COMM 339 -- Persuasion

Dr. Lee McGaan  

  Office:  WH 308  (ph. 309-457-2155);  email
  Home:  418 North Sunny Lane (ph. 309-734-5431, cell 309-333-5447)

Fall 2016 Office Hours:   MWF:  9:30 - 10am, 11am - Noon & 1 -2pm TTh:  2-3pm & by apt.  |  copyright (c) by Lee McGaan, 2006-2016

Audience Analysis Dimensions and Methods

last updated 2/28/2012

I. CRITICAL DIMENSIONS OF THE AUDIENCE  (as derived from Persuasion Theories)


1. Attitude toward topic (including valance/strength and centrality)     [  Rational Model and T.R. A. ]




2. Attitude toward relevant behaviors and message purpose     [ T.R. A. ]

("active"ness on the issue - in general | attitude toward specific desired actions)




3. Relevant Audience Beliefs (esp. ones open to change). ( What does the audience know

about the topic?  What do they think is true that is? that isn't?  What important facts are do they

NOT know?)     [  Rational Model ]





4. Relevant Audience Values and their saliency     [  Rational Model and Social Judgment ]





5. Relevant Audiences Needs and Motives     [  Rational Model and credibility research  ]





6. Reference Groups for this audience (including but not limited to:      [ Peripheral Route and Consistency Theories  ]

  • self defined "memberships"

  • unity of the audience as a group

  • admired sources, 

  • opinion leaders & 2nd order communication



7. Situational variables (including but not limited to: 

  • occasion (key dates, holidays, publicly know events,etc.) 

  • expectations the audience has [concerning message content, source qualifications, timing)

  • other limits on message goals?



8. Mental Sophistication (including but not limited to: education, S.E.S. (socio-economic status), knowledge,

life and professional experiences, intelligence, etc. with your issue.)    [ McGuire and ELM  ]




NOTE Variety and segmentation on the above dimensions




  1. "Seat-of-the pants" (your best, thoughtful "guess" based on whatever first or second hand knowledge of the audience you have.)

  2. Observation (your best, thoughtful conclusions based on knowing and seeing members of your audience.)

  3. Interviews and "focus groups" (face-to-face conversations with representative members of your audience.  usually growing out of carefully structured questions related to the eight critical dimensions.)

  4. Surveys and polling (serious research efforts using writing or other systematic data collection using professional methods.)

  5. Demographic Analysis (using [publicly] available data on factors relevant to the eight critical dimensions based on characteristics that match those of your audience [e.g. 18-24 year olds attitudes since your audience is college students])