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

Using Audience Analysis – Social Bases of Persuasion


  A.      Sources of Social Persuasion - At multiple points in a persuasive campaign persuaders should emphasize several of the following:


1.      Social Proof - judging actions to take on the basis of what others do (e.g. bandwagon, IEM, reference group "endorsement")


2.      Authority - judging actions to take on the basis of what authority figures say


3.      Identification between persuader/campaign and receivers – building UNITY with others

1.      Show Similarity

2.      Emphasize Shared experience

3.      Make Visible Shared values and beliefs


  B.      Commonplaces – widely shared cultural beliefs, values and schemata

If you can link your persuasive arguments/messages to these beliefs and values, the effectiveness of your persuasive efforts will likely increase. 

1.      American cultural beliefs and values  (Steele and Redding)

  • Puritan & Pioneer Morality (honesty, simplicity, cooperation, self discipline, courage, orderliness, personal responsibility, rugged individualism)

  • The value of the individual

  • Achievement and success

  • Change and progress

  • Ethical equality and equal opportunity

  • Effort and optimism (things will work out, hard work pays off)

  • Efficiency, practicality

  • Rejection of authority

  • Science and secular rationality

  • Sociality (be nice, get along)

  • Material comfort

  • Quantification (bigger is better)

  • External conformity (demonstrates sociality)

  • Humor (demonstrates sociality

  • Generosity and considerateness (pioneer ethic)

  • Patriotism


2.      Audience Specific Norms (e.g. NRA, Farmers, Teachers, etc. )


Audience Types

(The Source's Credibility and Attitude Similarity with the Audience)

(This assumes the source is sincere in his/her advocacy.)


A.      High Credibility - High Agreement - preaching to the choir

1.      Will gain high attention usually (e.g. a political convention)

2.      Reinforcement is still useful for these groups

3.      Seek action and second order communicators from this audience


B.      High Credibility - Low Agreement

1.      Spend time building identification between source and audience, OR

2.      Make the best case possible because at least they’ll listen and maybe yield


C.      Low Credibility - High Agreement

1.      The boomerang effect is a possibility

2.      But the speaker can enhance his/her own credibility (Osgood) in this situation

3.      Don’t fawn.


D.      Low Credibility - Low Agreement (Barbara Bush at Wellesley)

1.      You may be able to make audience less comfortable with their old views (realistic goals – see rational model handout)

2.      Humor (self-effacing) may work if you're good at it


last updated 2/23/2010