Persuasive communication

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Persuasive communication (from the Latin persuadere, "persuade") is a form of interpersonal communication that aims to influence the communication partner. The primary goal of persuasive communication is to achieve changes in attitudes, but not understanding or exchanging information. Persuasive communication is used by linguistics and communication science, e.g. B. investigated in mass media communication, but also plays a role in other sciences (e.g. in psychology ). Persuasive communication is also a branch of modern rhetoric . Due to the intention of influencing and convincing, there is also a close proximity to classical rhetoric.

Definition and occurrence

Persuasive communication occurs in many places, especially in mass communication , advertising and PR communication, in marketing , in sales talks, in political communication (e.g. propaganda ) and in psychotherapy . Persuasive communication is, often unconsciously , part of private communication. There is no consensus on the scientific definition and demarcation of the term persuasion from other communication-scientific and communication-psychological categories. According to Lewandowski (1979) , persuasive communication does not aim to change attitudes in the long term, but only to achieve short-term goals. According to Robert Cialdini, however, what is meant is long-term persuasion, which has a guiding effect.

From 1953 onwards, persuasive communication was also systematically examined by Carl I. Hovland of Yale University under the systematics “ who says what to whom ”, summarized as the Yale approach to changing attitudes . The persuasive effect of various forms of communication could be verified experimentally . Among other things, it was shown that the inclusion of opposing arguments and viewpoints in one's own communication is advantageous and suitable for refuting other counter-arguments from the outset.

Psychological models of attitude change

Elaboration likelihood model

The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM for short) by Richard E. Petty and John T. Cacioppo distinguishes two paths that can be followed to convince :

  • The central route appeals to the other person's mind and works e.g. B. with arguments .
  • The peripheral route appeals to the other person's feelings. Characteristics of the speaker such as sympathy and status but also simple heuristics have an influence on the persuasiveness .

The model assumes a continuum of information processing, i.e. it assumes that with more central processing, peripheral processing decreases and vice versa.

Heuristic-systematic model

The heuristic-systematic model (HSM for short) is a model developed by Shelly Chaiken in 1980, which also assumes two possible ways of changing attitudes:

  • The systematic route corresponds to the central route of the ELM, i.e. it addresses the rational side of the recipient
  • However, the heuristic route is much more narrowly defined than the peripheral route of the ELM. In the HSM, only heuristics for peripheral information processing count.

A special feature of the HSM is that the two ways of information processing can appear and interact together .

Emotional versus rational attitudes

Attitudes based on sensible considerations of utility (for example, towards household appliances or work clothes) can best be changed through rational arguments. Attitudes based on emotions (for example towards perfumes or designer clothes) can best be changed with emotional messages.

Foot-in-the-door technology

The name of this technique comes from door-to-door salespeople , but is not limited to this area. It is described as follows: You ask a small favor that the other person practically cannot refuse. Once you have your "foot" "in the door", you come out with the real demand. Because people want to appear consistent , they often give in to the following larger request. Observations provide the theory of self-perception of Daryl Bem and the theory of cognitive dissonance by Leon Festinger . ( See also: Consistency Theory .)

In the classic experiment by Jonathan Freedman and Scott Fraser (1966), they asked California housewives to sign a petition for defensive driving . Two weeks later, these women and an equally large group of women who had not previously been addressed were asked whether they would put a large billboard for defensive driving in their front yard. The number of approvals in the “petition group” was three times as high as in the control group . This technology is also used by charitable institutions, for example in blood donation campaigns or fundraising .

Door-in-the-face technology

The door-in-the-face technique is described as follows: You ask for such a big, outrageous favor that practically everyone refuses. Then you ask for something much less (the real request) and there is a good chance that the other person will not refuse this request and agree. One speaks here of a zero point shift.

The American psychologist Robert Cialdini demonstrated the door-in-the-face technique in an experiment in 1975:

A group of people was asked whether they would accompany young people to the zoo on a one-off basis and unpaid: only 17 percent agreed. The comparison group was asked in advance whether they would work two hours a week over a period of two years and unpaid for a youth center - to which the answer was mostly “no”. Three times as many of the test subjects agreed to the actual follow-up question of whether one would be willing to accompany young people to the zoo once.

Persuasive communication in psychotherapy

Persuasive communication also plays an important role in the context of psychological and psychotherapeutic methods. On the one hand directly within the framework of the patient's active conviction, on the other hand indirectly, in that the findings of persuasion research are used to question the patient's dysfunctional belief patterns. By describing the process of attitudes arising, persuasion research also points the way to starting points for questioning opinions and cognitions . In particular, targeted interventions such as B. cognitive restructuring , certain forms of counseling psychotherapy and traditional psychotherapeutic methods as well as effect-oriented techniques of coaching directly or indirectly use methods and / or knowledge of persuasive communication.


  • Robert B. Cialdini: The Psychology of Persuasion. 5th edition. 2008, ISBN 978-3-456-84478-7 .
  • James Dillard, Michael Pfau: The Persuasion Handbook. 2002, ISBN 0-7619-2006-4 .
  • Richard Geml, Hermann Lauer: Marketing and Sales Lexicon. 4th edition. Verlag Schäffer-Poeschel, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-7910-2798-2 .
  • Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin, Robert B. Cialdini: Yes !: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive. Free Press, 2008, ISBN 978-1-4165-7096-7 .
  • Josef Kopperschmidt : General rhetoric, introduction to the theory of persuasive communication. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1973.
  • Theodor Lewandowski: Linguistic Dictionary. Volume 2, UTB, Heidelberg 1979, ISBN 3-494-02021-3 , p. 556.

See also

Leading question


Sales pitch

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Gert Ueding, Bernd Steinbrink: Outline of the rhetoric. History - technology - method. 5th updated edition. Stuttgart 2011.
  2. Joseph Kopperschmidt: General Rhetoric: Introduction to the Theory of Persuasive Communication. Kohlhammer, 1976.
  3. ^ E. Aronson , TD Wilson, RM Akert: Social Psychology. 6th edition. Pearson Studium, 2008, ISBN 978-3-8273-7359-5 , pp. 200 f.
  4. Petty Fabrigar: The role of affective and cognitive bases of attitudes in susceptibility to affectively and cognitively based persuasion . In: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 25, 1999, pp. 363-381.
  5. ^ ER Smith, DM Mackie: Social Psychology. 2nd Edition. Psychology Press, 2000, ISBN 0-86377-587-X , p. 296.
  6. RB Cialdini, JE Vincent, SK Lewis, J. Catalan, D. Wheeler, BL Darby: Reciprocal Concessions Procedure for Inducing Compliance: The Door-in-the-Face Technique . In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology . tape 31 , no. 2 , 1975, p. 206-215 .
  7. ^ Allen E. Bergin: The effect of dissonant persuasive communications upon changes in a self-referring attitude. In: Journal of Personality. Volume 30, No. 3, September 1962, pp. 423-438.
  8. RB Cialdini: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. New York 2007.
  9. T. Takahashi: A persuasion therapy for panic disorder in old Japanese medical literature. In: Compr Psychiatry. Volume 34, No. 1, Jan-Feb 1993, pp. 31-35.
  10. ^ RB Cialdini: Influence: Science and practice. 4th edition. Boston 2001.
  11. Linda Wilcoxon Craighead, W. Edward Craighead: Implications of persuasive communication research for the modification of self-statements. In: Cognitive Therapy and Research. Volume 4, No. 2, June 1980, pp. 117-134.