Essay on Persuasion: Definition, Elements and Process!

Definition of Persuasion:

There are many definitions of persuasion. Some emphasized on internal motive of the audience more than using logic.

Birembeck and Howell said “Persuasion is the conscious attempt to modify thought and action by manipulating the motives of men towards predetermined ends”.


Fotheringham affirmed “Persuasion is that body of effects in receivers that has been caused by persuader’s message”.

Scheidel began more nearer to the type of persuasion we are familiar to, he defined persuasion as:

“The activity in which the speaker and the listener are conjoined and in which the speaker consciously attempts to influence the behavior of the listener by transmitting audible and visible symbolic.”

Central to this definition is the notions of conscious internet, message transmission and behavioral change. It also includes sender and receiver which make the components of definition resembling the components of communication.


Persuasion, from this point of view, depends upon two main aspects:

1. Communication.

2. Intending planning of persuader to affect audience.

Depending on previous clarification, we can define persuasion as: “The intended use of communication to form a desired response from receivers to their social environment”.

Elements of Persuasion:


We can underline five elements of persuasion:

1. The invention or discovery of evidence and argument, and their

2. Organization,

3. Artistic stylizing,


4. Memorization, and

5. Skillful delivery.

Process of Persuasion:

Models of the Persuasive Process:

The foregoing theories of the way in which communication content influences individual conduct, have led numerous attempts to capitalize on these conceptualizations for the purpose of deliberately manipulating human behavior by communicated messages.


In attempting to describe the nature of these formulations, two things will be made clear:

1. These models of the persuasive process are the extension and utilization of the contemporary theories of communication.

2. These models are roughly formulated. There are a number of other models of the persuasion process that could be formulated instead.

The first of these two conceptualizations is called the psychodynamic model of the persuasion process. The essence of the idea is that an effective persuasive message is said to be one which has properties capable of altering the psychological functioning of the individual in such a way, that he will respond overly with modes of behavior, recommended by the communicator.


It has been assumed that effective persuasion is the change of the internal psychological structure of the individual, so that the psychodynamic relationship between the latent internal process and manifest overt behavior, will lead to acts, intended by the source of the communication.

Extensive use has been made of persuasive messages aimed at individual attitudes, under the assumption that there is a close relationship between a person’s attitudinal structure and his behavior in social situations, of the persuasive process would be as follow:

The psychodynamic model rests upon an extensive theoretical as well as an empirical base. Important theories of motivation, perception, learning and even psychoanalysis have suggested ways in which, attitudes, fears, self-conceptions, reinforcement, and many other variables, are related to persuasion.

The psychodynamic model of the persuasion process are attempts to use the theory for practical purposes, this mode has by no means been the only one that has been tried. A somewhat more complicated alternative stems from a combination of the social relationship perspective and the cultural norm theory. For the lack of a better term, we will refer to this as the socio-cultural model of the persuasion process.


Social and cultural variables have been widely recognized by communication researchers and other social scientists, as playing an important part in determining the way, in which people adopt new ideas and things.

However, socio-cultural variables have been used as a basis for appeals in persuasive communication. The socio-cultural variables from which the individual derives interpretation of reality as well as being significant forms of social control are important sources determining the direction of the individual’s attitude.

Asch & Sheriff show how the influence of norms plays a powerful role in guiding, defining and modifying the behavior of the individual, somewhat independently of the state of his internal predisposition. Sociological studies have supported this generalization.

The work of Lohman and Reilzes, Merton, Kit, Mead, De Fleur and Westic, Minared and Newcomb, indicate the way in which such variable as organizational membership, work roles, reference groups, cultural norms, and primary group norms can play a part in channeling overt action, in ways that are, to some extent uninfluenced by internal psychological predispositions.

It must be recognized, however, that the behavioral patterns of the individual cannot be interpreted on the basis of psychological predispositions. It must be recognized, however, that the behavioral patterns of the individual cannot be interpreted on the basis of psychological factors only, especially when the individual is acting within special social setting.

Reference must be made to the variables that surround the action, in order to predict, explain and manipulate such a behavior effectively.


The socio-cultural factors existing in an individual setting are important determiners of the direction that the individual’s behavior will take. This behavior can be contrary to that intended since he may find certain social and cultural constraints, which will make him compelled to conform under condition.

This situation would cause the individual a social and psychological conflict in following the behavior prescribed by the communicator. Represented schematically, such a model of the persuasive process is Figure 3.1.

Socia-Cultural Model

These two concepts suggest that the persuasive messages presented via the mass media may provide the appearance of consensus with respect to a given object, or goal of persuasion. The communicator can also show how the non-adopter is a deviant and a non-conformist.

He may also show simultaneously, the way in which social rewards, group integration, and social approval, are bestowed upon the individual for obeying the communicator’s goal. There are undoubtedly numerous ways in which persuasion process could be conceptualized. The psychodynamic and the socio-cultural strategies, however, seem to be rather clear links to the attitudes and their formation.