Persuasive candidates

Sunday 14 October 2012

As October  continues its mischievous weather, many of us are inundated with election campaigns.  Here in the Czech Republic, the communist party has made major gains by attacking the corruption of the center-right government.  In the US the country is watching presidential debates and engaging in daily prognostications about who will be the next president. Elections (of sorts) have also recently taken place in Belarus and Venezuela.

Is there any way to link these current events to psychology?

Petty & Cacioppo (1984) proposed the Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion.  They argue that there are two major routes to persuasion.  The central route relies on solid arguments based on relevant facts and figures that get people to think about the issues. The peripheral route, rather than engaging a person’s thinking, provides cues that stimulate acceptance of the argument without much thinking.

One of the most famous ads in US history was the ad used by George Bush against his Democratic challenger, Michael Dukakis.  Can you see why this ad was so effective? Notice the “appeal to emotion” that this video very successfully employed in the election campaign.

So, is the peripheral route alive and well in the current US election?  Take a look at the following articles, and you decide.

Tags: communication, persuasion, body language, nonverbal, TOK


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