The communicators just provide the argument for them to do so (Perloff, 2008). Brock & Green (2005) state that there are different domains of persuasion. One of the domains is attitude. People have attitudes about just about anything, from a certain person, a social group, a policy decision, personal actions, abstract concepts, consumer products, health behaviors, etc. The attitudes that people have towards any given thing encompass a wide range of thoughts and feelings which change over time. Making things more complicated, according to Brock & Green (2005) is that a person might have a certain attitude about something, such as cheating, yet not act in accordance with that attitude - for instance, a student who professes to have an attitude that cheating is wrong might, nonetheless, cheat.
Therefore, attitudes do not always guide behavior. What does guide behavior, at least more than attitudes, according to Brock & Green (2005) are norms – people act how they are expected to act by others. Perhaps one way that persuasion works, then, at least according to Brock & Green (2005) is by the reduction of cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance occurs when one’s cognitions, for example one’s attitudes, are in conflict with one’s behavior. Or inconsistent with another attitude or cognition that the person has. Brock & Green (2005) use the example of Clyde Barrow, of Bonnie and Clyde fame – Barrow started out believing that the law was to be respected, then acted in ways that were dissonant from that by breaking the law. Therefore, his initial attitude – that the law should be respected - was replaced by new attitudes that criminality is not so bad after all.
Therefore, this is an example of somebody who is persuadable, because his actions were in conflict with his initial beliefs about obeying the law, and, since his actions were in conflict, it would be easy to persuade Barrow that committing crimes is not such a bad thing. Petty et al. (2004) state that a model of persuasion is something that is called the “elaboration likelihood model of persuasion” (ELM). What this model is based upon is the belief that certain variables may impact judgments, and the ELM is a theory about how different processes change attitudes and judgment strengths.
This theory is based upon a series of postulates. One postulate is that people have a need to have correct attitudes, and that these correct attitudes are subjective, as opposed to objective. The second postulate is that the amount of mental processing that a person uses when regarding a message is on a continuum, where, on one end, the person engages in no thought at all about the message to the other end, where there is an extensive elaboration of the information that is available (Petty et al. , 2004).
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