Persuasion is a powerful tool that influences our attitude toward a particular event. The power of persuasion is excellent because it brings out human possibilities, unfortunately not always benevolent ones. Persuasion as a phenomenon is an integral part of our lives because it has a skillful effect on us, even if we do not notice it. It takes no small amount of solid personal qualities to persuade a person of anything, to carry his thought or idea with confidence.
The persuasion goals vary depending on how much the person is interested in spreading the information. If the goal is to change previous behavior, then intuitive ways of processing new concepts are required. However, if people have no interest in processing the new idea, how can they be persuaded? A great example is the way people shop-the signals of the external environment unobtrusively convince them of the usefulness of an item. Remember when you were on your way to buy spaghetti cheese, but a stylized vineyard caught your eye? There you are at the checkout with a bottle of sparkling wine. This has happened to me a couple of times, and if before I was convinced that persuasive marketing didn’t work on me, now there is no doubt.
Persuasion happens because it contains elements that make the speech confident and truthful. We trust the politician’s credibility and appeal because the style of the address and the openness of the speech assure us of the integrity of his opinion (Myers & Twenge, 2019). The audience enjoys absorbing new information because they see a commitment to the cause. And the repetition of data and its frequent flickering in front of their eyes contributes to a positive attitude toward an issue. It seems that convincing is relatively easy if you know how and to whom to convey information, but I always lack firmness in my speech to do so. I am sure I am right when I talk about it, but my inability to quickly pull out an argument makes my address unconvincing.
Resistance to persuasive advertising or other sources of knowledge is possible if one takes a critical approach to the information being broadcast. Being able to approach an issue consciously builds a person’s resilience and ability to find counterarguments against persuasion. While this works great with adults, and people are more likely to evaluate information critically, it is more difficult with children. Younger groups take information from advertising and peers or older groups more quickly, which leads to some not-so-pleasant consequences. I remember this on myself; in the middle of 6th grade, I saw some older guys encouraging me to try smoking. Their authority was strong, their tone of voice persuasive, and my classmates talked about their older smoking sisters and how cool they were. The conviction that worked for me prevented me from being critical of the suggestion, and I tried smoking, regretting it the second I tried it.
I think it is impossible to completely shut myself off from the influence of persuasive environmental and social cues. Instead, it’s even wrong because some persuasion is useful. Remember how you did not always want to wash your hands before eating or brushing your teeth, and your mother convinced you that germs would settle in your stomachs without this. Sure, it scared us, but at the end of the day, I brush my teeth three times a day, and hand cleaning, especially in this day and age, is always necessary. I think that person is an open system that can regulate and filter information from the external environment. Processing this information allows us to change our behavior or resist beliefs if we see that they are not helpful.
Myers, D. G. & Twenge, J. M. (2019). Persuasion. In Social Psychology (13th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.