Persuasion Essay Research Paper Persuasion is the

Persuasion Essay, Research Paper

Persuasion is the force exerted to influence behavior that includes a

reflected change in attitude. Everyday we are bombarded with messagesfrom

people who wish to influence our behavior and attitudes. Persuasion canbe

used to accomplish good as well as bad, though, in my paper I willrefrain

from making value judgements and only report the factual aspects. I will

discuss the two basic routes to persuasion, the elements involved, andways

to protect current attitudes and behaviors from change. When trying to

persuade someone, there are two different methods from which to choose-the

central and peripheral routes. The central route persuades by usingdirect

arguments and pertinent information. The peripheral route persuadespeople

by association with incidental cues that are pleasing to the senses. The

central route is used to reach people who are more motivated and

analytical, while people who are less analytical and less involved aremore

likely to be influenced by the peripheral route. In advertising a

combination of the two is common and effective. Computer ads relyprimarily

on the central route, because their target audiences are perceived as

highly analytical. Promotion for alcohol and tobacco products employ the

peripheral route because they wish to draw attention away from thepossible

negative effects that they are, in reality, associated with. To truly

understand the effects of persuasion it is necessary to break the actdown

to its smaller components. The for elements of persuasion are 1.) The

communicator, 2.) The message content, 3.) How it is communicated, and4.)

The receiver of the message. The content of the message is important but

also whoever gives the message has an effect on people?s acceptance ofit.

The major determinant of the communicator?s success are his/herperceived

credibility and attractiveness. Credibility, or believability isdetermined

by the communicator?s appearance as an expert or as someone who can be

trusted. Expertise is established when the communicator is introduced as

someone who has a great deal of knowledge concerning the topic of

conversation. When the communicator relays viewpoints that areidentical to

the audience she/he will be perceived as smart. Also, to project animage

of expertise it is necessary to speak confidently and withouthesitating.

Trustworthiness of the communicator is assumed if direct eye contact is

used and speech is rapid. If the speaker is seen as not trying toinfluence

or is arguing a position that is against their personal interest theywill

be considered trustworthy. An attractive communicator has certain

qualities, like physical appeal and similarity, that draw in theaudience.

If the arguments of the attractive speaker are more readily accepted,

central route persuasion has occurred or if we are persuaded by the

unconnected positive association between the communicator and theproduct

there has been peripheral route persuasion. When statements are made toa

group by someone from the same ethnic background, the group is morewilling

to listen. It appears true, the belief that we like people who aresimilar

to us- and if we like someone we are more open to their suggestions. The

second element of persuasion, the content of the message, deals with the

specific type of messages that work best to convince. Emotional messages

are most effective on less educated people, while rational appeals tendto

score better with analytical or well educated people. Discrepancybetween

the message and receiver opinion often effects whether persuasionoccurs. A

credible communicator is most effective when arguing an extreme position

and someone who is not viewed as credible is best off giving a viewpoint

where there is a moderate discrepancy. Communicators must decidewhether to

put forth a one-sided or two-sided appeal. One-sided appeals work bestwith

those who already agree. Two-sided appeals work best with people who are

initially opposed to your idea. Also message acceptance is effected bywhen

it is heard and when the argument against that message is heard. Primacy

affect states ?Other things being equal, information presented first

usually has the most influence.?(1) The primacy effect works only whenboth

messages are heard at once, with a period of time passing before

responding. In a situation where a message is given followed by alengthy

period of time, and then the second message is given, the response is

usually to accept the second message. This is recency effect.?Information

presented last sometimes has the most influence. Recency effects areless

common than primacy effects.?(2) How the message is communicated, thethird

element to persuade, stresses the importance of message delivery.

?Communication is the most important and complex thing we do. It canshape

our careers, our lives, and our world… You can control the outcome of

your important interactions if you control your communication style.?(3)

The studies have shown that interpersonal contact influences behaviorand

attitudes much more than the media. Of course media still has great

influence. It has also been shown that the more realistic thecommunication

method the more likely it is to persuade, though complex messages arebest

understood and remembered if they are written. Simpler messages from the

media that are live or videotaped are most likely to persuade. Less

persuasive are audiotaped and written communication methods. The fourth

element of persuasion is the audience, or receiver of the message. Ageof

the audience matters greatly because many attitudes are directlyrelated to

how old the person is. There are two ways to explain the relationship

between age and attitude. The life-cycle explanation states that when

people get older their attitudes change. The generational explanation,

which is supported by more evidence, states that each generation adoptsan

attitude that is different from other generations, and does not changewith

time. The state of mind of the message receiver plays an important on

whether they are persuaded. When people feel they are about to bepersuaded

to do something they will build arguments against it and be less likelyto

be persuaded. A distracted state of mind often doesn?t have the abilityto

argue against persuasive messages, and therefore is more likely toaccept

them. Audiences that are image conscious and unconcerned with the truthare

more apt to be persuaded by the communicator?s attractiveness and other

peripheral cues. Analytical people who are more concerned with beingright,

are more influenced by central route communication. Now I?d like todiscuss

some ways for people to safeguard their beliefs and resist outside

influence. One of the best ways to prevent an unwanted attitudepersuasion

is to make public your commitment to your conviction. ?Once we havemade a

choice or taken a stand we will encounter personal and interpersonal

pressures to behave consistently with that commitmant.?(4) Because

inconsistency is viewed as a bad personality trait and consistentattitudes

and behavior equate to logic, stability, and honesty, people willrarely be

persuaded once they have made a strong commitment. Keep in mind,however,

that this persuasion resisting technique can be forced on you by othersas

seen in the cases of ?brain washing? of American POW?s during the Korean

war. The POW?s were asked to repeat mildly anti-American orpro-communist

statements. Once they willingly complied, prisoners were asked to make a

list of problems in America, which they had to discuss in a group. Thenext

step was to write an essay about the problems in America and have them

broadcast on the radio. Many POW?s stayed in China once granted freedom

because they had committed to their ant-American attitudes. Thisprevious

example also illustrates the foot-in-the-door phenomenon. Small requests

were made (the mildly anti-American statements) which opened the way for

larger, more substantial suggestions. Attitude inoculation is believedto

be the best way for people to avoid persuasion. It is defined as?Exposing

people to weak attacks upon their attitudes so that when strongerattacks

come they will have refutations available.?(5) Attitude inoculation was

found to increase commitment to an attitude in addition to developing

counterarguemnts. One application of the positive effects of attitude

inoculation was conducted by Alfred McAlister on a class of seventhgraders

that had them commit to anti-smoking attitudes. Role-Playing was used to

strengthen commitment to non-smoking by public declaration and therepeated

dialogue stimulated counterarguements. To truly understand the effectsof

persuasion on people you need to be familiar with the structure behind a

persuasive message. It is important to identify which route is beingused

(central or peripheral) and understand the effect of the communicator,the

content of the message, the method of communication, and the reaction by

the audience. Counterarguements in making a public commitment strengthen

out resistance to persuasion.


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