Persuasion by Design:
The State of Expertise
on Visual Influence Tactics
North Carolina State University
University of Oregon
Marian Friestad University of Oregon
In this chapter we assess the accumulated expertise on visual persuasion in American society at the beginning of the 21st century. Attempts to influence and persuade others via the strategic alteration of visual stimuli occur on a grand scale in modern American society. It may seem tempting to view this deluge of humangenerated visual stuff as evidence in itself that practical expertise in visual persuasion is highly advanced. If so, experts in visual persuasion would operate to craftily control our visual world's elements and thereby predictably alter our everyday thoughts and behavior in ways they intend.
However, our analysis suggests that practical expertise in applied everyday visual persuasion is not very well developed. Effective persuasion is fairly difficult to achieve in real world practice. Knowledge about influence and persuasion tactics is a societal good. It is widely shared within a society. The psychology of successful persuasion is complex. And the rate of change in the technologies for visual communication available to a prospective influence agent is very high, making technological mastery in itself quite challenging.
To gain better insight on this, we asked the following questions. As best we can tell, what is the current state of the art in applied visual persuasion? What do