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

Course Description Syllabus Course Notes and Handouts Course Assignments +

Introduction to Persuasion

A. Defining Characteristics of Persuasion. Key terms (as we will use them in this class and as they are often used by professionals and researchers):
  1. Choice (“autonomous receivers”) is a prerequisite for persuasion

    1. reflective thinking occurs

    2. alternatives are present

    3. persuasion is not coercion (= no realistic choice - only force gets the change)

  2. Intent to persuade must be present - Intention to cause change

  3. Change (“alter or strengthen”) in mental state is central to the concept.

    1. feelings (like/dislike) - attitude

    2. actions - behavior, motive

    3. thoughts / reasons (remember, convince) - beliefs, value


  4. Communication (Symbols) is involved – “verbal/nonverbal messages” **

  5. Credible Sources/ Information may be necessary.  Is that sufficient?

  6. Persuasion is Transactional – and not mere information giving but change is involved.

  7. It is useful to distinguish the Attempt vs having an Effect/success.

          **   "Message:" (in this class and in most professional settings) means a single, discreet, tangible expression, verbal or nonverbal (e.g. a single radio/TV ad, a billboard or other sign, a single speech, paid text on a Google search page, etc.  "Message" does NOT mean your concept, or thesis, or central idea or USP or persuasive theme or strategy, etc.  


B.  Herb Simons’ Definition of Persuasion - “ Human communication designed to influence the autonomous judgments and actions of others.”

  • Persuasion, according to Simons, does NOT include

                           (1)    use of Material Inducements (bribes, contracts)

                           (2)    Coercion


C.   What is the role of information in persuasion?

                  i.       Is there such a thing as pure information (with no persuasive effect)?

                  ii.      Is there such a thing as pure expression?

                  iii.     Is all communication "persuasive?"    Is that the same as "influential?"


● Complete "Rhetorical Moment" cards ( 1 or 2 incidents/card ) and bring them to ALL subsequent classes.

     Describe a persuasion attempt .

     Identify the method used.                       

     Note whether or not it was effective and why?



last updated 1/12/2015