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



  Forewarned is forearmed?  (AP 38)

  1. Even though ads are obvious persuasion efforts and people say they are not much effected -- the fact is they seem to work

  2. Children under 8 have little resistance (weak on counter-arguments -- but the soon become cynics (88% don't trust ads by age 12)

  3. Ads work among the more sophisticated because of peripheral route issues - "heavily advertised goods must sell a lot and be good"

  4. Forewarning often only makes subjects wish to appear unpersuaded.

  5. Forewarning often appears to help immediately after message but then the FW effect wears off in a week or so.

  6. Forewarning doesn't provide a defense if subjects see the message issue as unimportant.

  7. It does work if the subjects are willing to think about rebutting the message

  8. OR, esp. if the audience is "inoculated" and given practice in rebuttal.

  9. Inoculation works best when "cultural truisms" are attacked (because we seldom consider why we believe these things and so don't have ready counter-arguments.)


  Stop Propaganda!  (AP 39)


  1. Recognize you too can be a victim of illegitimate persuasion (“gotcha”)

  2. Monitor your emotions when receiving persuasive messages

  3. Focus on the motivation and credibility of the persuader

  4. Take pride in being rational.  Mindless receivers are dupes.

  5. Consider your full range of options, not just what the persuader offers. (framing!)

  6. Judge agents/rhetors by outcomes not promises.

  7. Be aware of the prevalence of “Factoids.”

  8. Beware of the bandwagon.  Repetition and popularity are not proxies for truth.

  9. If is seems too good to be true, it probably is.

  10. Always think about counter arguments.

  11. Use multiple sources for information (and remember, the mainstream press may be a single source)

  12. Recognize the essentials of democratic systems.  Use them.  Help preserve them.

·        decentralized communication systems – multiple sources

·        power is constrained by checks and balancesBeware of "unchecked" communicators who control all the messages/evidence.

·        goals and agenda are set by discussion not leader fiat

·        reciprocity of influence between citizens and leaders

·        flexible social structures and roles

·        minority opinion is encouraged

Objections to data/evidence - What's wrong with the "proof" a persuader may be offering?

(1)               insufficient evidence

(2)               irrelevant evidence

(3)               suppressed evidence

(4)               unreliable source

(5)               biased source

(6)               unrepresentative sample

(7)               lack of proportion (no baseline)

(8)               atypical example

Last updated 5/4/2015