Essays in persuasion summary


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How to Write a Persuasive Essay

For example, while the elderly person described above is likely to accept a businessman's positively valued source attempts to help her across the street, she is much less likely to accept the help of a homeless person negatively valued source. The primary symbol used in persuasion is language. Thus, language structure, independent of the message, is an important element of persuasion. At the most basic "phonological level," different sound combinations have been found to have differing effects on persuasion. Thus, independent of what the message says, the way it sounds can either aid or hinder persuasion though research on the effects of sound combinations on persuasion is still in its infancy.

On the "syntactic level" active structures are more persuasive than passive structures. Further, overly complex syntax tends to hinder comprehension and thus persuasive power. On the "lexical level" a rich and varied vocabulary increases perception of source credibility and thus persuasive power.

Further, language intensity has been found to be useful in inciting passion and thus persuasive power, but when indicating extreme positions, intense language has been seen to decrease source credibility and thus decrease persuasive power. Finally the clarity of language used effects persuasion. In general, when an argument is strong, clear wording is most appropriate, but when an argument is weak or its implications are unfavorable to the target audience, a vague argument is more effective.

Additional concerns for language structure include "powerful speech" and "varieties" or dialects. Powerful speech is essentially the way powerful people speak. This tends to include fewer hesitations, hedges and intensifiers extreme words than the speech of "weaker" individuals, and is more persuasive. Similarly, "standard" dialect, or the dialect of the stereotypically powerful, is more persuasive than a "substandard" dialect. In general, a powerful style of speech and a standard dialect are more persuasive, but sometimes contexts require either a dialect or speech style similar to the target audience.

While language is the dominant symbol system used in persuasion, it is not the only one. Kinetics refers to all aspects of body language, of which eye contact is by far the most influential. Eye contact can be used to demonstrate power by staring or can suggest intimacy by gazing. Proxemics refers to communication through the use of space. Spatial distance between people is suggestive of their relationship, and powerful people tend to take up more space. Messages communicated in mutually desired close quarters tend to be the most persuasive.

Haptics refers to touches. Touching can soften a relationship, or symbolize its power structure. In general, welcomed touching increases persuasiveness. Physical appearance and artifacts clothing and "accessories" affect persuasion. Attractive and well-dressed sources tend to be more persuasive though context may require specific appearance or accessories that are not attractive or expensive.

Chronemics refers to time management. The more power a person has, the more others are willing to wait.


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Such non-verbal symbols are used in conjunction with verbal symbols to communicate a message. Regardless of the content of the message, the structure of the symbols used to communicate it has an effect on persuasion. A successful advocate will be aware of the importance of message structure and will tailor it to their target. To effectively use evidence, three conditions must be met.

First the receiver must be aware of the evidence. Simply providing evidence does not mean the recipient recognizes it.

The Persuasive Essay

The easiest way to ensure evidence is recognized is to explicitly state that you are providing it. Second, a receiver must cognitively process the evidence. This means the evidence must be in a form that the receiver can understand.

Alcohol & Advil: The Female Persuasion and Look Alive Out There: Essays - Sarah's Book Shelves

For instance, discussing statistics is probably going to be ineffective when attempting to persuade a young child to do something. For adults, however, it has been found that a mix of narrative and statistical evidence is the most effective. Finally a receiver must deem the evidence to be legitimate. Biased sources and irrelevant information seem to be easy indicators of illegitimacy for most people. Interestingly though, it is difficult for many individuals to recognize evidence that is inconsistent with the argument.

Similarly, pragmatic implication has been shown to be difficult for many people to recognize. A pragmatic implication is one,which is neither explicitly stated nor logically implied. For example, the statement "The lion caught the gazelle. Thus, rational appeals are not necessarily objective and logical. They may contain faulty logic such as pragmatic implication , be based on faulty evidence, or simply be biased by emotions.

Emotions are " In addition to affecting the way a rational appeal is perceived, one's emotional state is incredibly powerful in aiding or hindering persuasion in its own right. Such emotional states can be either incidental to the persuasive message or can be invoked intentionally or not by the message. Emotional message appeals aim to intentionally evoke an emotion in an attempt to aid persuasion, while limiting unintentional emotional states.

It is thought there are five major components to emotions: cognitive appraisals of a situation, physiological arousal, motor expression, motivational components and a subjective feeling state. Identification of an emotion will depend on one's ability to recognize these components in an individual's behavior.

Proper identification of emotion is essential to determining any necessary counter emotional messages, as well as the effectiveness of emotional message appeals. To be effective, emotional message appeals must be crafted with knowledge of an emotion's "action tendency". Each discrete emotion is thought to affect action in a relatively predictable way. Thus a clever advocate can intentionally evoke emotions in others, which will likely affect their behavior in a "desirable" and predictable way.

In general "negative" emotions increase cognition of a message, while "positive" emotions decrease cognition. The action tendencies of negative emotions are generally proactive. For example anger's action tendency is to "strike back" and fears is to escape or avoid threat. Thus negative emotions can provide powerful motivation toward action by attracting attention to a message.

On the other hand, they also often incite impulsive reactions, and the attention they attract is not necessarily carefully thought out. Advocates must also beware of the potential for a backlash when inciting negative emotions. If the target of persuasion realizes she is intentionally be manipulated with negative emotional appeals, she is likely to be dissuaded rather than persuaded by a message. The action tendencies of these emotions are generally passive.

Alcohol & Advil: The Female Persuasion and Look Alive Out There: Essays

For example relief's action tendency is inaction and happiness's action tendency is to relax cognition. Thus positive emotions can render an individual "temporarily mindless. An effective advocate will be aware of the power of emotions and emotional appeals. As such, she will be able to identify the current emotional state of her target, as well as the desired emotional state with its corresponding action tendency.

She will use "positive" emotional appeals when she wants to lower the cognition of her target, and "negative" emotional appeals when she wants to increase cognition.

In doing so, however, she must be careful to make such attempts overtly obvious. If she fails to do so, targets of persuasion are likely to react negatively to both the source and the message. The content of an effective persuasive message will include both rational and emotional appeals. Rational appeals should use evidence to back up their assertions, and should take steps to ensure the targets of persuasion are aware of this evidence, think about it and deem it legitimate.

Emotional appeals should be used to help shape the perception of the persuasive message. When an advocate desires to lower cognition, positive appeals should be used, while negative appeals should be used when higher cognition is desired. Successful advocates will strive for a proper mix of rational and emotional appeals, structured and tailored to the process of persuasion. The magnitude of these reactions depends on perceived threats to "free behaviors," the proportion of "free behaviors" being violated and the magnitude of the threat the level of coercion used.

Reactance is thought to be high when threats are significant, deemed important, or numerous. Reactance is thought to be low when threats are insignificant, unimportant, exceedingly coercive, or few in number.


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  • Thus, advocates can reduce the likelihood of reaction three ways. First they can prevent perception of a threat to "free behaviors". This can be done by persuading in a way that is not perceived as persuasion. Or advocates can limit threats to "free behaviors" or their importance. This can be done by making it clear that the decision is ultimately the target's own to make. Finally, advocates can overcome message resistance through extreme coercion, which simply overrides the desire to react in opposition.

    10.1 The Purpose of Persuasion

    In addition to psychological reactance, a target of persuasion may reject a message due to intentional "inoculation. Doing so is thought to make an attitude resistant to persuasion. The inoculation process includes two components: threat and refutational pretreatments.

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