NYU Communications Decisions and Desire Discussion

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Item 4
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.
Xiaoyu Ren
Item 16
​O’Keefe’s (2016) chapter on the Communicator Factor mainly discusses the two essential
communicator factors: credibility and likability. Credibility is used to identify the nature of
communication, factors that influence judgment, and other characteristics of the communicator
that influence the persuasion outcome. In order to understand the characteristics of a
communicator, the dimensions of credibility must be identified. Credibility consists of the
believability of a communicator. Therefore, a communicator’s credibility is not an intrinsic
property because a message source might be seen as credible by one perceiver and can be seen
differently by another. In addition, likability is an aspect on which a perceiver likes the
communicator. Research indicates that there are two dimensions of credibility: expertise and
trustworthiness. The expertise factor is used to measure whether the communicator is in a
position to tell the truth, or differentiate what is right or wrong. Trustworthiness is what the
communicator will use to decide on whether to speak up on the truth as they see it. Therefore,
this indicates that both expertise and trustworthiness should measure a communicator’s
credibility because only the conjunction of expertise and trustworthiness makes communication
Overall, various factors influence credibility like credentials, education, experience, and
speech characteristics. If a communicator has a conflicting position, credibility rises. Likeability
is what influences trustworthiness and not expertise. Through the credibility of the
communicator, persuasion is impacted. Credibility impacts persuasive effects through the
identification’s timing, which minimizes the effects of after message. Also, personal relevance
leads to fewer impacts of credibility and persuasion in the long run. In essence, possible
dimensions of similarity-dissimilarity influence persuasive effects not directly but through liking
Xiaoyu Ren
and credibility. For example, we like people similar to us, like those who enjoy the same hobbies
or have comparable personalities. When a study is being conducted, and a person finds that
someone else has the same opinion on many issues, the participant will be more likely to comply
with the request being made. If similar opinions are highlighted, a bond is created that produces
more significant influence in persuasion.
The chapter indicates that a message recipient might perceive two types of
communication bias: knowledge bias and reporting bias. I would be curious if a recipient
believes that a communicator’s knowledge about reality is not valid. Can we trust what we hear
from an expert? Can an old and experienced professor present a powerful argument supporting
social media? When does reality compromise communication?

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