PERSUASION, POLITICS AND COMMUNICATION
Our presentation deals with Persuasion, Politics, and Communication. It includes Scott's Components of Attitude; Fotheringham's Functions of Persuasion; Graber's Condensation Symbols; Theodore Newcomb's Model of Communicative Acts; Charles E. Osgood's Cognitive Dynamics including a Summary of cognitive dynamics theories; Osgood's Application to international relations; Festinger's Cognitive Dissonance; Fishbein's Attitude; Rokeach's Beliefs, Attitudes, and Values; and Sherif, Sherif, Nebergall's Social Judgment Theory.
Wallace C. Fotheringham's Basic Functions of Persuasion
Fotheringham mentions that Aristotle and later classical writers who were concerned with the persuasion part of a speech, list that there are 5 basic functions for persuasion. These functions are as follows:
1) Invention, finding and selecting the content for a speech.
2) Disposition, the arrangement of materials used.
3) Style, the linguistic stimuli used in the messages.
4) Memory, the retention and recall of materials.
5) Delivery, the auditory and visual attributes of speaking.
He feels that these functions were viewed as less applicable to other forms of persuasion. He also felt that they were developed as a result of viewing the persuader as an individual and not as an organization with members highly specialized in persuasive tasks. On the other hand Fatheringham mentions his basic functions of persuasion. They are as follows:
2) Selecting goals- He states that making decisions regarding specific actions to be sought from receivers.
3) Deciding what instrumental effects to seek in achieving goals- This involves the determination of what message effects are generative of desired actions.
4) Selecting, securing, and analyzing audiences- This involves decisions as to what receivers need to be persuaded or who is to receive the message.
5) Acquiring and originating message content- This involves mainly law firms who have to do tons of research.
6) Selecting messages- This is when there is a great deal of information, a selection is made with those of the greatest potential value to the persuasive effort.
7) Selecting and creating conditions to facilitate message effect- Those in charge with this is mainly concerned with adding a message context most likely to enhance the message effect.
8) Structuring message elements in a single effort or campaign- This is the arrangement of message elements. This task involves the entire persuasive effort.
9) Selecting media and forms of persuasion- He states that media selection is frequently being regulated by the message form.
10) Encoding messages- This involves the selection and arrangements of signs or billboards.
11) Transmitting messages- He states that the message must always be transmitted to receivers.
12) Securing and interpreting feedback- He says that you always need feedback in order to judge the success of the message. When feedback is not immediately available, they will hire people to do surveys to find out if the message was appropriately received.
13) Make ethical decisions- This function is very important while regarding ends and means. It also is a decision as to whether to make a controversial statement at the end of your presentation.
Graber's Condensation Symbols
To begin this journey through Graber's Condensation symbols we must find out what condensation symbols are. Graber (1976) states, "A condensation symbol is a name, word, phrase, or maxim which stirs vivid impressions involving the listener's most basic values." (P. 289). A maxim defined by Webster's dictionary is a brief statement of truth, general principle or rule of conduct.
The degree to the meaning of a condensation symbol or if it has any meaning at all depends upon the individual and the individual's interpretation of the condensation symbol. For example, if a couple was picking out a name for their unborn child, the mother may like the name Sally. The father on the other hand may dislike that name because he dated a girl named Sally and has negative connotations towards that name.
Graber notes that studies have shown similar stereotypes within countries. When Americans were asked to describe Russians, similar descriptions were given and vice versa.
Graber's main focus of condensation symbols lies within politics. He says, "Verbal condensation symbols are the most potent, versatile, and effective tools available to politicians for swaying mass publics." (Graber, 1976 p. 291) They create vivid pictures. The example Graber gives illustrates that if the word "pig" was shouted to a young, radical audience people would picture a mean looking policeman. It also creates images of batons/clubs being sowing at protesters. To a different audience, "pig" could refer to young juveniles assaulting a peace officer. With each different situation a new connotation is pictured.
Next Graber discusses what he calls the pied piper phenomenon. Social action is dependent on political leaders. For example the ability of the government to keep the countries alliance or political parties which include free enterprise, individual rights and welfare. This is all part of social action.
During the 20's and 30's republicans and democrats fought over the term liberal because of it's positive connotations in England. FDR used manipulation of the word liberal to gain power. "By associating his policies with a word such as 'liberal' instead of 'Democrat' a Republican could more easily justify his vote for FDR because he could mentally say to himself: 'I am for Roosevelt not because he is a Democrat but because he is a liberal." (Graber, 1976, p. 300). Because of his skill, he gained mass leadership among Americans. Symbols equal authority. The new deal symbolized FDR and Hoover was equated the new deal as False liberalism thus discriminating the term new deal.
Black Americans sought new condensation symbols. The movement was to change Negro to black power because Negro was associated with the condensation symbol of lazy and stupid. Black-power meant "freedom now." (Graber 1976, p. 301). MLK didn't like this new connotation. He felt it divided black from black and black from white. Graber states in King's eyes, "The words 'black' and 'power' together give the impression that we are talking about black domination rather than black equality." (P. 301). This was a negative connotation.
MLK , however, did use graphic connotations to his advantage. When he talked about black people in the South, he colored clear pictures. "Negroes with pangs of hunger and anguish of thirst were denied access to the average lunch counter."
Graber points out disadvantages of condensation symbols. They can give a false sense of security. They can distort reality. They can cause ambiguity and may display emotion-laden cues.
Condensation symbols widely use in politics serve as a function to sway audiences and conjure images when carefully planned out. Although negative connotations exist through every dark tunnel their is a light of hope. In this case, the light tunnel out shines its weaker dark tunnel (neg.).
Graber, D. (1976) Verbal behavior and politics. Chicago: University of Illinois press.
Theodore Newcomb's model of communicative acts
"The phenomena of getting aquatinted, like most others which one studies intimately for a period of years, are full of interesting surprises, and none of us is capable of anticipating all of them." Theodore Newcomb
Theodore Newcomb's interest lied in the general understanding of interpersonal relationships. To explore this further he reveals a concept he call orientation. Newcomb (1961) defines orientation as "a useful way of taking account of the fact of individuals' persistency's in relating themselves to things in their environment." (P. 4 ) He relates that an orientation is used synonymously with attitude. (How one acts toward a specific object).
Next Newcomb (1961) states, "The term orientation implies directness and selectivity." (P. 5). If you are oriented towards something he states you focus your attention on it instead of something else. Orientation is also characterized by it's intensity. (Short-tall, hot-cold) however, it displays cognitive properties as well. Newcomb illustrates this through a pair of parents. One parent could have pride and resemblance as a strong cognitive component while the other parent values personal response as the more cherished component.
Attraction is found in interpersonal relationships. (Person A is attracted to person B). Newcomb includes respect, admiration and dependence in his definition of attraction all associated with either a positive or a negative liking.
Orientation would not be complete without attitude. Person A's orientation to a non person object x is an attitude. What do attitude and attraction have to do with one another? In a relationship (attraction) where objects (X) exist, attitudes about these objects (X) formulate. Couples come up with attitudes about them (X).
To illustrate further Newcomb (1961) divides orientation into two systems - individual and collective. An individual system is complied of A's attraction to B, A's attitude toward X and B's attitude toward X perceive by A. (P. 8). A collective system is A and B's attitude towards each other, both A's and B's attitude toward X attributed both by A to B and B to A. (P. 8).
Newcomb, T. (1961) The acquaintance process . New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston Inc.
Leon Festinger's A THEORY OF COGNITIVE DISSONANCE
Note: References to Festinger's "Theory of Cognitive Dissonance" are taken from Festinger's work itself and/or they are taken from our text, Theories of Human Communication (Stephen Littlejohn, 1996; pages 141 - 143). The definitions listed immediately below are from WEBSTER'S II, NEW UNIVERSITY DICTIONARY. Leon Festinger, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1957).
Cognitive (see cognition)
Cognition: The mental faculty or process by which knowledge is acquired. Knowledge gained, as through perception, reasoning, or intuition.
Dissonance: Lack of agreement: conflict
Cognitive Dissonance: A condition of conflict resulting from inconsistency between one's beliefs and one's actions.
THE THEORY OF COGNITIVE DISSONANCE
Festinger says that any two cognitive elements, including attitudes, perceptions, knowledge, and behavior will have one of three kinds of relationships:
1. NULL OR IRRELEVANT C Two elements may have nothing to do with each other. Festinger suggests that knowing about slowly delivered mail from New York to Paris and knowing that a dry hot July is good for the corn crop in Iowa are two elements of cognition, but they are irrelevant to each other.
2. RELEVANT RELATIONS C Elements which exist in a person's cognition which are relevant to one another. Example: If a person knew there were only friends in his or her immediate vicinity and also felt afraid, there would be a dissonant relation between these two cognitive elements.
3. INCONSISTENT OR DISSONANTC If a person believed that man will reach Pluto (or the moon) in the near future and also believed that man will not be able to build a device that can leave the atmosphere of the earth, those two conditions are dissonant to one another.
Dissonance occurs when one element would not be expected to follow from another.
You are standing in the rain, but you are not getting wet. You think smoking is harmful to your health . . . but you smoke.
Two premisses govern dissonance theory. The first is that dissonance produces tension or stress that pressures the individual to change so that the dissonance is reduced. Second, when dissonance is present, the individual will not only attempt to reduce it, but will also avoid situations in which additional dissonance might be produced. The greater the dissonance, the greater the need to reduce it, i.e., the more you know about the dangers of smoking, the greater the pressure to stop smoking.
Dissonance is the result of two other variables: The importance of the cognitive elements and the number of elements involved in the dissonant relation. The more inconsistencies (if they are important to you) you will experience greater dissonance.
How do we deal with your cognitive dissonance? The presence of dissonance gives rise to pressures to reduce or eliminate the dissonance. The strength of the pressures to reduce the dissonance is a function of the magnitude of the dissonance.
1. You might change one or more of your cognitive elements, a behavior, or an attitude. It you are a smoker, stop!
2. New elements might be added to one side of the tension or the other. The smoker might seek new data to support his addiction. You may read material which suggests that negative information was improperly researched. You might check death rates from other activities including driving and perhaps flying. You reduce the dissonance by reducing the importance of the exiting dissonance.
3. You might see the elements as less important than they used to be. The smoker may see that driving a car or flying is more dangerous than smoking. Dissonance is reduced.
4. You might seek consonant information (such as the benefits of smoking). Is appetite suppression enough?
5. You might try distorting or misrepresenting the information involved. Yes, smoking is bad, but only if you do it while sitting on the rear bumper of a diesel bus near the exhaust pipe. If you didn't smoke, you'd only do something worse.
No matter which of these you employed, it would reduce your dissonance, and you would feel better about your attitudes, beliefs, and actions.
Situations where dissonance is likely to take place: 1) Decision making. 2) Forced compliance. 3) Initiation. 4) Social support.
Muzafer Sherif's Social Judgment Theory
Social judgment theory was the work of Muzafer Sherif and his associates. Social judgment theory deals with the way people make judgments about statements. Sherif did a study on early psychophysical research in which persons ere tested on their ability to judge physical stimuli. While he was studying this, he was doing another study on the way individuals judge messages. He learned that many principles of psychophysics hold true for social judgment theory as well.
Sherif's research shows that people make judgments on the basis of anchors or reference points. A reference point is information that is presented to you that is perceived to be correct information about something.
Sherif performed a social judgment experiment. In this experiment he gave a large number of statements to an individual. He then asked them to sort them into groups according to similarity of position. Then he asked them to put them into positive or negative groups. These groups were latitude of acceptance, rejection, and non-commitment. Acceptance are statements that you agree with. Rejection is statements that you disagree with, and non-commitment are statements that you can't decide on.
He states that latitudes of acceptance and rejection are influenced by ego-involvement. This is the degree of personal relevance of an issue or the degree to which one ís attitude toward something that affects the self concept. Ego-involvement makes a great deal of difference in how you respond to messages related to topics.
What does social judgment say about communication? We know from Sherif's work that individuals judge the favorability of a message based on their own internal ego-involvement. Social judgment theory also may involve distortion. Distortion has two parts to it. They are:
Contrast effect- this occurs when individuals judge a message to be further from their own point of view.
Assimilation effect- this occurs when individuals judge a message to be closer to their own point of view.
Attitude change is another area in which social judgment aids our understanding of communication. Social judgment theory makes the following predictions about attitude changes. They are:
1) Messages falling within the latitude of acceptance facilitate attitude change. What this means is an argument in favor of a position within the range of acceptance will be somewhat more persuasive than the argument outside the change.
2) If a message is judged by the person to lie within the latitude of rejection, attitude change will be reduced or non-existent.
3) Within the latitude of acceptance and non-commitment, the more discrepant the message from the persons own stand, the greater the expected attitude change.
4) Highly ego-involved people are hard to persuade. They tend to reject a wider range of statements.
Sales people call dissonance after buying something, "Buyer's Remorse." Sales people, properly trained, do all they can to avoid this phenomenon. Countless sales managers have been heard to scream that the item was returned because the salesperson didn't Asell@ the product, but sold money ("How much would it take for you to buy this car today?"). Then, when the buyer loves the product because of the merits of the product and not that it is some kind of a bargain, dissonance (buyer's remorse) is reduced and they return fewer products.
Four variables to consider: 1) Importance of the decision. 2) Attractiveness of the chosen alternative. 3) The greater the perceived attractiveness of the un-chosen alternative, the more the felt dissonance. 4) The greater degree of similarity between the alternatives, the less the dissonance.
Festinger concludes "that dissonance is not anything which exists all by itself. It is a characterization of a relationship between cognitive elements. Thus, determining whether or not dissonance exists should take the form of first specifying the cognitive elements, or clusters, which are under consideration and then examining whether, considering either one alone, the obverse of the other follows. If it seems plausible to assert that the relation is dissonant, it is usually also helpful to specify on what grounds (logical, experiential, cultural, or otherwise) the "follows from" holds in that instance. It is also clearly necessary to be able to specify what specific changes in cognition, or what new cognitive changes in cognition, or what new cognitive elements, would reduce the magnitude of the dissonance thus determined."
"Propaganda is the use of facts, ideas, or allegations which are distorted, slanted, incomplete, or otherwise misleading." (Fletcher 185) Propaganda can be used to either support a specific viewpoint or to attack a viewpoint. Propaganda is very difficult to spot, sometimes you can become a victim without even knowing it. I will discuss eight techniques of propaganda and how they are used to mislead you, and I will also provide a example of each.
Card Stacking - Card stacking occurs when statistics are presented unfairly.
"It is the manipulation and juggling of figures so that an unfair, misleading, dishonest, or incomplete picture is presented." (Fletcher 188)
* The average business with a staff of only ten has a average salary per worker of $65,000 per year.
Testimony - Testimony occurs when a person who is quoted about a particular issue had a very biased opinion. They could also be a part of the group itself.
* People need to eat chicken in order to survive. (Quoted from Jerry Rice KFC owner)
Transfer - This technique compares two ideas or principals that are not truly comparable or are just a little bit comparable.
* In our economy , the importance of many bars is the same as the importance of many zoos.
Glittering Generality - In this technique vague and indefinite features are used to describe in attractive and desirable terms.
* Kentucky fried Chicken offers the most perfect chicken sandwich. All the business man of Fresno say so.
Flag Waving - In this propaganda technique an unfair or undeserved appeal to patriotism made.
* More places like KFC is what our country needs, and what all good American stand for.
Plain Folks - This propaganda technique appeals to the typical and average individual.
* The great little men of America - the students, the farmers , the fathers and mothers - buy there chicken at KFC.
Bandwagon - This technique aims to convince you that everyone is doing it so why arent you.
* All your friends eat KFC.
Name Calling - In this propaganda technique those who do not accept the ideas are referred to insulting terms.
* Those who do not eat at KFC are lame.
They are eight types of propaganda. Hopefully you have become aware of some of the techniques so that you will not be taken in by them.
Fletcher, Leon . HowTo Design and Deliver a Speech, fourth ed. Harper and Row Pub. New York 1990