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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Resistance To Persuasion

The young mind is pliable and imitates, but in more advanced states grows rigid and must be warmed and softened before it will receive a deep impression. 

There are numerous ways to resist persuasion if one understands the components and strategies involved in most messages. These techniques include counterargument, forewarning, and reactance.

When not distracted, we tend to counterargue silently while we listen to a persuasive message. We can resist others' peruasive efforts by concentrating on our own counterarguments, resisting distractions, and taking more time between hearing the message and making the decision (eg. what to buy, how to vote).

When people know they are going to hear a persuasive message, this forewarning tends to make them less persuadable. We can apply this stragegy by reminding ourselves that a television commercial is a form of advertisement, not entertainment. Forewarning ourselves and others about the messages we are about to hear can increase our resistance to persuasion.

People dislike having their freedom and choice limited. When messages dictate restrictions or policies , we often responds with reactance, a preference for the forbidden or restricted action. For example, a sign that says "Keep Off the Grass" may result in the reactant behaviour of stomping deliberatley on the grass, whereas one that appeals "Please Walk on the Sidewalk" is subtler and more willingly obeyed.
 To resist persuasion, we can stimulate our own reactant tendencies by asking ourselves "Who says?" and reminding ourselves that "No one tells me what to do!"
Advertising isn't a science. It's persuasion. And persuasion is an art.

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