COMM 339 -- Persuasion

Dr. Lee McGaan  

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Information and Persuasion



1.  Education vs Propaganda -- the blurry line (AP 31)

  • is it a difference in values

  • or hidden/deceptive motive (hiding your persuasive purpose)

  • or unethical practice ??


2. Become a cult leader - its standard persuasion but more systematic - Brain washing and social support   (AP 36)

  •   Create a social reality - eliminate outside information

·        Allow the cult's world view only

·        The perspective must be capable of being self contained

·        Use common vocabulary, themes, heuristics, myths

·        Engage in massive, enforced repetition


·       Granfallon - "the chosen" vs out-groups and use symbols to reinforce this new identity

·        Create commitment through dissonance reduction

·        Escalating requests yield escalating commitment

·        Get people into a sense of having already committed

·        Put recruits in a situation which would be hard to explain to outsiders -- guilt and rationalization

·        Establish leader attractiveness, power, credibility (unassailable)

·        Get members to proselytize (commitment goes way up - self persuasion)

·        Distract members from undesirable thoughts (fatigue, singing, noise) to stop counter-arguments (thoughts of the devil).

·        Fixate on a phantom promised land


3.  Subliminal Persuasion (AP 34)

  •  There’s some evidence for subliminal perception (as awareness only).

  •  There’s no good evidence that it influences behavior, esp. conscious behavior and plenty that it doesn’t work.

  •  The fact that people falsely belief in subliminal persuasion may be more interesting than the phenomenon itself.


4.  3rd Reich -- THE PERIPHERAL ROUTE!!  emotion and entertainment (red & black)   (AP 37)

organizational and total control of all messages is the key

  • Focus on a few points repeated endlessly

  • Control all media

  • Use Slogans -- pictures in the head, schemata, cultural myths

  • Band of supporters/enforcers  - SS --> inoculation and granfallon

  • leader credibility and the "Big Lie"

  • fear & anger -------------------------------------------------------------|