Psychology 101: The aRt of PeRsuAsion

When you think of the term ‘persuasion,’ what comes to your mind? Is it TV commercials, politicians trying to get you to vote, or Kylie Jenner posting images of her latest make up brand? Persuasion is such a strong force in our everyday lives and has a huge impact on society in general. The news, commercials, legal choices etc, are all impacted by the power of persuasion which further influences us. This article will be discussing what persuasion is, how it used in our daily lives and the psychological connection of how we respond to persuasion.

Persuasion is a symbolic process in which communicators try to convince other people to change their attitude or certain actions about a problem by using transmission messages in an atmosphere of free choice. So basically, someone is trying to make you change your mind by listing out all the bad that can come with your decisions and how it can negatively impact you.

We as humans, sometimes like to believe that we are invulnerable to persuasion; that we have the ability to see through the advertisement, understand its intentions, and come to a result on our own. While this might be true in some scenarios, persuasion goes beyond advertisements and commercials. There are many psychological principles to persuasion. These three are the most common and effective ones.

First up is reciprocation. This is a principle based on the concept that people will be nice if you are,  that doing something first or giving them something nice is more likely to come back to you. In this principle, the size doesn’t matter. Something as small as a candy can impact people beyond its financial value. I don’t know about you, but when someone gives me something, I make sure to return the favor because it shows that I too care for them just like they do for me. This principle works in various levels. We are more likely to trust someone who trust us.

Next up, is social proof. An example of this is when you watch a TV show like the Big Bang Theory, the audience in the background laughs when someone cracks a joke. This serves as ‘cue’ for the viewers to laugh as well. We are more likely to say yes and do something that others are doing.

Lastly, authority. We are more likely to comply with someone who has a certain hierarchy. This is associated with our inclination to be persuaded by authority figures: someone who is confident, knowledgeable and reliable on a certain topic. If your parents tell you to walk the dog, you do it because they are your parents and have a hierarchy in your family.  Am I right?

Persuasion can be both positive and negative.  For instance, public campaigns that urge people to recycle their trash or reduce the use of plastic is for the benefit of not just one person, but all of us. A negative use of persuasion is peer pressure. When your so-called friends persuade you to do something you don’t want to, they tend to use all sorts of techniques to persuade you to do so. So the next time you try to persuade someone, think of why you are doing so. Is it for good or bad? Is it going to  benefit only you or others as well?

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