Monday, September 28, 2009

Attitudes, Beliefs, and Actions Persuaded by Propaganda

By Amanda Jones


Attitudes, beliefs and actions are easily persuaded by modern day propaganda. Jowett and O’Donnell define propaganda as the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist. To fully understand propaganda you must understand the way attitudes, beliefs and actions play a part in the persuasion technique.


We all have existing attitudes and beliefs with each influencing our actions. Our attitudes, beliefs and actions affect the way we perceive new information such as propaganda. In order for one to persuade another, the persuader must have knowledge of existing attitudes and beliefs to use as an anchor in persuasion.


Attitudes are formed by certain beliefs about a person, idea, or object. People have countless attitudes, many of which can be used as an appeal to promote the change wanted by the propagandist.  Beliefs are simply someone’s opinion about someone or something. Like attitudes, beliefs are used as an anchor to promote change. The stronger beliefs of the receiver the more likely it is to influence the formation of a new belief. (Jowett/O’Donnell p. 31) Actions or behaviors can also be used as an anchor to affect already existing beliefs or attitudes of the target audience


The mass media is a perfect form of propaganda that changes many people’s attitudes, beliefs and actions every day. Advertising can be seen a form if propaganda. It persuades people to feel or act a certain way about a commercial product, organization, person or brand. Advertising is everywhere. You can see it on TV in your living room, billboards all around town, and even hear it on the radio while driving in your car. Attitudes, beliefs and actions can be easily persuaded by placing emotion into an advertisement. Emotional appeals are used often to connect people to the band or product which without doubt help in the persuasion process. If someone connects to the ad on an emotional level then the advertisement has done its job on persuading the consumer to buy or become a fan of the product. 



Politics can also be seen as a form of propaganda. Think back to the Obama/McCain election, how many campaign ads did you see? Campaign ads along with campaign posters, books, movies and radio are tools uses to win over the peoples vote. Politics are flooded with propaganda to change people’s attitudes toward a certain politician. Political experts discuss how candidates sincerely reach out to voters, how a cold, detached persona alienates key demographics, and how campaign advertisements arouse passions-- ranging from hope and enthusiasm to anger and discontent. (Weber, 2007) Emotional appeals are also common in political campaigning.


According to Encyclopedia Britannica, propaganda is the more or less systematic effort to manipulate other people’s beliefs, attitudes, or actions by means of symbols (words, gestures, banners, monuments, music, clothing, insignia, hairstyles, designs on coins and postage stamps, and so forth). Propaganda must focus in already existing attitudes and beliefs to trigger a change in the audience. If one can relate to the audience then one is more like to persuade the viewer to make the change wanted by the propagandist. Next time when you try to persuade a group of people, do your homework. Know what will cause the audience to change their beliefs or attitudes about a certain subject.



Work cited:


Jowett, G.S. & V. O’Donnell. (2006). Chapter 1. What is propaganda and how does it differ from persuasion? In Propaganda and Persuasion, 4th edition (pp. 1-48). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 


propaganda. (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved September 21, 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online:


Weber, C. , 2007-08-30 "Emotional Campaigns: The Role of Discrete Emotions in Political Advertising" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Hyatt Regency Chicago and the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, Chicago, IL Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2009-05-27 from



Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Sleeper Effect

by Monica Peterson

            "A friend of a friend told me" is a common expression that many people use when telling a story that they have recently heard. However, as time passes, the source is forgotten, or dissociated from the message, yielding an increase in effect from the message content itself. Simply put, while we may discount something initially because of who said it, or where we encountered it, over time we will forget the source, or dissociate it from the message, but remember the message.
The sleeper effect theory is when people receive a communication associated with a discounting cue, such as a non-credible source, they are less persuaded immediately after exposure than they are later in time. (?). There are many people that rely on additional information to determine what they will eventually believe or not believe. Overtime there are many messages that we receive that are used to persuade us to change our opinion on the initial subject.
The sleeper effect relies solely on persuasion. If the intended audience is not consistently hearing differing information associated with a certain topic, they are more than likely to believe the majority opinion. Although the sleeper effect has caused many arguments on its credibility, it is hard to overlook some of the actualities that it implies.
In politics, for example, candidates running for an office heavily rely on the sleeper effect. The sleeper effect phenomenon is examined to explain how the impact of negative political advertising persists--and even increases--over time. The prevalence and increasing legitimacy of negative attack ads raises the question of how to respond to and discount the influence of an attack particularly among candidates who will almost inevitably be attacked (Weaver Lariscy, Ruth Ann, and Spencer F. Tinkham).
Negative news may not only have short term behavioral effects, but also effects on underlying attitudes such as trust in politicians, which may produce their sleeper effect on political behavior only in the long run (website). These attacks are primarily used during the election season between opposing candidates. These ads are used to persuade us to either investigate further on the targeted issue or change our perception on the intentions of the other candidate. These messages are extremely biased so they are not believed immediately. During debates we often do not initially believe what the candidates are arguing because they are mainly just attacking each other; this is when the sleeper effect comes into play.
Television news stations, such as CNN and the Fox News Channel, use the sleeper effect to its full potential. The information that they discuss about the candidates gives us more information on what the candidates are really advocating. Using this method it strongly determines how we will base our opinions on the candidates and ultimately vote in the election.
The art of persuading others to change their opinions and mindsets takes time and patience which is why the sleeper effect has been closely studied throughout the years. This theory is still being studied on its credibility and whether or not it truly does have an influence on the way we come to our final conclusions.

Weaver Lariscy, Ruth Ann, and Spencer F. Tinkham. "The Sleeper Effect and Negative Political Advertising." Journal of Advertising 28.4 (Winter 1999): 13. Academic OneFile. Gale. Northwest Missouri State - Owens Lib. 22 Sept. 2009 <>.

Kumkale, G. Tarcan, and Dolores Albarracin. "The sleeper effect in persuasion: a meta-analytic review." Psychological Bulletin 130.1 (Jan 2004): 143(30). Academic OneFile. Gale. Northwest Missouri State - Owens Lib. 22 Sept. 2009 

Kleinnijenhuis, J. , van Hoof, A. M. and Oegema, D. , 2006-06-16 "Negative News and the Sleeper Effect of Distrust" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Dresden International Congress Centre, Dresden, Germany Online <PDF>. 2009-05-25 from

Enhancing One's Credibility

By Sammy Jo Flinn

While researching the topic of credibility, I stumbled across various articles that questioned whether or not they were giving accurate information or feeding me lies of what the writer simply believed.  There are also numerous leaders in the United States that give information but how do you know if they are creditable?  There are many ways that you can enhance your credibility and it is pretty easy to do so. Whether you give excellent sources by using proper citation techniques or have your information in an orderly manner that it is easy to read and find what the reader or listener is looking for. In this blog I have included some strategies that anyone can use to enhance their credibility with some persuasion.

Dr. Nancy Snow said that "Persuasion is an essential, indispensable feature of human interaction," and to enhance your credibility with persuasion there must be some facts or evidence to back your statement. There are many ways to do this by explaining your background and qualifications to your reader as well as being well-prepared and organized. Now think of one name of someone that you respect, look up to and would follow. Let's take The President of the United States, Obama. What makes people look up him, follow him and trust him with the power of this country? He has to have some sort of credibility. Some ways that President Obama does this is first by adopting a language style that is suitable to his audience and the occasion. For the recent election, his campaign slogan was "Yes we can." This use of persuasion earned Obama millions of followers. In his speech the night of the primary in New Hampshire, Obama uses the phrases "you came out tonight" or "with your voices, you made it possible" and "we are ready" to show the listeners and followers that this campaign wasn't just about him being the President of the United States, it was about you, me and us as a people coming together. This form of persuasion is a great way to get followers and enhance your credibility.

Another easy way that you may enhance your credibility is being well prepared and organized. This is a way that a website with information on it can gain credibility. One website that is extremely organized and well prepared is At the top of the page you can search for any article that you need. If you typed in "health care," you get about nine articles that are related to this topic. The one relating titled "Can I get too much anti-oxidant?" first puts the reader in the title and gets their attention. The article itself there is information about the author, not only just her name but her title, "Dr. Melina Jampolis, Diet and Fitness Expert." Right there you know that they have credibility because they are stating their title right in the beginning of the article. In the article, however it relates to the reader, using the personable approach. Talking straight to the reader makes them feel like you care, and gives them a sense that what you are saying is true. This feeling may also lead the reader to recommend your website/ article to someone else and then you have the chain reaction occur.

Finally the last way you can enhance your credibility is establishing trustworthiness by demonstrating that you have your listener's interest at heart. In an article from titled "How to avoid gaining the Freshmen 15," the title in itself is targeted toward the reader, especially freshmen in college. Within the article it gives you various tips about how to avoid this plague including a standard diet plan that could work for you even if you live on campus and have to eat from the local cafeteria. This gives the article credibility because they are in the readers shoes and they are relating to them.

            These three ways can definitely persuade your readers to think that you are creditable. Whether it's being organized and easy to read or just by relating to the reader and being in their shoes. Readers really listen to what the writer says and if you are a good persuader, than you will be able to gain some decent credibility.

Citations/ Websites Used:

Video about Barack Obama and his speech including quotes from reading.

Article about “How to avoid Freshmen 15” / how the writer gets credibility from relating

Miller,B (2009). How to avoid the Freshmen 15. Retrieved from

“How to become a persuasive person” Also includes 10 guidelines to enhance one’s credibility

Snow, N (2003). How to become a persuasive person. Retrieved from

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Power of Labeling

By Chris Parsons

The power of labeling a person, place or thing is a something that can never be taken lightly. Does it really matter, if say, a boy or girl is label as a jock or a nerd, prep or a goth? What does it mean to be called an overachiever or a chronic-slacker? Does a label or title really precede a person if it is spread enough? Do people create a label for themselves or does the label create them?

What is a label? Webster’s Dictionary defines a label as a card, etc, marked and attached to an object to show its contents, (1. Attach a label to. 2. Classify as.) So when we as people label one another we are classifying each other. What is this based on? Is it our actions, words, ethics, work habits or our hobbies? This article will try to look into the power of labeling and how it might be used to persuade us and as forms of propaganda.

Some labels are extremely powerful. You think of a jock and you think of the best looking athlete scoring the game winning touchdown or hitting the home runs. On the opposite side of that a person who is labeled as a geek instantly brings images of suspenders, white button up shirts with pocket protectors and big thick glasses.

However a label is not always a negative thing. To be labeled as a husband, a mother, a teacher, a mentor. All of these are honors and labels are things that people strive to earn and be known as. Positive labeling has proven and long lasting effects just as negative has its. Labeling a child as a prodigy or as a child genius and telling the child this has the effect of them developing into that kind of person even if it wasn’t inherently true to begin with.

As mention earlier even our food choices are steered to a certain outlook because of labeling. A healthy individual who cares about what they eat will stay far away from a food labeled as being high in fat. One week a certain type of food is good for us then the next it is bad and the populace follows those labels like sheep follow one another in the flock.

When a person is labeled, positively or negatively, deservingly or spitefully, the question of whether or not a person can overcome a label that has been given to them. Can a person who is labeled as a slacker become a person who gets their work done in a timely manner? The answer is yes so one of the questions posted at the beginning can be answered. A person does not become their label. A person can overcome and move beyond a label. Whether or not they simply move away from the origin of their label to a place that they are not known or through work and a dedication to remove them from that title they finally overcome it.

By that same notion however it can be said that a person does not create his or her own label. A student who works hard and volunteers to help the teacher can sometimes be labeled a teachers pet and by that standard they are never seen to get in trouble or a bad grade because of that connection, not the work and effort they put into class.

This relates to propaganda and persuasion in a few ways. One such way is Looking at it from another stand point when you go to the supermarket and decide to pick up a piece of steak do you look at the B grade cuts or is it the grade A prime choice cut that has your attention. This is how labeling persuades us in our choices. While most of the time the label is there for your healthy, great tasting needs sometimes the label is there for a purely cosmetic or advertising situations.
A box of cereal label as good for you will sell fairly well. Add to the label of that cereal that it is great tasting and good for you and people will most likely choose the one that is great tasting because the label of the cereal declares it to be so.

The label of something has a profound impact on most decisions or assumptions that a person makes. A manager at a supermarket has two applicants for a job, both of equal skill and all applicable areas. One however is an ex-con who has just been released. Because he is required to make that information known on his application, because it is the label he and society have put on himself he may very well not get the job because of that. That is the power of labeling.

Proof of the above mentioned scenario could be found within the definition of Labeling Theory. Encyclopedia Britannica has the definition as a product of society’s reaction to the individual (Labeling 2009). Which means that the individual, once convicted of a crime, is labeled a criminal and thereby acquires a criminal identity. Once returned to society, he continues to be regarded as a criminal and is consequently rejected by law-abiding persons and accepted by other delinquents. This has been found to be true. Most ex-cons on attempts to start their life anew as a law-abiding citizen are usually shot down because of their label. Which in turn makes them return to the criminal lifestyle and the cycle continues.

The Journal of Food Products Marketing conducted a study. A summary of the study is as follows. “The aim of this study is to identify motives and barriers for the consumption of fresh tropical fruits and their juices. Also the potential role of labeling information, more specifically process-related quality labeling for fresh tropical fruits, and on-label nutrition and health claims for tropical fruit juices, are investigated. This study indicates that pleasure-seeking and hedonism motives are major drivers, whereas high perceived price and unfamiliarity form the most prominent barriers for consuming tropical fruit and tropical fruit juices. Process-related quality labels are considered credible and persuasive, but the expected price premium hampers the purchase of process-certified tropical fruit products. Health and nutrition claims on tropical fruit juices are not believed to be persuasive unless they match well with the perceived naturalness of the juices” (Sabbe, Verbeke, Van Damme, 2009).

In the end the power of labeling seems to be prevalent and will continue its hold over those who are labeled through others or their own deeds. That is why we as a collective should never judge a book by its cover and delve to find those true natures and facts beneath the label.


Labeling theory. (2009). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved September 21, 2009, from Encyclopedia Britannica Online:

Goldman, Jonathan L. (2000). Webster’s New Pocket Dictionary. Cleveland, Ohio: Wiley Publishing Inc.

Sabbe, Sara, Verbeke Wim, Van Damme Patrick (2009). Perceived Motives, Barriers and Role of Labeling Information on Tropical Fruit Consumption: Exploratory Findings.
Journal of Food Products Marketing; 2009, Vol. 15 Issue 2, p119-138, 20p, 3 charts.
doi: [10.1080/10454440802316750].

NBC's "Great Experiment" -- Leno's Prime-Time Talk Show -- Launches Loud but Fades Fast: But Leno's "Brand" is Adaptable

by Brooke Shanholtz

NBC recently shifted Jay Leno's Prime Time Talk Show to an earlier
time. His Talk show now airs at 10/9 central which used to be filled
with drama. This was a huge risk by NBC but not necessarily a bad one.

On the premiere of Jay Leno's new time slot 18.4 million viewers tuned
in. A week later that number has dropped to a third of that amount. I
am not surprised at all with these statistics. I personally have never
consistently watched the Jay Leno talk show, but I even tuned in the
first night; and not because of the appearance of artist Kanye West. I
tuned in because of the consistent marketing tactics prior to the
shows premiere.

The advertisement for Jay Leno's new time spot was remarkable. It
grabbed the attention of viewers and caused much anticipation. The
commercial advertisement was played consistently a couple weeks prior
to the changing of the time slot. The TV spot grabbed my attention, as
well as the rest of the countries, and I was sure to tune in on the
first night of the new time slot. But I do have to admit, like
millions of others, I have not tuned in for the talk show since. It's
not that I did not like it; there are just other programs I would
prefer to watch during that time.

Even with the dramatic decrease in the number of viewers critics still
say not to count Leno out yet. "His is a strong and powerful American
brand, and NBC made a smart marketing move to shift him to an earlier
time slot, Forbes reports. His average viewer is much happy to be able
to tune in earlier in the evening and still get up with the birds."
Forbes also points out that it was a good lesson in brand management
showing that brands respond to shifts in consumer attitudes.

(2009, September 24). BULLDOG REPORTER'S DAILY DOG. Retrieved from

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Conformity and Persuasion

By Bryce Davis

Have you ever felt out of place in a group of friends? Their clothes look different than yours, and you listen to a complete different genre of music. All you want to do is fit in with your "new friends" so you decide to tweak your style a bit to look like them, and maybe even start listing to music other than what you are used to. If anything in your life sounds similar to this, you are simply bringing out your need to conform. Conformity is almost like a disease that affects anyone and everyone whether we like it or not. There can be nothing wrong with conformity; it's just simply a matter of an individual wanting to belong. After all, the one thing all human beings have in common is the need to fit in somewhere in life.

Conformity is the desire to go along with the norms of people in a certain group so you feel accepted as part of that group. In life it is always nice to have someone to relate to. Conforming isn't always a bad thing; it's sort of a way we find our true selves.

Sometimes conformity can happen without people even realizing it is happening. Take the popular teen movie "Mean Girls" into perspective. The main character of the film, Cadi has just moved to the United States from a completely different culture in Africa. She stumbles upon many different cliques in her new high school including band geeks, jocks, Asians, and the most popular group known as the plastics. The Plastics represent what everyone wants to be; popular, rich, and pretty. Unfortunately, the plastics are also the meanest clique in school. The movies heroin Cadi slowly and unknowingly falls into their clique and become known as the meanest girl in school without her even realizing until the conclusion of the movie. This movie gives a good example of how can also be not such a good thing when peer pressure gets thrown into the mix.

When conforming to a group, you must follow the rules of the group. Rules aren't necessarily something like you would have to follow in a classroom. It can deal with language, attitude, clothing styles, and even music. Relating to the film Mean Girls again, The Plastics had their own set of rules that they all had to follow including certain days designated to the color pink or even how they are supposed to wear their hair. There can be two different types of people in a group when it comes to rules. One would be the in-group members who "follow" the rules by keeping to the identity of the group. The other type would be what is known as the peripheral members who try to impress the in-group members.

There are three different types of conformity that have been revealed by a Harvard psychologist by the name of Herbert Kelman. The first is known as compliance which deals with an individual conforms to the public and still sticks to his or her own beliefs. The second type is known as identification. This type states that an individual conforms to someone who is well liked. The third type is known as internalization which specifies how someone would conform personally and publicly.

Now, you may be wondering how all of this relates to propaganda and persuasion. One key word that rings in my mind is Influence. Influence is what persuasion is all about. If you want to gain trust from someone in a group you have to influence them to do so. In our everyday lives we are being influenced whether it deals with the high school cliques we have lived through similar to those in Mean Girls or even in the job market with different employees and co-workers. Conformity can be a good thing and it can be a bad thing, but one thing is for sure that we will continue to live our daily lives conforming to find out where exactly fit in.


The Need for Conformity. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2009, from

Michaels, L. (Producer), & Waters, M. (Director). (2004). Mean Girls [Motion picture]. United States: Paramount Pictures.

Conformity Psychology . (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2009, from ple in point.

Pity and Guilt

by Justin Yates

As some of the clips shown in class will tell you (e.g. the Al Gore Global Warming clip), there are few things that are more depressing and pathetic than helplessness. Young animals appear to be helpless and tortured. A seal pup barking for its mother or a penguin looking for food on the shore have the tendency to cause us to revert back to our emotions, typically pity or sadness. Obviously we all have different levels of pity, but it’s very common for us all to feel helpless, maybe even guilty for these animal’s problems. For a brief moment, we forget about our own problems and feel it necessary to bring it upon ourselves to help these animals.

These videos are a prime example of propaganda being used in a positive manner. Rather than causing significant controversy, animal cruelty activists are generally working for the greater good. By using images, songs, and other means of persuasion, they can get their point across on a highly emotional level that typically does not leave them subject to ridicule or criticism.

The organizations themselves are not alone in their efforts. Celebrities have taken it upon themselves to help such causes. In Sarah McLachlan’s latest humanitarian mission, over $30 million has been raised for the ASPCA since the broadcast of her animal cruelty commercials since 2006. By depicting sad and sometimes graphic images of abused, malnourished animals, the ASPCA asks for financial assistance from its audience. These powerful images are the reason McLachlan’s commercial has been so effective. (Strom, 2008)

While animal cruelty is not considered a major problem in today’s America due to health care reform, H1N1, and economic recession, I still believe it is not an issue to be ignored.

This is only a small part of propaganda directed towards pity and guilt. A more controversial topic is that of abortion. This is a touchy subject, to say the least. Unlike animal cruelty, there are definitely those who feel very strongly on both sides of the issue.

For those who are pro-life, propaganda can be an extraordinary political weapon. By showing sad, sickening, or emotional pictures depicting abortion as a godless, cruel act they can drive their opinions home by affecting the moral and emotional psychology of their target audience. If there is one thing that’s more emotionally pulling than helpless animals, its young children being depicted as murder victims.

These methods are highly controversial, much as the topic of abortion itself. However, the attempted persuasion of lawmakers and other government officials is often not achieved through propaganda. (Chung, 2003) But the messages these sorts of ads convey are very powerful to the general population.

Now I am not going to state my opinion on either of these matters, due to the sensitivity of both. But animal abuse and abortion are two major areas that sometimes use propaganda. Our emotions are sometimes difficult to classify, and they have the tendency to overtake our thinking on occasion. Due to our complex psychologies, emotions have the ability to change our minds on a variety of topics. And some corporations can sometimes persuade others to think how they want them to think, act how they want them to act, or even encourage or persuade others to do the same.

Sometimes these strategies are very intrusive. With regard to abortion and emotions associated with it, some women may feel like ruthless murderers who are the scorn of the rest of society. And the constant debate between both sides of the issue just adds fuel to the fire. Sometimes the best policy for persuasion is to borderline insult the audience, like in the case of abortion. Guilt can be a powerful emotion, and it’s sometimes very effective in persuading and influencing the thoughts and feelings of others. (Carpentier, 2009)

In conclusion, propaganda that appeals to pity and guilt is a very broad area of persuasion. We’ve all been subjected to it, and most of us have probably been influenced by it. And growing up in a world so uncertain and controversial, I can only imagine that the amount of propaganda regarding such topics will only grow and become more blatant and forward.


Carpentier, Megan. (2009, Aug. 21). Federal judge upholds south dakota anti-abortion propaganda law. Retrieved from:

Chung, Sandra M. (2003, Nov. 7). Sifting through anti-abortion propaganda. Retrieved from:

Strom, Stephanie. (2008, Dec. 25). Ad featuring singer proves bonanza for the a.s.p.c.a. Retrieved from:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Do You Experience Decision Anxiety?

By Melissa Grovijohn

Do you ever find anxiety to be affecting your decisions? Anxiety can cause a person to do things that he/she normally wouldn't.  Or at least put pressure on you to give in to what is bothering you. While few people enjoy being anxious, most have experienced at some point, and anxiety can be a very persuasive influence on our decision making.

So what is anxiety exactly? The article "Anxiety and Social Explanation: Some Anxiety about Anxiety" says that "anxiety is a psychic condition of heightened sensitivity to some perceived threat, risk, peril or danger" (Hunt, 1999). Anxiety causes people to be afraid of things that are unknown. Anxiety can easily occur before a first test in a class because it is hard to know how hard a teacher's tests are before you take the first one.

Anxiety can cause you to look outside of yourself for the answers of how you can solve a problem. When people do not experience much anxiety, they often rely on their own previous notions because they feel comfortable with the situation. However, if a person comes across a foreign situation that causes anxiety it would benefit them to look to external sources so that they can consider all the information available to them (Smith and Richards, 1967). For example, if a person has dealt with the loss grandparents but then has a friend die, the loss of a friend is different and so she might have to get extra help dealing with this new type of loss.

Anxiety relates to persuasion in terms of decision making. Emotional priming and framing can influence a person to either be swayed or not be swayed by anxiety. Emotional priming leads people to keep what they have known when anxiety comes. However, when they don't have an opinion they can be swayed one way or another. Framing is the opposite, as anxiety will lessen the firm grip on what people already think is true while if they did not know anything they will follow what they have in the past (Smith and Richards, 1967).

The level of anxiety can influence how persuasion affects a person. Studies show that people with low-self esteem are particularly susceptible to persuasion. These people are called "socially anxious" and are generally very concerned about receiving approval from others. People who are highly anxious are likely to express moderate opinions in order to avoid conflict. Moderately anxious individuals are not as concerned about the possibility of conflict and stay with what they believe. People with low anxiety may be fine with conflict and will stay true to themselves (Sears, 1967).

So hopefully now you have a greater understanding of what anxiety is and how it can influence decision making. If you do not want anxiety to affect your decisions, try to relax and pray that God would help you make the decision that is right for you.


Hunt, A. (1999, Spring99). Anxiety and Social Explanation: Some Anxieties about Anxiety, Journal of Social History, 32(3), 509.

Sears, D. (1967, October). Social anxiety, opinion structure, and opinion change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 7(21), 142-151. Doi:10.1037/h0021229

Smith, K& Richards, B. (1967, January), Effects of a Rational Appeal and of Anxiety on Conformity Behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 5(1), 122-126.

Familiar Phrases and Persuasion

By Suzanne Hedberg


Familiar Phrases and Persuasion


                When talking about current familiar phrases, it is impossible to do so without also talking about how advertisements have an effect on our speech.  In today’s society, people are exposed to many common phrases through the internet, television, radio, newspapers, and magazines.  Nearly every major company has adopted a phrase, theme, or jingle.  Many people would be able to recognize Obama’s “hope and change” theme in the 2008 presidential election, sing the jingle to, or identify State Farm Insurance Company’s phrase, “Like a good neighbor…”  These phrases are meant to persuade the audience to utilize the company, or, in Obama’s case, vote for the candidate.  Everyday phrases such as these are examples of how the elaboration likelihood model works in our everyday lives.

                The elaboration likelihood model holds that there are two “routes” to persuasion – the central route and the peripheral route.  Garth S. Jowett and Victoria O’Donnell maintain that “motivation to engage in persuasive transactions is related to attentional factors, message quality, a person’s involvement in the issue, and a person’s ability to process persuasive argument” (Jowett and O’Donnell, 2006).  Attitude change that stems from purposeful evaluation, logic, or elaboration is the central route to persuasion.  It creates an enduring attitude related to behavioral intention.  Generally phrases that are easily picked up on are due to peripheral cues which are driven by the attractiveness of the argument.  The attractiveness of the slogan or phrase makes it easily picked up and remembered.  It does not require the audience to weigh the pros and cons and evaluate the product.   The peripheral route of persuasion is most often used in advertisement.  Most ads are short (one minute or less) and are run multiple times in order to get the phrase across to the audience.

                Repetition is a common tactic in all persuasion and would not be effective otherwise.  If, for example,’s commercial ran once on television and never aired again, this would be ineffective.  The goal of any company is to have name recognition so the company can make itself known and remembered (Rank, 2008).  Our everyday lives are flooded with repeated commercials and ads that flash their phrase in hopes it will by catchy to their audience, be remembered, and therefore be persuasive. 

                In our notes, Erwin P. Bettinghaus and Michael J. Cody say, “persuasion involves [a] conscious effort to influence” (J. Fisher, personal communication, September 18, 2009).  When discussing persuasion as a conscious effort in regards to phrases shared within a group, I must disagree with Bettinghaus and Cody.  Our everyday actions and phrases often have an effect on others, whether it is intended or unintended.  Take for instance a phrase that one friend often says to another.  More than likely, if the two spend enough time together the second person will pick it up.  This is not because the first was persuading her to do so, but because groups often share similar values and similar senses of humor.  Additionally, the unintended receiver effect does not follow what Bettinghaus and Cody claim about persuasion either.  Merely talking about a product to a group of friends and someone overhearing and going out and buying the product does not constitute as a conscious effort to influence others. 

                The internet, television, radio, newspapers and magazines all offer phrases which are either remembered and repeated by the public – offering an example of effective persuasion – or forgotten by the public – offering an example of ineffective persuasion.  The elaboration likelihood model shows us how we are persuaded by advertising or campaigning.  Persuasion does not only occur in advertisements presented daily in media outlets, but also in circles of friends who merely share common phrases with each other.  Maybe next time a phrase comes along you won’t be so easily persuaded.  Or, maybe the’s jingle will just get stuck in your head.




Fisher, J. (2009, September). Intentionality and persuasion. Maryville, Missouri.


Jowett, G.S. & V. O’Donnell. (2006). Chapter 4. Propaganda and Persuasion Examined.  In Propaganda and Persuasion, 4th edition (pp. 161-202). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Rank, H. (2008). The abcs of tv ads. Retrieved from 




Subliminal Persuasion

By Keri Stoner

"Subliminal persuasion is a signal or message embedded in another medium, designed to pass below the normal limits of the human mind's perception. These messages are unrecognizable by the conscious mind, but in certain situations can affect the subconscious mind and can negatively or positively influence subsequent later thoughts, behaviors, actions, attitudes, belief systems and value systems" (Wikipedia). Subliminal persuasion or messages are used to make us want something without our realization. They are ads in the ads that we do not see right off or maybe even at all. These ads make us think we need it all, they manipulate our minds and make us think our lives are not as good as they could be and therefore cause us to purchase things that will make our lives "better."

Subliminal persuasion has been around and used since as early as the 1950's when Vance Packard’s book was published in 1957 called The Hidden Persuader. Although his book was about subliminal messages, he never used the word subliminal in his book. This book did not make Packard a very well respected man but it did sell a lot of copies. Although, "Packard had gotten some more respectful treatment in the last years of his life. He was the subject of a serious 1994 biography by Daniel Horowitz. And in his New Republic review of Horowitz's book, historian Jackson Lears argued that Packard 'deserves a place alongside more formidably intellectual figures in any history of twentieth-century social thought'" (Futrelle ). His book was about subliminal messaging and how they worked, although at that time most people did not understand subliminal messages were. The book put a bad taste in the majority's mouths, but people still read it. Even after his death the obituaries sounded a bit bitter when mentioning his life accomplishments.

"The American individual is subject to an average of 1500 advertisements per day, which appeal to us on an unconscious level, encouraging dissatisfaction with ourselves, and creating discontent which demands appeasement through material acquisition" (Butler, 2001). Why would anyone want to create dissatisfaction within ourselves? Well, maybe someone would want to create dissatisfaction within our minds in order to create unnecessary self esteem issues that make us think we have to have that shirt or those shoes or even that particular stomach in order to feel any self worth. It is a pretty rough world when advertisements are telling us we're not good enough.

Subliminal persuasion usually uses sexual images that the consumer does not readily realize are there. This is the advertiser's way to lure the consumer into purchasing their product. There is some belief that there are sexual subliminal images in cartoon Disney movies. What kind of society puts sexual images in children's movies? Of course there has always been the "sex sells" when it comes to beer ads but there are usually sexual subliminal images in these sexy ads. These images portray more than just a model in a swimsuit and they take some looking at to actually see. Sneaky images within ads are how they are subliminal; which means "under the threshold" (Wikipedia).

On a more positive note, subliminal persuasion can be used in a good way. Not all subliminal persuasion is used through imagery sometimes it is all about what we hear as well. Subliminal messages in audio programs are ads that have been proven very effective and are used by many psychologists to help people who want positive results. These positive subliminal messages are called "Subliminal Love Tapes." By listening to these tapes a person can learn to manage stress, relationships and even gain motivation to lose weight. " programs with subliminal messages are designed to deliver positive affirmations directly to the subconscious — bypassing the conscious mind, which may reject these positive affirmations. This method is designed to allow the subconscious to more readily accept positive thoughts and images; replacing the negative thoughts and images we've held in our subconscious" (2006). This way it can block out negative thoughts that people have had possibly since their childhood and replace them with more positive thoughts.

At the beginning it was easy to see how negative subliminal persuasion can be, which it usually is. Even so, it was nice to find a way in which the persuasion was used for good as well. It is always encouraging to see something that is usually bad used for good. I liked that in searching for examples of subliminal persuasion I found an effective encouraging way that it is used to help people in their everyday lives. Although, in every advertisement it is a good idea to look beyond what is there and look for what your subconscious is picking up.

Futrelle , D. Media Circus: The Hidden Persuader. Retrieved from
Butler, S. (2001, April 06). Subliminal advertising: return of the hidden persuaders. Retrieved from
(2006). Subliminal Messages in Audio Programs Experience the Benefits of Subliminal Love Tapes®. Retrieved from