Persuasive Communication/Collective Behavior and Public Opinion: Rapid Shifts in Opinion and Communication/The Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication and Attitudes in the 21st Century

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Persuasive Communication, 2d ed., by James B. Stiff and Paul A. Mongeau. New York and London: The Guilford Press, 2002. 348 pp. $42 pbk.

Collective Behavior and Public Opinion: Rapid Shifts in Opinion and Communication, by Jaap van Ginneken. The European Institute for Media Studies. Mahway, NJ, and London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2003.301 pp. $69.95 hbk.

The Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication and Attitudes in the 21st Century, 2d ed. Richard M. Perloff. Mahwah, NJ, and London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2003. 392 pp. $89.95 hbk. $44.95 pbk.

Either Persuasive Communication or The Dynamics of Persuasion could be a good choice for a textbook for a persuasion class. Both books reviewed the basics of social scientific inquiry. In their second editions, both included recent scholarship. Readers will find the latter more changed.

This second edition of Perloff's The Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication and Attitudes in the 21st Century, published a decade after the first, covered persuasion from a social science perspective. Persuasion was introduced and attitudes were covered in the first section. The second section covered processing, source factors, message factors, personality, cognitive dissonance, and interpersonal communication. Advertising and campaigns were covered in section three.

The new book covered much of the same material as the first, and the content was updated throughout with recent scholarship. The book's focus on a social science perspective was a strength. The second edition, however, was different in several ways from the first. Perloff expanded the "discussion of attitude structure, functions, and measurement," added more examples that show persuasion in the "real world," and markedly changed the presentation style.

The second edition has a strikingly different "voice" from the first edition. Its foundation in academic social science research journals was clearly present in the 1993 edition, and a first-year graduate student could benefit from mimicking the style. The second edition retained the citations but the "voice" was breezier. For example, the first edition took the reader through the foundational assumptions and challenges to Festinger's cognitive dissonance theory and displayed the social scientific process and way of thinking. The new book devoted a chapter to cognitive dissonance and included recent scholarship, but the presentation was less reflective of the style of academic research. Indeed, the first edition was distinguished by its historical presentation of theory, and that aspect was lessened in the second edition thereby diminishing the uniqueness of the book.

The new edition included two-dozen boxes that ran a page or more and most of them featured a story connecting the chapter topic to a narrative of persuasion at work. This new edition will probably be more accessible to lower-level undergraduate students, but it retains the resources needed by a first-year graduate student. Perloff teaches at Cleveland State University.

Stiff and Mongeau were successful in reaching their goal "to keep the strongest elements of the first edition while updating and clarifying the presentation" of Persuasive Communication. For example, message factors were divided into two chapters, one on the effects of rational appeals and one on the effects of emotional appeals. The focus was on social scientific methods.

The first part of the book discussed fundamental issues in persuasion research, drew distinctions among types of persuasive activity, reviewed social science methods, and covered attitude and behavior. The second part of the book, "Components of Persuasive Transactions," covered persuasive sources, message characteristics, receiver characteristics, and settings characteristics. Part three, "Persuasion Models," covered cognitive models, interpersonal models, producing and resisting messages, and campaigns. …