Read an article and write a persuasive reflection paper.
Must be familiar with Source (Communicator) Factors I
Each reading reflection must include three components (organized in three separate paragraphs):
A description of at least three key concepts, ideas, and/or insights in the readings;
Your thoughts about their relevance or implications regarding the potential of persuasion to influence people’s attitudes or behavior (you can simply give an example or two of how these ideas or principles work, or not, in reality); and
A question you have about the topic that was not answered satisfactorily in the readings (i.e., “I’d be curious to know” type of question) or a concept that you did not fully grasp and for which you’d like further clarification.
[student name removed]
Rhodes’ (2012) chapter on “Outcomes of Persuasion: Behavioral, Cognitive, and Social”
discusses the roles of behavior, attitudes, and norms in the persuasive process. Changes in
behavior are the keys to understanding the effectiveness of persuasive messages. However, they
are difficult to measure directly. One approach to address this problem is to look to proxiessuch
as aggregated behavior, behavioral intention, behavioral willingness, and self-report.
Meanwhile, another approach is to totally bypass behavior measurement and instead study
persuasion’s effect on attitudes and norms by analyzing accessibility and performing explicit or
implicit tests. Research shows that attitudes and norms that are more accessible will more greatly
influence how people perceive and understand social situations, and in turn, how they behave in
those situations– especially when spontaneous decision making is at play. The reason being,
according to Fazio’s process model, is that when people are not highly motivated and do not
have sufficient opportunity to carefully consider all of the available information, they will look
to attitudes and norms that are quickly activated in their minds. Hence, accessibility canbe
measured by testing reaction times. Furthermore, research demonstrates that implicit attitude
measures are mostly predictive of deliberative behaviors, while explicit attitude measures are
more likely to predict spontaneous behaviors.
Overall, understanding how to measure the different outcomes of persuasion is useful in
informing persuaders of how to better assess the effectiveness of their persuasive messages
depending on their goals. That way, if they find that they are successful, they can continue doing
what they’re doing. Or, if they find that they are lacking in a particular area, they can know to
pivot and use a different approach. For example, if the goal of the persuasive message is to
encourage individuals to floss their teeth at least once a day, and everyday routines are likely to
involve spontaneous rather than deliberative decisions, it would be best to use implicit
measures of attitudes or test reaction times to measure success. Ultimately, as a person is
exposed to persuasive information about flossing, the accessibility of their attitudes and norms
and any resulting behavior are not only outcomes for each encounter, but also serve as inputs
the next time that persuasive information comes up again in their environment. It’s a
never-ending cycle of exposure, attention, action, and reinforcement.
Rhodes mentions that the influence of norms has only been explicitly tested in Fazio’s
process model. How might we go about implicitly testing norms? What implications might
thishave for understanding the different outcomes/inputs of persuasion? Also, I’d be curious
to know how persuaders factor norms and attitudes into their audience analysis.
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