Guide Persuasion

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He quite fired up in defence of it, insisting that it was the most beautiful of her works.

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In fact, I feel like I have already seen it all. You sit about in morning rooms with the characters. I imagine myself clumping into that morning room, dressed as I am while writing this: cargo shorts and a tattered old band T-shirt. Faced with such distance, the temptation is to try to reel Jane back in to our own time. Yes, my first instinct was to dismiss Morton. What could be more absurd than high-kicking ass-whupping Bennets? The violence being expulsion from the gentry.

At any moment, you can find that your ass is out.

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Any moment. It applies to everyone, but in particular women. Few books have made me feel more tense than Persuasion. I could feel my stomach knotting as I read, not just at the frisson between Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth, but the precariousness of their society.


All the concerns in the novel — over position, appearance, doing and saying the right thing — are a constant balancing act, on a tightrope with a long fall. The approach stresses attention and comprehension.

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While learning and perceptual theorists may stress objective intellectual steps involved in the process of being persuaded, functional theorists emphasize more subjective motivational aspects. According to this view, humans are essentially ego-defensive—that is, human activities and beliefs function to satisfy conscious and unconscious personal needs that may have little to do with the objects toward which those attitudes and actions are directed.

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The functional approach would theorize, for example, that ethnic prejudice and other forms of social hostility derive more from individual personality structure than from information about the nature of the social groups. Other theories view the person confronted with persuasive communication as being in the vexing role of finding some reasonable compromise among many conflicting forces —e. Those who stress this conflict-resolution model frequently called congruity, balance, consistency, or dissonance theorists focus on how people weigh these forces in adjusting their attitudes.

Some theorists who take this point of departure stress the intellectual aspects of persuasion, while others emphasize emotional considerations. An extension of the conflict-resolution model is the elaboration-likelihood model ELM of persuasion, put forth in by American psychologists John Cacioppo and Richard Petty. The ELM emphasizes the cognitive processing with which people react to persuasive communications.

According to this model, if people react to a persuasive communication by reflecting on the content of the message and its supporting arguments, the subsequent attitude change is likely to be more firmly established and more resistant to counterpersuasion. On the other hand, if people react to a persuasive communication with relatively little such reflection, the subsequent attitude change is likely to be ephemeral.

Psychology of Persuasion and Social Influence

Each of the approaches considered above tends to neglect one or more steps in the process of being persuaded and thus serves to supplement rather than supplant the others. A more eclectic and inclusive approach, growing out of information-processing theory, is oriented toward a consideration of all the options implied by the communication aspects of source, message, channel or medium , receiver, and destination behaviour to be influenced ; each option is appraised for its persuasive efficacy in terms of presentation, attention, comprehension, yielding, retention, and overt behaviour.

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Thank you for your feedback. See Article History. Start your free trial today for unlimited access to Britannica. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. In advising orators on how to exploit the moods of their audience, Aristotle undertakes a systematic and often insightful treatment of human emotion, dealing in turn with anger, hatred, fear, shame, pity, indignation, envy, and jealousy—in each case offering a definition of the emotion…. And in the classical democracy of Athens, it was commonly observed that everything depended on the people, and the people were dependent on the word.

Wealth, fame, and respect—all could be given or taken away by persuading the populace.