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MBA V (REG) 2009-MBA-004

Persuasion: What the Research Tells Us


This article stresses that the audience, persuader’s credibility, his purpose, and the context of the
communication should be considered to form an effective communication strategy. The findings
and implications that follow are organized under audience involvement, audience bias,
credibility, context and other persuasive technique. According to this article Audience
involvement refers to the audience’s level of interest in and concern about the specific issue
being considered and it varies with situation.

Highly involved audiences are more likely to be affected by the central arguments of a
persuasive communication, rather than by peripheral issues such as the credibility of the
persuader. Less involved audiences, on the other hand, are more affected by credibility and
context. Therefore, when your audience is highly involved, concentrate on building a good
logical argument. When your audience is less involved, however, you should give added
prominence to peripheral issues related to credibility and organizational context. Less involved
audiences are more likely to change their beliefs or attitudes towards an issue as a result of
persuasion, but these changes tend to be short term therefore the persuader should try to
consolidate the change by using the “foot-in-the-door” technique In contrast, highly involved
audiences are less likely to undergo short term changes in attitude and are more strongly
anchored in their pre-existing attitudes but when changed then it lasts longer. Highly involved
audiences are likely to move less far from their initial attitude in a given persuasive attempt than
are less involved audiences. An individual’s level of involvement in an issue is increased when
he or she commits to some position publicly by act or statement. Allow audience to accept a
small pilot program first then making the whole program favorable.

Bias refers to the audience’s initial position in regard to the persuader’s position. The bias can be
negative, positive, or neutral. A negatively biased audience responds more favorably to a two-
sided argument therefore it is necessary that the persuader understand the reason for the negative
audience’s bias and address it. While With neutral and positively biased audiences, one-sided
arguments are slightly more effective initially and to create a long-lasting change neutral/positive
audience should be inoculated.

The persuader’s credibility with a given frequently affects the success or failure of arguments.
The persuader can establish credibility with the low involved audience by mentioning rank or
status, goodwill, expertise, image or identification, and morality or. A more credible source is
likely to engender more change in attitude in the short term, but the credibility effect tends to
fade away in the long term. Therefore, persuader should act immediately on credibility-based
change to consolidate gain and choose direct structure if his/her credibility is high. In general
people are strongly influenced by the beliefs and actions of those around them. Uncritical
acceptance of some opinion or action because everyone else has accepted it can lead to bad
decisions so, harness the bandwagon effect when appropriate. Persuaders who initially express
opinions held in common with their audience will be more likely to change their audience’s

MBA V (REG) 2009-MBA-004

opinion on other issues. If the audience is convinced and the changes in the behavior is made, as
this change is generally transitory therefore they should be reinforced by repetition or by
audience action for long lasting effect.
This article has addressed the persuasion techniques regarding audience bais, involvement and
credibility of persuader. All these aspects are important while devising a persuasive message, but
there are certain other things which should be considered as well. The article talks about the
audience involvement but the level of involvement is not known unless and until you know your
audience very well. This is the most important when the aim is to persuade and not to inform.
Knowing your listeners helps you to shape your message in a way that's most likely to gain their
acceptance. Persuader should know the number of factors that can affect that how your listeners
will react. These include their experience, education, job or professional background, age,
gender, ethnic background, cultural differences, and more. The persuader should address the
listeners at the level of their existing knowledge. Rational appeals (using facts and figures) must
be used when effective when the audience is well educated.

The article provides that the less involved audience should be offered the short pilot programms
first. Making the audience take even the pilot program is difficult. For this the persuader should
provide an understanding attitude, a friendly atmosphere and compelling evidence. Make sure all
his claims are true and verifiable. He should provide solutions to meet the needs of others as it is
probably one of the most effective ways to persuade others because people are formatively
concerned with their own well-being before others. He should provide an expert mind-set. i.e.
he/she should understand what they are presenting to their audience. Be confident. Do the
necessary homework so that you have answers to questions that may arise.

When the persuader is well prepared and considers his audience and follows all the mentioned
techniques then the effective communication can take place and the audience will be persuaded
and it will be easy to reinforce and change their attitude.