Persuasion in its fundamental sense is an act eliciting conformity. This is the concept that allows a person to conform to new ideas and beliefs as postulated by another person, group or even organization and accept these ideas and beliefs as being true. To effect persuasion in someone, one has to present well thought out arguments and reasons that will elicit conformity to the ideas put forth. In other words, persuasion is the undeniable state of being convinced, where one settles on certain beliefs or ideas induced by external forces be it people or otherwise.
To justify this, one has to look at how persuasion is manifest. The power of persuasion hovers around us in many ways, for example, in politics and the media, just to mention a few. One just has to look outside the window to see these powers at play. One common power of persuasion today would be the media. Today, people take what the media says and prints to be the gospel truth. Take fashion magazines and the models in them. The models are lean, tall and obviously beautiful. However, these unilateral depictions of beauty make women believe that beauty resides in how lean one is, and men agree. Those who read these magazines try to conform to the idea of beauty as expressed in them either consciously or unconsciously. The same situation applies to advertising on television, newspapers, radio, internet and other media. Kilbourne (1999) suggests that advertisers do far more than influence taste. She continues and says that, they manipulate our desires so that their products become our closest friends. People want to become what they see in the media, falling prey and conforming to what they address.
Politicians also use the power of persuasion to ensure that they gunner the required votes to attain political office. For a politician to win an election, it means they have to convince as many people as possible to conform to their ideas and political positions. Just like the media, politicians use words to sway the voters to their side. They come up with rallying slogans to ensure that the masses are inspired to vote for them. One notable slogan was United States President, Barrack Obama, with his 2008 slogan, “Yes We Can”. Many consider this as one of the major reasons for his success. The American nation and the world at large believed that he could deliver what he was promising. Mutz (2007) agree and state that politics, at its core, is about persuasion. A good politician sways the masses to conform to his or her ideas.
Several factors ensure persuasion in people. For one, true believers persuade people better. A person who does not believe in what they are selling will find it difficult to make to other people conform to their ideas and beliefs. Therefore, one has top posses unwavering belief to nurture true believers. Another important factor is that it is easier to persuade like-minded people. A political front of like-minded individuals is likely to agree more readily opposing political factions having different mindsets. On the other hand, it is difficult to convince one to change their position from one to the other if one has strong negative attitude toward what one hopes to convince them. Therefore, it will be more tasking to persuade such a person.
Other than these factors, people like to base their decisions on evidence and logic. According to Hamilton (2010), evidence forms the basis for the logical arguments a speaker develops, logic being the basis of reason. People believe that for an argument to be convincing, the argument needs to have proof. The more solid evidence provided, the more persuasive is likely to be. Hamilton (2010), in other words suggests that logic connects the various pieces of evidence in a meaningful and persuasive argument. In conclusion, persuasion takes various forms and these forms essentially appeals to different people of different persuasions.
Hamilton, C. (2010). Communicating for results: A guide for business and the professions. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth.
Kilbourne, J. (1999). Deadly persuasion: Why women and girls must fight the addictive power of advertising. New York, NY: Free Press.
Mutz, D. C. (2007). Political persuasion and attitude change. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press.