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Chapter 7

psy 320 chapter 7

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University of Toronto St. George
William Huggon

Chapter 7 MESSAGE FACTORSThe persuasive message is a key component of persuasion and a critical consideration for the communication practitionersUNDERSTANDING THE MESSAGEWhat you say and how you say it influences peopleMessage construct needs to be broken down decomposed and analyzed in terms of content and process3 types of message factors1Message Structurehow it is prepared and organizedMessage sidednessConclusion drawingOrder of presentation primary or recency Primacy occurs when an argument presented early in a message or the first of two opposing messages is most persuasive Recency occurs when an argument presented later in a message or the second of two opposing messages is most compelling There is no conclusive evidence in favour of either primacy or recency Effects depend on situational factors such as amount of time that elapses between messages and audience involvement2Message Contentits appeals and argumentsEvidence case histories fear guilt3Languagethe use of words and symbols to persuade an audienceSpeed of speech powerless vs powerful language intense language political languageMESSAGE STRUCTUREHow to package the message 2 issuesShould the communicator present both sides of the issue or just their own 1 and what is the most persuasive way to conclude the message 21One or Two SidesA onesided message presents one perspective on the issueA twosided communication offers arguments on behalf of both the persuaders position and the oppositionAnswer Refutational twosided messages are best Twosided messages influence attitudes more than onesided messages provided one very important condition is met the message refutes opposition argumentsWhen the communication mentions but does not destroy an opponents viewpoint the twosided message is actually less compelling than a onesided messageRefutational twosided messages gain their perspective and advantage by a enhancing the credibility of the speaker he or she is perceived as honest enough to discuss both sides and b providing cogent reasons why opposing arguments are wrong Sidedness research tells us that communicators can change attitudes when they are fair mention both sides and offer cogent arguments in support of their positionConclusion DrawingShould persuaders explicitly draw the conclusionDirect explicit vs Indirect implicit conclusion drawingAnswer OKeefe 1997 found that messages clearly or explicitly articulating an overall conclusion are more persuasive than those who omit a conclusionMaking the conclusion explicit minimizes the chances that people will be confused about where the communicator stands It also helps people comprehend the message which in turn enhances source evaluations and persuasion Cruz 1998Continuing IssuesContext and modality matter in message organizationIn politics communicators organize messages around negative arguments and voters expect politicians to run negative campaigns However trying this in an office group discussion will not workA message should be structured according to how it is delivered For example a message delivered interpersonally will have a different structure from an email or commercialEVIDENCEArguments are made better when evidence substantiates the claimsJohn C Reinard notes that evidence is a classic building block of arguments or information used as proofMcCroskey defines evidence as factual statements originating from a source other than the speaker objects not created by the speaker and opinions of persons other than the speaker that are offered in support of the speakers claims 1969 p170Evidence consists of factual assertions quantitative information like statistics eyewitness statements testimonials or opinions advanced by credible sourcesEvidence changes attitudesRodney A Reynolds and J Lynn Reynolds declared that the use of evidence produces more attitude change than the use of no evidence 2002 p 428Reinard also says that evidence appears to produce general persuasive effects that appear surprisingly stable 1988 p46Evidence is especially persuasive when attributed to a highly credible sourceEvidence is more apt to change attitudes the more plausible and novel it is MorleyWalker 1987Persuaders need to present the evidence but must also get the audience members to recognize that evidence has been offered in support of a proposition and perceive the evidence to be legitimateEvidence MUST be processedthe ELM reminds us that the ways in which evidence is elaborated determine its effect on persuasion People with high involvementknowledge about the issue will process evidence centrally Quality of the evidence matters However the best evidence is unlikely to change strong attitudes that touch on the selfconcept or core valuesPeople with low involvement in an issue rely on peripheral cues Evidence operates more as a cue than an argument when people arent motivated or knowledgeable about an issue Do not cite too much evidence either In ELM terms persuaders can use evidence as an argument rather than a cue thereby failing to connect with lowormodestinvolvement audience membersAlways use evidence in such a way that it enhances rather than reduces credibility Too much evidence can distract audience members away from the communicator or the messageThe other side of evidence the case of case historiesCase studies or narratives exert powerful effect on persuasion and attitudes
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