Persuasion Theory Free Essay Example

April 13, 2022 by Essay Writer

According to DeVito (1991) there are three principal means of persuasion – reasoning and evidence, motivating appeals and credibility appeals. The success in changing an audience’s attitude or beliefs, and moving target groups to action, depends on many factors, including the four principles of persuasion (as cited in Bettinghaus & Cody, 1987; Littlejohn & Jabusch, 1987; Smith 1982). Other factors which come into play include the length of time an attitude has been formed, how it was formed (i. e., was it from second-hand information, or by direct experience? ).

Clearly, there are many factors which influence the way in which attitudes are formed and how strongly-held they are. Inoculation Theory in itself is interesting. It depends on: 1. issuing a warning, 2. mounting a weak attack, 3. presenting an active defence. Anti-smoking campaigns targeted at teenagers are an example of this. Most teens already know that smoking is harmful and that they should not start. Thus, they already have existing attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that are “correct.

” The problem is these attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors are not strong enough to keep all kids from starting smoking.

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Therefore, they have to be “inoculated”. This is done through TV ads, but also through the introduction of literature and video in health classes. But because everyone is different, attitudes will vary. It would be impossible to predict how each individual will react to a certain piece of information, so researchers (mostly advertising-based) have used groups to best narrow the field.

Today, research methods such as the VALS2 (Values and Lifestyle) technique for assessing and grouping target publics allows marketers to identify groups with what could be a collection of common beliefs/attitudes and/or lifestyle.

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The method certainly allows for message to be critically targeted. However, it would be illogical to suggest that each of these groups would react the same way to the Domino Theory, as each group would have different views and reactions on whatever message they were being given. The way they would process information would vary markedly.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs is an early model adopted by behavioural scientists to explain in the most general way why human beings behave as they do. As our basic needs for food and shelter are satisfied we move up the hierarchy to the peak of self-actualisation where, because we have everything we need, we get satisfaction from giving to society. Maslow argued that individuals are motivated depending on the extent to which their needs have been fulfilled. The theory was that messages should be targeted to groups according to the level to which their needs had been met.

The theory may only be relevant to Western cultures, however, as Eastern cultures, tend to place family (belonginess) on a different level. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs. Ref: Lecture, Kevin Smith, Week 3. Graphic: Greg Smith Personality trait tests recognise people’s differences and try to understand their particular traits, with some predictions made about their future. Personal Style indicators are used in marketing to help define target markets more closely than merely by income and place of residence.

Psychologists have put forward many other models. One with relevance is fear arousal, one of five “psychological appeals” put forward as persuasive tactics by DeVito (1991), who argues that “we are motivated in great part by a desire to avoid fear. We fear the loss of money, family, friends, love, health, job and just about everything we have and value. We also fear punishment, rejection and failure” (p410). Examples of fear tactics include anti-smoking and drink-driving campaigns. Politicians use fear tactics regularly, particularly during elections.

The Liberals played to our fear of being over-run by boat people; the Labor Party played to our fears over higher taxes with the GST. “Moderate amount of fear work best. With low levels the audience is not motivated sufficiently to act. With high levels they become too frightened and tune out” (DeVito, p410). Other psychological appeal factors put forward by DeVito include: power, control and influence; self-esteem and approval; achievement and financial gain. “Fear as an attitude and behavior change mechanism is a risky choice. Putting a student in fear of bad grades may motivate the student to work harder.

But it may also have the reverse effect of causing the student to give up in expectation of failure” (Curran and Takata, 2002). Minimal fear has been found to be the most effective. A study by Janis and Feshbach on getting students to follow dental hygene using different levels of fear persuasion showed that minimal fear appeal was the most effective (Severin and Tankard, 1992). Therefore it could be said that local road safety campaigns, including drink-driving and speed kills themes, have largely been unsuccessful due to the high fear factor.

But do attitudes have any actual relations to behaviour? Severin and Tankard (1992) sited a study made by social scientist Richard La Piere in the 1930s, in which he traveled the US with a Chinese couple. Nt of restaurOf the 251 visits they made to hotels and restaurant they were only refused service once. Yet when surveyed, more than 90 per cent of restaurants and hotels said they would not serve Chinese. The study shows that attitudes may not be a good way of predicting behaviour. This in itself points to a flaw in the Domino model.


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