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central route to persuasion

occurs when interested people focus on the arguments and respond with favorable thoughts

peripheral route to persuasion

occurs when people are influenced by incidental cues, such as a speaker's attractiveness

central vs. peripheral route

central occurs more with people who are naturally analytical or who are involved with the issue; peripheral occurs more when the issue doesn't engage systematic thinking and people can use heuristics or incidental cues to make quick decisions. The central route tends to be more durable and more likely to influence behavior.

The Communicator

credibility and attractiveness influence a speaker's persuasiveness


believability. A credible communicator is perceived as both expert and trustworthy. Perceived expertise can come from being introduced as knowledgeable on a topic or can come from speaking confidently. Perceived trustworthiness can come from eye contact, from not being perceived as trying to be persuasive, from arguing against one's own self-interest, and from talking quickly.

sleeper effect

a delayed impact of a message that occurs when an initially discounted message becomes effective, as we remember the message but forget the reason for discounting it.


having qualities that appeal to an audience. An appealing communicator (often someone similar to the audience) is most persuasive on matters of subjective preference.

The Message Content

reason vs. emotion, one-sided vs. two-sided, and primacy vs. recency

Reason vs. Emotion

depends on the audience. Rational appeals are more effective with well-educated or analytical people because they take the central route. Emotion and connection to the speaker will sway uninterested audiences more, via the peripheral route.

The effect of good feelings

Unhappy people are less easily swayed by weak arguments, and messages are more persuasive when associated with good feelings.

The effect of arousing fear

Arouse a decent amount of fear, but provide a feasible solution

One-sided vs. Two-sided arguments

IF the audience will be exposed to opposing views or will clearly think of them themselves, offer a two-sided appeal and rebuff the other view

Primacy vs. Recency

When two messages are back-to-back and followed by a time gap before a decision, primacy takes over and the first message is more persuasive. When time separates the two messages and a decision is made shortly after the second one, recency takes over an the second message is favored.

primacy effect

other things being equal, information presented first usually has the most influence

recency effect

information presented last sometimes has the most influence. Recency effects are less common than primacy effects.

The Channel of Communication

the way the message is delivered - whether face-to-face, in writing, on film, or in some other way

the effect of repetition

Repetition can make a statement seem more true (e.g. generic vs. advertised asprin, studies showing that saying something makes it remembered as true)

two-step flow of communication

the process by which media influence often occurs through opinion leaders, who in turn influence others

effectiveness of media

Messages are best comprehended & recalled when written; the more lifelike the medium the more persuasive. Easy messages should come from lifelike sources like video, but hard messages should come from easy to comprehend sources like writing

The Audience

audience traits such as age influence how they are persuaded. E.g. younger people are more flexible in their attitudes.


Can come up with counterarguments


disarms counterarguments (e.g. political ads keep our brains busy with images; ads in highly sexual or violent shows are very ineffective)

need for cognition

the motivation to think and analyze. Assessed by agreement with items such as "the notion of thinking abstractly is appealing to me" and disagreement with items such as "I only think as hard as I have to"

Audience involvement

Stimulating thinking makes strong messages more persuasive and weak messages less persuasive. Can do this via rhetorical questions, multiple speakers, repetition, etc.


A group typically characterized by (1) distinctive ritual and beliefs related to its devotion to a god or a person, (2) isolation from the surrounding "evil" culture, and (3) a charismatic leader.

Extreme persuasion - how do cults indoctrinate?

behavior --> attitude; compliance breeds acceptance; foot-in-the-door; effective communicators; vivid and emotional messages; young or vulnerable targets; group influence

Resisting persuasion

making public commitments to one's beliefs, mildly challenge beliefs, develop counterarguments

attitude inoculation

exposing people to weak attacks upon their attitudes so that when stronger attacks come, they will have refutations available (e.g. inoculating kids in schools with anti-smoking messages was effective)

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