COMM 339 – Persuasion

Theory Knowledge Homework


For each of the persuasion “events” described below, identify the specific persuasion theory you believe best explains or fits the circumstances or method used by the “persuader” (or the result described).  Then explain in a few words why the theory you selected seems the correct one (e.g. what features of the theory match elements of the event).


  1. When I want my roommate to give me a ride to Galesburg, I offer to buy him food at Buffalo Wild Wings.


 McGuire's 2-stage theory.  Presumably the roommate can and has in the past "received" the message so the emphasis here is on giving a reward to facilitate "yielding" by the roommate.  Hovland's theory will work as well, "incentive to act."  The Rational Model can also work if explained clearly in terms of B+V/M, as discussed in class


  1. Soft drink companies often select popular, famous people to appear in their TV commercials.

Heider's Balance Theory.  Advertisers assume you will have a positive view (valance) toward the source of their message (the popular celebrity who speaks positively of the product) and, therefore, you will seek balance in your views by also developing a positive view of their product.  ELM Peripheral Rt. is a possible but weak choice here

  1. When public health officials attempt to convince parents to vaccinate their children for mumps and measles, it is very important that parents understand the dangers these diseases pose to children before pressuring the parents to sign a consent form.

    Hovland's Learning Theory.  Presenting the dangers of the diseases likely will both get attention of the parents (step 1) and insuring they understand will meet comprehension and recall elements of the theory (steps 2 and 3).  Pressure to sign the form at the urging of experts would be the incentive (step 4).  McGuire works too.


  1. A Maxwell House “Celebrate the Moments of your Life” commercial for coffee shows a mother and daughter talking lovingly about the daughter’s impending marriage as they sit down together and share a cup of (Maxwell House) coffee together.

    Identity-emotive Model.  The ad sets a scene up where the desirable identity (step 1 -loving relationship between mom and daughter) can be shown and enacted (steps 2 and 3).  Then Maxwell House coffee provides the means for enacting the relationship by having coffee (the product to be sold) together (step 4).


  1. In the last election, many political candidates believed that voters would oppose higher taxes because times are tough and higher taxes will take money out of voters pockets -- so those candidates promised not to raise taxes if elected.

    Rational Model.  A candidate wants voters to believe (B) he will keep taxes from rising.  That belief attaches to their motive (M) that "higher taxes will hurt me / cost me money" yielding a positive attitude (Att) toward the candidate that may result in getting their votes.(Beh.)  Balance Theory and Congruity Theory can work for this too if well explained.

  1. Magazine ads for designer clothes sometimes show very attractive people in luxurious locations with no words, just the designer’s logo.

    ELM - peripheral route.  The ad doesn't really give anything for the receiver to think about.  It appears to work mostly with a disengaged mind by using source attraction to link the product to positive feelings.  I.E.M. is a stretch since not product is mentioned or associated with the message.