COMM 339 -- Persuasion

Dr. Lee McGaan  

  Office:  WH 308  (ph. 309-457-2155);  email lee@monmouthcollege.edu
  Home:  418 North Sunny Lane (ph. 309-734-5431)

Spring 2014 Office Hours:   MWF:  9-10am & 2-3pm  & by apt.  |  copyright (c) by Lee McGaan, 2006-2014

Course Description Syllabus Course Notes and Handouts Course Assignments

 Persuasion Theories
last updated 1/24/2013

Cognitive Rational Theories

Learning Theories

Consistency Theories

Perceptual Theories

COMM 339 Course Page

(Cognitive Dissonance )

I. Cognitive Response - Rational Theories  (mental processing)

The Law of Cognitive Response:  "The successful persuasion tactic is one that directs and channels thoughts so that the target thinks in a manner agreeable to the communicator's point of view."  AP 31.

A. Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) (AP 3 & 4 ) 

 

1.The Two Routes to Persuasion - Persuasion depends on receiver motivation to think/care, that is, personal relevance of the issue and ability to think about the persuasive topic.  

 

a.  Peripheral route - receivers have low attention, little processing, less persistent effects - [i.e. little elaboration]

(1)

 

(2)

 

(3)

 

(4)

 

 

b.  Central route - receivers consider the merits [much elaboration].  This is the same as the Rational Model below

(1)

 

(2)

 

(3)

 

 

The greater the individual's motivation and ability to "elaborate" arguments, the more the central route will be used.

 

B.  Rational Model -- Persuasion is thinking through the issue and figuring out what makes sense for you, the audience member - Aristotle/traditional rhetoric centers on this  (AP 3 & 4).   This model is essentially synonymous with the CENTRAL ROUTE.

1. 

a. 

b. 

 

2. 

a. 

b. 

3. 

 

4. 

 

B + V &/or M = attitude - - - > behavior

 

( This model assumes: )

a.  credible sources for beliefs

b.  incentive to act

c.  reflectivity on the part of the receiver

 

All elements should fit the audience.

 

 

II.  Learning Theories  Persuasion is really just a version of learning the desired response to persuasive efforts (often using conditioning and prestige suggestion)   

 

A.  Hovland's Learning Theory  (4 steps)  (AP ch.2 p. 27)

 

1.

 

2.

 

3.

 

4.

 

 

 

 

B.  McGuire’s - 2 Stage Theory

 

 

1.  reception stage -

 

 

 

2.  yielding stage -

 

 

 

 

C.  Identity Emotive Model  ( 4 steps)

1. 

 

2. 

 

3. 

 

4. 

 

III.  Consistency Theories - Inconsistent cognitions create pressure for (mental) change, thus persuasion.

 

A.  Balance theory - Heider

1. Valance of relationships (positive or negative) between Source, Cognition, & Receiver can cause change.

 

                                               S

                                             /     \

                                         C ------  R

 

 

2. Premises

a.  imbalance is unpleasant

b.  we're "driven" to reduce imbalance in some ways

c.  Methods of coping with imbalance

(1) 

(2) 

(3) 

(4) 

 

3. 

 

4.  Strengths of the model

a. 

b. 

 

5.  Weakness of the model

a. 

b. 

c. 

 

B.  Congruity Theory - Osgood's improvement on balance model.

 When a source favors a concept favorability of source and concept move toward each other on the -3 to +3 persuasion continuum.

 

 

C.  Cognitive Dissonance:  Leon Festinger  (AP ch. 4)

This is one of the most researched persuasion theories.  Festinger took Osgood's theory and concluded that the receiver's view of the source is just one more kind of "cognition."

 

1.  Cognitions can have three relationships

a.  dissonant

b.  consonant

c.  irrelevant

--  and dissonance causes tension ---> pressure for change.

 

 

2.  Methods of coping with imbalance by receivers

a.  seek social support or evidence for our preferred opinion

b.  misperceive source's position

c.  compartmentalize the difference

d.  attempt to change the source's view

 

3.  Case 1 -- Decisions  (e.g. choice of car)

 

 

 

 

 

4.  Case 2 - Involuntary exposure to counter information -- dissonance is high if:

a. 

b. 

and

c. 

 

 

 

 

5.  Case 3 - Social support (Confronting a source who disagrees with you)  Dissonance is high if:

a.  the person is highly liked  and

 

b.  the issue is important.

 

 

c.  note sleeper and boomerang effects

 

 

 

 

6.  Case 4 -- Forced compliance - offer rewards for doing something disliked (or punishments)

a.  when reward is low; persuasion is high if act is done

b.  when reward is high; persuasion is high if act is NOT done

c.  Note the effect of rhetorical overkill

d.  self persuasion again is at work here

e.  if source is disliked but you go along, higher persuasion 

 

 

 

 

IV.  Perceptual Theories

 

A.  Social Judgment Theory - assimilation & contrast

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.  When persuasive effort falls within the latitude of acceptance, change occurs (like congruity) -- assimilation

 

 

2.  When persuasive effort falls in the latitude of rejection, a contrast effect occurs - boomerang

 

 

3.  size of latitudes is influenced by centrality of belief & attitude.

 

 

 

 

 

 

B.  Attribution Theory - how we attribute motives, actions, affects our interpretations and, thus, persuades.  Effects --

 

 

1.  

 

 

2.  

 

 

3.  

 

 

 

 

 

V.  Fishbein-Ajzen Theory of Reasoned Action -- Behavior-Attitude Discrepancy

 

 

 

A.  behavior is the result of attitude toward object AND

 

 

B.  attitude toward behavior

 

 

C.  and behavior involves belief/attitude complexes

1.  Will the behavior accomplish what I want,

2.  Will I risk something,

3.  Are there constraints on my actions,

4.  Do I have the knowledge of how to act,

5.  Are there competing values,

6.  Have I made public commitments that influence my action,

7.  inertia, etc.

 

D.  Persuasion is the result of an implicit or explicit “cost-benefit analysis.”