Social Psychology

Social Influence

Summary Social Influence

The Message

A message is the content of a piece of communication. Some messages are more persuasive than others:

  • Messages that provide both arguments and counterarguments for a position are more persuasive than one-sided messages.
  • Messages that arouse fear are likely to be persuasive if people think that rejecting the message will bring about a highly undesirable consequence and that accepting the message will prevent a highly undesirable consequence.

The Receiver

The target of a persuasive message is called a receiver. Certain factors influence the persuasiveness of a message for receivers:

  • If receivers are forewarned about a message, they are less likely to be persuaded by it.
  • Receivers are more likely to be persuaded by messages that are compatible with their own existing attitudes.
  • Receivers are less likely to be persuaded by messages that try to alter a strongly held attitude.

The Channel

The channel is the medium used to send the message. Newspapers, television, the Internet, radio, movies, direct mail, word of mouth, magazines, and billboard advertisements are just a few of the different media through which people might encounter a persuasive message. The medium can influence the persuasiveness of the message.

Example: An article in a newspaper about the dangers of a popular herbal supplement may be more persuasive than a website devoted to the same topic.

Means of Persuasion

Some effective means of persuading people include:

  • Repetition of the message
  • Endorsement of the message by an admired or attractive individual
  • Association of the message with a pleasant feeling

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