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Friday, July 15, 2011

Persuasion and Persuasion Process

Write brief on Persuasion – meaning, Theory, Importance and process ? 

Persuasion : 

Persuasion is the process of changing or reinforcing attitudes, beliefs or behaviour of a person. People respond to persuasive messages in two ways: thoughtfully and mindlessly. When we are in thoughtful mode, the persuasiveness of the message is determined by merits of the message. When we, respond to messages mindlessly, our brains are locked on automatic. We do not have the time, motivation or ability to listen intently. Typically, persuasion is largely dependent upon the attractiveness of the speakers and reaction of the listeners. Persuasion is solely related with communication, learning, awareness and thought.

Meaning of Persuasion :  

The notions of communication, learning, awareness and thought pervade definitions of persuasion. Bettinghaus defines persuasion as "a conscious attempt by one individual to change the attitudes, beliefs or the behaviour of another individual or group of individuals through the transmission of some message". This definition indicates that persuasion is assumed to involve conscious intent on the part of the persuader to affect the receiver of a persuasive message. It involves a selection of a strategy perceived to be most effective and the control of message and environmental variable so as to maximise the likelihood that the strategy will be effective. Much persuasive discourse is indirectly coercive, that is, the persuasive effectiveness of messages often heavily depends on the credibility of threats and the promises preferred by the communicator. For example, if the child perceives that the threatening parent is, for some reason or another, unlikely to suspend the child's allowance, the parent's persuasive messages will have minimum impact on the child's study habits. Persuasion is also valued as an instrument of democracy. The concept of persuasion has a clear and important focus in the field of marketing; McGuire states it simply as "changing people's attitudes and behaviour through the spoken and written words". 

Theory of Persuasion :  

The theories commonly used to predict persuasive effects are more explicit in their assumptions of the conscious activities of the receiver of a persuasive message. Tedeschi et al. describe the common assumptions of four consistency theories: balance, congruity, psycho-logic and cognitive dissonance. "These theories have in common the treatment of the individual as an internally active processor of information who sorts through and modifies a multitude of cognitive elements in an attempt to achieve some type of cognitive coherence".  

Even theories relying on mathematical formulations of persuasion process implicitly assume the conscious control of behaviour. Fishhein and Ajzen argue that persons' behavioural intentions can be predicted by a weighted combination of their attitude toward a behaviour and their perceptions of significant other expectations (subjective norm). In addition, the behavioural intentions are assumed to predict actual behaviour under most conditions.  

In providing a behavioural alternative to cognitive theories, Bern implies some degree of cognitive processing. In some cases, individuals are assumed to be aware of their own internal states, while in other situations they must consciously reflect upon external cues to determine their inner states.

While this review of a substantial body of literature is brief, the citations are representative of the trends in the study of persuasion. Both persuader and persuadee are assumed to be conscious and aware of their attitudes, beliefs and behaviours during the persuasion process.  

Importance (Power) of Persuasion : 

The power of persuasion, to begin with; is a functional model of powerfully effective, and persuasive communication. It does not matter what domain of skill a person has, this model will improve his or her ability to communicate effectively regardless of the context. Since we cannot separate out communication and persuasion, e.g. they are one and the same from the point that one cannot communicate with another person without at the same time influencing that person, it would be more respectful if the person knew exactly in what direction his or her influence was leading the other persons.  

There is more to learning a model than just the installation of the specific strategies used inside that model. There needs to be something that is designed to drive the strategies. There also needs to be an effective, accurate feedback system which is designed specifically for the purpose of knowing where you are in the process of any communication, and in which direction you need to go next. A more complete model will contain synergistic cooperation between all rep-systems, value systems, belief or pre-suppositional foundations. Here is a description of some of the pieces of this model:  

1) Attitude at the level of conviction

What is your attitude about life? about teaching? about success? Will your current attitude about power of communication support the rest of the model? 

2) Value system

What are the values out of you choose to operate? If you have a value system which is built upon a win/lose negotiation, then attempt to build in a presupposition which says that what the other person wants in this communication is important, the possibility will exist for some incongruency in the system. The more congruent the more effective system.  

3) Beliefs or Presuppositions

First we keep our eye on congruency between values and beliefs, then we look at whether the beliefs used in this model actually suppose the strategies/skill sets layered on top of them.

There is no substitute for congruence. Of all of the process that make up this persuasion model, congruence is the most important. Here are some possible presuppositions of this model.  

Process of Persuasion :  

In the process of persuasion both the persuader and the receiver of the persuasive message are consciously active. As Bettinghaus writes, "perception of a persuasive message is not a passive process. The receiver is as active in the receiving process as is the source in the transmitting process. The attitudes and beliefs of the receiver mediate the way in which the message will be received and responded to".

1.    People are inherently brilliant.
2.    People can learn to do anything they want to do easily.
3.    Rapport is a natural function of communication which is brought about by honoring the person with whom you are communicating.
4.   The goal is in finding out what the other person wants. Then in discovering how you can help that other person reach that goal.
5.   When selling a product, targetting people who are already interested in that product makes sense.
6.   There is no resistance, only feedback.
7.   Communicating effectively is not about being in control but rather about being able to recognise what you are, in fact eliciting with your communication, and having the flexibility to adjust accordingly.


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