We are bombarded with attempts at
persuasion every day.
Can we find some in this room?
We are often persuaded by media that is NOT
Attempts at Persuasion:
Are these subtle / clever and indirect?
Advertising integrated into /
(posing) as entertainment
The effects of media
• “If it bleeds, it leads”
– Over half of news programs’ content is about
suffering / conflict
– Unbalanced, inaccurate perceptions of the world
• Emotional contagion
– the rapid transmission of emotions or behaviors
through a crowd
– coverage of topics can cause and influence later
• Tylenol/cyanide poisonings
• Copycat suicides
• Road sign tampering
Effectiveness of Media Appeals
• Very effective
• Repeated exposure to anything makes us more
familiar with it and then like it more
How to
Campaign Spending for 2008 Election
Is a message education or propaganda?
• Propaganda
– Systematic propagation (spread, promotion,
transmission) of a given doctrine
• Education
– Act of imparting knowledge or skill
• Classification depends on own values
The Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion
(Petty & Cacioppo, 1986)
Will a person think through (and be likely to elaborate on) a
persuasive message?
Use peripheral route if:
Person focuses on superficial cues presented
1) person does not have ability (intelligence, time) or
motivation to think
2) message is not personally relevant
3) person is in positive mood
(If the cues are appealing) the resulting attitudes are changed -- but
not resistant to counterarguments
not predictive of behavior
An example of the peripheral route
The Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion
(Petty & Cacioppo, 1986)
Will a person think through (and be likely to elaborate on) a
persuasive message?
Use central route if:
• Person focuses on arguments presented
1) person has ability (intelligence, time) and motivation to
think/need for cognition (personality characteristic)
2) message is personally relevant
3) person in neutral or negative mood
(If arguments are strong) the resulting attitudes are:
• strong
• resistant to counterarguments
• predictive of behavior
Examples of the use of central route:
Non-fiction books
Messages often use both routes
What factors can affect the
effectiveness (persuasiveness) of a
It’s source
(who says it)
expert and trustworthy
It’s nature
(how it is said)
logical versus emotional
statistical evidence versus
a vivid personal example
one-sided versus
two-sided arguments
the order of presentation
Audience characteristics
(to whom is it said)
prior experience
of the audience
WHO: Credibility
• Expert
– Have comprehensive
knowledge or skill in an
area – above/beyond what
is typical
• Trustworthy
– Be honest and truthful
– Argue against own selfinterest
– Appear that you are not
trying to influence and you
will reduce resistance to
the message
WHO: Attractiveness
Have an overall likability
physical and personality qualities
We assume that attractive people have
desirable, worthy, appealing messages
• But we are persuaded only on trivial issues
– This occurs even if intent to persuade is known
Luntz’s “words” affect politics and policy
“death tax” versus “estate tax”
“tax relief” versus “tax cuts”
“war on terror” versus “war in Iraq”
“climate-change” versus “global warming”
WHAT: Logical versus emotional
• Have similarities with central versus peripheral
• Overall emotional appeals are more effective
• More educated folks more likely to respond to logic
• Persuaders use classical conditioning
• We associate product with positive experience
Fear as a sales technique
Another example
Fear + instructions of how to change is more
• High self esteem folks respond with immediate
• Low self esteem folks respond with delayed action
WHAT: Statistical evidence versus vivid
personal example
• Overall: The single, vivid personal example is the
– This is not logical!
– But the more vivid (strong, clear images) the
example, the more persuasive it is
• “You would have a hole in your wall the size of a
WHAT: One-sided versus
two-sided arguments
• Effectiveness of approach depends on:
• initial position of audience
• knowledge of audience
• One-sided best if “preaching to the choir”
• Two-sided best if audience is opposed or will
be / already is aware of both sides
Making the use of one-sided
arguments possible
Data is collected on you
when you are on social websites and
when you “Like” or “Recommend” from
any other website
WHAT: The order of presentation
• Primacy effect: first info is more persuasive
• Recency effect: last info is more persuasive
• Which one occurs?
• Depends on timing.
1. Between first and last message
2. Between last message and actual decision
The Order of Presentation
• Learning of first material interferes with /
inhibits learning of later material
• Retention is best for information just prior to
TO WHOM: Self-esteem
• People who have low self-esteem are more
easily influenced compared to people with high
TO WHOM: Prior experience
of the audience (frame of mind)
• More receptive / persuaded if: well fed, relaxed, in good mood
• Less receptive / persuaded if:
• forewarned, especially if message differs from beliefs
• we feel reactance: when our sense of freedom is threatened and
we need to restore it
• we have time, cognitive capacity to develop counterarguments
• experience an inoculation effect: are exposed to small doses of
arguments against own position, are now more immune to later
• we more motivated to defend our beliefs
• we gain practice in defending beliefs
Effects of TV Watching
• American average: more than 7 hours/day; 30 hours/week;
1500 hours/year watched
• Heavy viewers (defined as more than 4 hours/day and
compared to viewers of less than 2 hours/day):
• Express more racially prejudiced attitudes
• Overestimate number of doctors, lawyers, athletes
• Perceive women as limited in abilities and interests
• Believe violence is more prevalent than it is
• Are less happy
• Are more likely to have a dispositional view about crime