Persuasion Theory

Persuasion is something that happens every second. Even that statement is a form of persuasion to those who read it. On a daily basis, I’m subjected to persuasion from advertisements on billboards and television to even school textbooks. A simple argument in my large family involves persuasion. My understanding of persuasion as a whole is that it is a form of communication that serves to convince other people of either buying something or believing something. Persuasion can range from an ad that says “Must buy!” to peer pressure. Like our textbook highlights, persuasion can be considered a type of art. Everyone is susceptible to persuasion at times but no one falls for it every time. Each person has their own beliefs and, sometimes, even the most convincing persuasion cannot sway someone to change their mind. But, other times, the most moving persuasion can change somebody’s mind. And a “moving” persuasion does not necessarily mean persistent and excessive. It could simply mean having all the facts to back it up, or maybe being someone or some company that a person trusts.

The fact is, since persuasion is everywhere and everyone is susceptible to it, it plays an enormous role in the functioning of our society. With this large role comes a responsibility that plays into its relationship with ethics. For one, persuasion shouldn’t be a lie. An example of this is false advertising to receive more sales. Lying to sell a product and earn more profit is immoral. Not only that, but many times people are simply not interested in changing their beliefs. Even more so, some people may go as far as insulting others’ opinions in order to convince someone else of their own beliefs.

As a form of communication, persuasion can be beneficial and detrimental. When used ethically it can be beneficial for both the persuader and the persuaded, but when used unethically it can become a trap that forces another person into something that he or she would not normally want. In the end, it’s best to be aware of the persuasion and to focus on the benefits because it can be something really valuable. Not only does it allow someone to voice their own opinions, but it connects people together and spreads many valuable ideas or beliefs.

Pullman’s Introduction IW

After reading the “Introduction” to George Pullman’s Persuasion,  one section I found particularly interesting was the “Self Awareness” section. Pullman highlights the significance of the rhetorical processes in establishing personal beliefs. I found this to be the most interesting point because I have often found myself believing in things strongly, but not understanding how I got there. In return, when I have tried to argue or persuade these said beliefs to someone else, I can never seem to fully convey why I believe it and why he or she should too. This leads me to feel irrational and, like Pullman states, less “credible.” Similarly, when I can trace the rhetorical processes of my beliefs, I find I am a much stronger persuader and more confident in my beliefs. Additionally, in today’s times with the current onslaught of political messages and media in everyday life, self-awareness becomes even more vital. In a controversially charged society, the importance of self-awareness does not end at one’s own awareness of his or her beliefs but the awareness of persuasion all around. Not everyone who spreads their beliefs understands their rhetorical process. This is especially concerning with those in professional or higher positions who can persuade or argue their beliefs to others daily. That is something that is difficult about persuasion that Pullman also touches on. Persuasion influences everyone and everyone has their own beliefs. It’s something that is impossible to escape which makes awareness of one’s self and awareness of others all the more important.