Theories of Persuasion Pt 2


In grad school, I studied Attitude Theory under Dr. Hamilton at Pittsburg State University‘s Communication Department. Below is the second part of my response to a final question about persuasion and human attitude theory.

Click here to read Part One


Let’s return to the persuasion techniques suggested by the literature. First, consider rational arguments. By appealing to the rational mind of the reader, the editor is able to suggest reasons for thinking a certain way and therefore argue why the reader should accept the new viewpoint or take a suggested action. Secondly, consider assertiveness. Using an assertive approach, the editor can tell the readers why they need to take on the new mindset or action. Often this assertive approach uses fear or dislike within the reader to bolster the arguments.

For example: An editor writing against a proposed nuclear power plant in the area could use assertive statements like, “The threat of nuclear contamination would be playing in our own backyards.” This statement could prey upon fears the reader may already be experiencing. However, for the highly involved readers who think this would not be a threat or have been convinced that the plant is highly beneficial for economic reasons, such arguments could cause them to swing to the rational argument that the assertive fear-inducing argument of the editor is simply not reasonable. Therefore, they might conclude, the editor himself is not a credible source for information.

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