1. The Source
The source of a persuasive message is the communicator who is presenting it. A source is more persuasive if he or she is seen as credible(believable) and attractive. There are two ways to be credible: claiming to be an expert, and appearing to be trustworthy. When a tennis star endorses a particular brand of athletic shoe, she is persuasive because she is an expert. When an actor who always plays heroes endorses a product, he is persuasive because his career as a "good guy" makes him appear trustworthy.
There are also two ways for a source to be attractive: physical appeal and similarity to the audience. When automobile commericals feature beautiful men and women at the wheel, advertisers hope that the models' physical appeal will make the commerical persuasive. When a beer commerical portrays a group of blue-collar men enjoying a particular brand of beer, the commerical is persuasive to audience members who consider themselves similar to the characters depicted.
2. The Message
Persuasive messages can involve emotional appeals or rational arguments. When time is limited, short emotional appeals may be more effective than rational arguments. For example, anti-smoking campaigns with slogans like "Smokers Stink!" may be more persuasive than lists of recent statistical findings about the health of smokers versus nonsmokers.
Should a message be one-sided or should it present both sides of an issue? Research shows that when the audeience is highly involved and already sympathetic, a one-sided message is more persuasive. In contrast, when an audeince is undecided or uninvolved, a two-sided message seems more fair and persuasive. There is also evidence that more intelligent audiences are persuaded better by two-sided messages, probably because they more readily recognize that there are two sides to the issue.
3. The Context
Advertisers often have difficulty overcoming the internal arguments that compete with their persuasive messages. When we listen to or read a persuasive message, we are usually free to limit our attention or silently counter argue with its arguments. For this reason, many salespeople will try to prevent internal counterarguing by distracting a customer. For example, if a customer is urged to "try out" a new appliance while the salesperson talks about its features, the cusotmer will already be paying attention to two things- using the appliance and listening to the salesperson - and will have difficulty rehearsing counterarguments. Laboratory research has shown that when subjects are distracted, they are more likely to accept a persuasive message than when they have been allowed to concentrate on their counterarguments.
4. The Audience
Numerous research efforts have focused on the recipients of persuasive messages, the audience, to discover when some people are more persuadable than others. Many audience characteristics interact with message variables, like involvement or intelligence. Intelligent recipents are more persuaded by complex messages, while unintelligent recipients are more persuaded by simple emotional messages.
Other audience reasearch has identified characteristics like age or lifestyle as relevant to persuasiveness. For example, young people may be more likely to accept a message that promised popularity, while older people would find security or health amore appealing promise.