, a group of college students campaigning to reduce alcohol consumption had an effect that increased alcohol consumption among their peers. What happened was that their peers read the campaign statement (The campaign stated that average college students spends $900 on alcohol per year) and realized that they were spending less on alcohol than the average person, so they spent more on alcohol and drank more to drink more than an average college student (Bird, 2011). Thus, the campaign created an opposite effect than the intended purpose.

Another interesting aspect about the boomerang effect is that it can relate with the “magnetic middle,” which is the force that attracts people towards the middle or average (Bird, 2011). So what happened with the alcohol campaign was that they were using social norms to influence the behavior of the students. This social norm provided a point of comparison for the students with the average. Thus those students who were above or below the average were attracted to the middle.

Although I explained the boomerang effect in a light manner, the dynamic relationship between agreement and confrontation is very complex. As I mentioned previously, there are two forces in persuasive communication – one that pushes towards positive change (directed by the communication) and one that resists the positive change. But the degree of...