Persuasion: definition and elements of the art of persuasion

Since the dawn of time, human beings have tried to achieve their goals in the most optimal way possible by creating long term plans and strategies for it. However, as social beings that we are, in many cases our goals are for others to act or think in a certain way.

While in some cases the goals of others coincide with our own, it is common to find that this is not usually the case, with incompatibility of goals and conflicts that make it difficult to achieve our goals. How to solve this problem? One of the methods used for this is to try to change the behavior, affection or opinion of others in a way that promotes one’s own interests. In other words, use persuasion.

    What is persuasion?

    We understand by persuasion as the process by which messages are used which have arguments that support them, in order to change a person’s attitude, causing them to do, create or think things they would not do. originally would create or opine.

    According to McGuire, this process of change depends mainly on the existence of the probability of receiving the message, That is, if the receiver of it has the capacity to take care and understand the message that one wants to give it, and acceptance on the part of the receiver of it.

    This acceptance will depend mainly on how the message is processed, as well as on the level of involvement and familiarity we have with the topic that we get to try. So someone who places great importance on the topic being discussed and feels challenged to pay close attention to the content of the message and critically assess it, while someone who does not view the topic as critical. a relevant treatise will be less inclined to simply start analyzing the content of the message may not be as analyzed, although it may be persuaded by elements external to the message itself.

    For example, if someone tells us that this same text was reviewed in a topic next week, students who have the topic in question will be highly motivated to believe it, while others will hardly change the topic.

    Persuasion is not based on slogans

    Of course, keep in mind that the persuasion process is not simple: that is, for one person to tell another that they need to exercise more or use product X with a convincing technique it does not mean that the latter will obey. Some of the things that make it difficult to achieve real change are making weak arguments that the receiver can counter by reinforcing their initial point of view.

    Additionally, believing that they want to manipulate us through deception or simplistic proclamations makes the persuasion process more difficult, causing resistance and even action contrary to what was supposed to feel under attack on our personal freedom. This phenomenon is called reactance.

    Key elements of persuasion

    To better understand the process by which one person or medium can influence another by changing their mind, it is necessary to take into account what are the key elements of the process, these are the sending source, the receiver, the message itself and the technique used to transmit it..

    1. Issuer

    As to who is conveying the information, which source is trying to persuade, there are two characteristics that are taken into account when we are or are not persuaded: its attractiveness and credibility. It has been shown in multiple experiments that we generally consider the individuals we perceive to be more attractive to be more reliable (partly because of the halo effect, in which we assume that a good quality person will surely have some. others). This is one of the reasons why physically attractive men and women, or well-liked celebrities, frequently appear in advertising in order to sell us a product.

    However, the most influential characteristic of the source when persuading is credibility, Which is given the level of competence of the source in the subject in question and the perceived sincerity.

    Let’s look at this with a simple example. We are told that in ten years Comet Halley will crash into Earth. If the person telling us is someone we meet on the street, we probably won’t change the way we act, but if the person telling us is a NASA expert, they are more likely to increase. worry about it. Another example would again be found in the use of celebrities to advertise products in advertising pieces. In this case, most celebrities not only tend to look attractive, but are also associated with a good level of credibility based on their public image.

    2. Receiver

    As for the recipient of the message, the main characteristics that influence when to be influenced are level of intelligence, self-esteem and level of involvement with the subject.

    It should be noted that the effect of intelligence level should not be taken as a direct measure. It is not that whoever is more influential has less intelligence, but whoever is more intelligent will have more resources to challenge arguments put forward by persuasion. By having a greater ability to learn and use information stored in real time, the smartest people’s way of dialogue is more fluid and consistent, which is reflected in the results they get when it comes to to convince.

    When it comes to self-esteem, we generally find that the lower our self-esteem, the less likely we are to view our own arguments as valid, and the more likely we are to accept those of others.

    3. Message

    Another key element in persuading someone is the message itself. Several studies indicate that using a more rational or more emotional message will depend on the type of response you want to encourage. It also affects the message to incorporate elements that cause fear or a sense of threat: according to Rogers’ theory of protective motivation, we will tend to seek out and consider more of some of the messages that allow us to minimize or minimize. avoid damage.

    The fact that persuasion occurs more often with a closed or open message has also been investigated, indicating that it is generally best to leave a conclusion open for interpretation, albeit guided in the direction from which one wishes to persuade. . Maybe it’s because of this way listeners are more satisfied when they come to these conclusions, Which they experience as if it were a discovery made by themselves, without anyone trying to impose an idea on them from the outside.

    Finally, it was discussed whether to indicate only the arguments that favor one’s own position or should also indicate the arguments of the opposite position. In this regard, it has been suggested that it is more convincing to show both positions, otherwise it is more noticeable that the intention of the message is to create publicity or propaganda rather than to provide data to rationally decide , and it ends up causing a reaction.

    One way to influence others

    As we have seen, part of persuasion is about detecting those “cracks” in a person’s psychological defenses that can be influenced and making it easier to convince them to make a decision. Of course, this process should not give the impression that the person you are trying to convince will lose or give in to the person who convinces you, because the mere fact of experiencing an exchange of ideas seen from this perspective generates resistance that is difficult to overcome. . .

    Therefore, persuasion he does not act out of rationality, but through heuristics and mental shortcuts In general. Persuaded people hardly realize this, as in many cases they believe they are acting purely on the basis of their rationality.

    It is why these strategies are so widely used; they allow a person to choose a certain option without noticing the presence of a persuasive plan.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Cialdini, R. (1983, 1984). Affecting. The psychology of persuasion. Revised edition. HarperCollins.
    • McGuire, WJ (1969). A model for processing information on the effectiveness of advertising. In HL Davis & AJ Silk (Eds.), Behavioral and Management Sciences in Marketing. New York: Ronald.
    • Rivas, M. and López, M. (2012). Social and organizational psychology. CEDE PIR preparation manual, 11. CEDE. Madrid.
    • Rogers, RW (1985). Attitude change and integration of information into attractions out of fear. Psychological Reports, 56, 179-182.

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