Persuation in Communication

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Persuasion Theory is a mass communication theory that deals with messages aimed at subtly changing the attitudes of receivers.

The concept of Persuasion has been developed between the 1940s and 1950s after studies aimed at defining the optimal persuasive effectiveness of Propaganda, being it political or an advertising campaign. Like the Hypodermic Needle Theory, it considered audiences passive although the scope of a campaign switched from manipulation into persuasion. Researches on Limited Effects of mass communication demonstrated that messages are successful only if they embed the same opinions of their receivers. Therefore, the focus of any campaign has to be on individual psychological factors.

Unlike the Hypodermic Needle Theory, Persuasion Theory considers the Stimulus-Response model as interposed by a filter: individual’s specificities, i.e. psychological characteristics of an individual. In this perspective, persuasive messages are thus able to activate an attitude change that can modify behaviors of consumers, voters and individuals in general.

According to Persuasion Theory, the communication process consists of a three phase model: Communication-Attitudes-Behavior. See also the communication process of: Limited Effects Theory and the Two-Step Flow Model. Unlike the Play Theory of Mass Communication, the concept underlying persuasion is that information is provided to influence receivers’ behaviors. Once they had developed the concept of persuasion, researchers on Persuasion Theory focused on the audiences and the content of messages.

Audiences in Persuasion Theory
4 psychological factors of audiences have been identified: An audience is interested in getting information. To reach a bigger audience (including those who seem to be not interested in certain information at that moment) the message has to be designed to capture people’s attention.

Selective exposure. People are more interested in a message if it supports the same opinions...
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