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Persuasive Communication

Psychology (Year 12) - Communication

Jessica Pratt

The term ‘persuasive communication’ refers to the act of attempting to change the beliefs, values, thoughts or behaviours of others. An individual or group must utilise the most appropriate and effective method to gain the listener’s attention as well as time the message well.

Cacioppo and Petty (1986) stated two modes of persuasive communication:

  • the central route involves thoughtful consideration of the message content by an active listener.

  • the alternate route, the peripheral route, utilises cues to gain the listener’s approval or disapproval.

Components of Persuasive Communication

There are three components of persuasive communication:

  • source of the message - it is suggested by Smith and Mackie (2000) that we are more likely to accept information from perceived experts in a field, where expertise is often attributed to fast-talkers and those who are likeable, trustworthy and similar to the audience.

  • audience characteristics - the content and communication style will often change based on the audience’s age, relationship to presenter, personality, education level and culture. In relation to this, different members of the audience may have a different level of cognition need:

    • a high cognition need leads to weighing up sides and being persuaded by a strong argument.

    • those with a low cognition need are likely swayed by perceived expertise and trust.

  • nature of the message - when the audience understands a message, the listener may be more easily persuaded, whereby printed messages are often understood more than television advertisements.

    • the nature may also include the emotional tone, often utilised in persuasion.

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