Social Psych Chapter 7- Persuasion

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A process by which a message induces change in beliefs, attitudes, or beh. – neither inherently good or bad.

What is the difference between persuasion and influence?

Persuasion is attitude change and influence is behavior change.

Central route to persuasion

occurs when interested ppl focus on the arguments and respond with favorable thoughts. Most effective when ppl are motivated and able to think about an issue. This focuses on the arguments. Persuasion is likely when arguments are strong and compelling. Generally, results in more enduring change. Ppl think harder, relying not just on persuader’s skills, but on their own thoughts.

Peripheral route to persuasion

occurs when ppl are influenced by incidental cues, such as speaker’s attractiveness. Sometimes, when not motivated or able to think carefully, the strength of arguments doesn’t matter; won’e take time to think it through. Trigger automatic acceptance without much thinking. Easily understood familiar statements are more persuasive than novel statements with same meaning. Advertisers attune to audiences to persuade – and audiences aren’t usually thinking too hard, so advertisers usually use peripheral persuasion. (But if it’s a purchase that requires more thought, like a car, will use central more). Is used more when we don’t have time for all the issues – stuff like heuristics, trust the experts. To make snap decisions.

What are the elements of persuasion?

The communicator, the message, how the message is communicated, and the audience.

Important aspects of the communicator

credibility, attractiveness


Believably. A credible communicator is perceived as both expert and trustworthy. But, the effectiveness of credibility wears off after about a month or so because the source may be forgotten (sleeper effect). If we know the source is credible in advance, we think more favorably in response to the message. If we learn after we have favorable responses, the confidence is strengthened.

Sleeper effect

a delayed impact of a message that occurs when initially discounted message becomes effective, such as when we remember the message but forget the reason for discounting (eg, the noncredible source).

Perceived expertise

Say things the audience agrees with, be knowledgeable about the topic, speak confidently.

Perceived trustworthiness

Look into eyes. Esp if audience believes the speaker is not trying to persuade them. If communicator argues against their own self-interest. When ppl talk quickly.


Having qualities that appeal to the audience. An appealing communicator is most persuasive on matters of subjective preference. Attractiveness is often similarity of the speaker to the listener. Can also be physical attractiveness. Advertisers use this. Similarity is sometimes more persuasive than credibility, but sometimes, it’s not. Depends mostly on whether the topic is about subjective preference or objective reality.

Questions dealing with message content

Reason or emotion? Will there be more opinion change from an argument than is very or only slightly discrepant from listener’s attitude? One-sided or two-sided arguments? Should you go first or last when there are debating speeches?

Reason vs Emotion

It depends on the audience. (Uninterested? Well-educated?) It also dpnds on how their attitudes were formed – through reason or emotion? (If an attitude was formed by emotion, the person is more likely to be persuaded by emotion).

The effect of good feelings

More persuasive. Ex- if eating something tasty, more good feelings, so message is more persuasive. ppl think positively and positive feelings are linked to the message. also, humor.

The effect of arousing fear

Can be effective. But, how much fear? Playing on fear works best if a message leads ppl not only to fear the severity but also perceive the solution and be able to do that. Gain-framed works better. (ex, you wear sunscreen, you have pretty skin)

Discrepancy: how much?

Disagreement produces discomfort, so perhaps greater disagreement produces more change (as with cognitive dissonance), or the person will just disagree. If the source is credible, great discrepancy works best. Also, dpnds on audience’s view. If they are deeply involved, then only use moderate discrepancy.

One-sided vs two-sided appeals

Two-sided works, generally. This depends on the listener. One-sided is more effective if the listener already agrees with the speaker’s argument. Two-sided works best if the listener initially disagreed. If the audience is exposed to opposing views, best to use two-sided.

Primacy effect

Other things being equal, information presented first usually has the most influence. (like the Asch exp)

Recency effect

Information presented last sometimes has the most influence. Less common. Happens as a result of forgetting. There is time separating the two arguments and ppl make a decision right after the second.

Channel of communication

The way a message is delivered – whether face-to-face, in writing, on film, or some other way. Includes: experience vs. passive acceptance, media vs personal, the two-step flow of media, and various kinds of media.

Channel of communication: active experience vs passive reception

Spoken words aren’t necessarily more powerful. The speaker has hurdles to get the audience to listen: must be understandable, convincing, memorable, and compelling. Passive appeals aren’t always futile, though. Ex – repetition, ads, rhyming. Persuasion decreases as significance of the issue increases.

The two-step flow of communication

The process by which media influences often occurs through opinion leaders, who in turn influence others. the trendsetters are influenced by marketers and politicians, who then influence populations. Media is very powerful, although face-to-face interactions are generally greater.

Comparing media

There are may kinds and many mediums of media. Listed in order of persuasiveness: Live (face to face); videotaped; audiotaped; written. Messages are best comprehended and recalled when written. So, if the message is hard to comprehend, it’s best if it is written.

Factors about the audience relating to persuasion

Age, what they are thinking

life-cycle explanation

Explanation for why age influences audience’s response to persuasion. States that attitudes change as ppl get older.

Generational explanation

Explanation for why age influences audience’s response to persuasion. States that attitudes do not change; older ppl largely hold onto the attitudes they adopted when they were young. This is more favored. Attitudes tend to stabilize in adulthood. In early adulthood and adolescence, experiences are very influential. However, older adults are not inflexible.

The audience’s thoughts

If the audience knows someone is going to try to persuade them, they may counterargue more (if they care). Distraction disarms counterarguing – Involvement of the audience

Distraction disarms counterarguing

Persuasion is enhanced by a distraction that inhibits counter arguing, esp if message is simple. But distraction can make is not pay attention, rendering the attempts of persuasion useless.

Need for cognition

the motivation to think and analyze. Assessed by agreement with items such as "the notion of thinking is appealing to me." Analytical ppl persuaded more by central route to persuasion. What we think in response to a message is critical – like rhetorical questions, multiple speakers, repeating, making ppl feel responsible…. Stimulating thinking makes strong arguments more persuasive and weak arguments less persuasive.


groups typically characterized by 1) distinctive rituals and beliefs related to its own devotion to a god or person, 2) isolation from surrounding "evil" culture, and 3) a charismatic leader. Sometimes called new religious movements


a spinoff from a major religion

Extreme persuasion: compliance breeds acceptance

membership to a cult is not trivial. Rituals, gunding, public recruitment leads to strengthened identities as members.

Extreme persuasion: foot in the door.

Not an abrubt, conscious decision. For example, a dinner, then a weekend of fellowship, then encouraged to sign up, and this leads to greater actions.

Persuasive elements in extreme persuasion/cults

The communicator is very charismatic, seen as credible. The message is emotional, about warmth and acceptance. The audience, usually 25 or younger, tends to overlook contradictions, converts at turning points and times of crisis, or away from home (they have some kind of need). Middle SES white young ppl most susceptible.

Group effects of cults

Separates members from previous groups. Social implosion – external ties weaken until the group collapses in on itself. Ppl lose access to counter arguments. Ppl reinforce each others’ thinking (folie a deux). Power is not unlimitted, and not used in just cults – in greek organizations, psychotherapy.

How can persuasion be resisted?

It is easier to accept than to doubt. So, to resist persuasion: Strengthen personal commitment. If you publically commit to something, you are less likely to change. Challenging beliefs can strengthen them. If a person challenges a belief with a weak argument, then the person is better able to resist a stronger argument and develop counterarguments. Bring attitudes to mind in response to an add.

Attitude inoculation

exposing ppl to weak arguments that attack their attitudes so that when stronger attacks come, they will have refutations available.

Poison parasite

A kind of ad, combines a poison (a strong counterargument) and a parasite (retrieval cues to bring to mind)

Persuasion can be defined as
A) a process aimed at changing a person’s attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs.
B) a change in behavior or belief as a result of real or imagined group pressure.
C) a process aimed at decreasing influence.
D) a change in behavior or belief as a result of a direct order from someone.


Persuasion research has shown that, due to similarity, a person will be more persuaded by
A) someone who is like them.
B) someone who is dissimilar to them.
C) someone who is taller than they are.
D) someone who is shorter than they are.


When people are presented with information and they are naturally analytical or the information is highly involving, they are likely to be persuaded via the ________________ route to persuasion. When people are not engaged with the information, or they tend to make snap judgments, they are more likely to be persuaded via the _______________ route.
A) peripheral; central
B) elaborative; peripheral
C) central; peripheral
D) central; elaborative


Which route to persuasion is more likely to produce lasting change?
A) The elaborative route to persuasion.
B) The peripheral route to persuasion.
C) The implicit route to persuasion.
D) The central route to persuasion.


Regarding one of the elements of persuasion, credibility pertains to
A) the financial status of the message communicator.
B) whether or not the message communicator is viewed as being an expert and someone who can be trusted.
C) who will hear the message.
D) how the message is communicated.


Which of the following is not one of the four elements of persuasion, originally described by Karl Hovland, and used today in persuasion research?
A) the sender of the communication.
B) the recipient of the communication.
C) the content of the communication.
D) the location of the communication.


What are the "two steps" in the two-step flow of communication?
A) First, persuade opinion leaders, who will then influence their friends, colleagues, and family members.
B) First, persuade friends, colleagues, and family members, who will then influence opinion leaders.
C) First, persuade grass-roots movements, who will then influence politicians.
D) First, make information "flow downhill," and then make information "flow uphill."


Persuasion research about the audience who receives the persuasive message has focused on what two aspects?
A) the weight of the person and minimizing the thought of the person.
B) the gullibility of the person and their level of intelligence.
C) the suggestibility of the person and their financial status.
D) the age of the person and stimulating the thoughts of the person.


Which of the following is more likely to be persuasive?
A) a positively framed message.
B) a happiness-producing message.
C) a fear-arousing message.
D) a message conveyed by an attractive communicator.


The most effective fear-arousing message is one that
A) offers a solution to deal with the problem.
B) bombards the person with fear.
C) inoculates the person with fear.
D) does not offer a solution to deal with the problem.


What is one technique that can be used to resist persuasion by others?
A) resistance cohesion.
B) attitude inoculation.
C) attitude infestation.
D) resistance tolerance.


Who was a pioneer in the field of attitude inoculation research?
A) William McGuire
B) Stanley Milgram
C) Solomon Asch
D) Robert Fuller


One criticism of the studies on why people join cults is that those studies are subject to
A) self-identity factors.
B) the overconfidence effect.
C) the self-fulfilling prophecy.
D) the hindsight bias.


Cults are also referred to as
A) new religious movements.
B) alternative new outgrowth.
C) factional truth believers.
D) true-way organizations.


Regarding persuasion of children, advertisers
A) do not focus on children because children do not have money to buy products.
B) do not focus on children because children are more savvy to advertising ploys compared to adults.
C) focus on children because children are relatively easy to persuade and children can convince their parents to buy a product.
D) focus on children as a challenge because they are difficult to persuade.


Initially, cults persuade prospective members to join the cult by inviting a person to dinner, then weekend retreats, and then use stronger methods of persuasion. This is similar to the
A) open-the-door technique.
B) the foot-in-the-door technique.
C) the low-ball technique.
D) the low-high technique.


Persuasion by others seems to work best when a person’s attitude about something is
A) fixed from the beginning.
B) weak to begin with.
C) firm to begin with.
D) initially constant.


Analytical people who enjoy thinking carefully, show
A) a high need to belong.
B) a low need for cognition.
C) a low need for object mastery.
D) a high need for cognition.


Which of the following is most likely to be the least persuasive?
A) A message from someone attractive.
B) A message that appears to be designed to change our attitude.
C) A message that arouses strong emotions.
D) A message from a credible expert.


Which message is more likely to be persuasive?
A) A tape recorded message on an audiocassette, delivered by mail, and heard on a tape recorder.
B) A verbal message delivered directly from a person to another person in a face-to-face setting.
C) A videotaped message delivered in the mail, and viewed on TV.
D) A hand-written message delivered by mail and read at home.


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