Communication, Language, and Meaning: Psychological Perspectives

By George A. Miller | Go to book overview

22 PERSUASION

William J. McGuire

People communicate for many reasons. They communicate in order to give information, to ask help, to give orders, to make promises, to provide amusement, to express their ideas (or, as Voltaire said, to hide them). The present discussion deals with another important function, persuasion. Much of the communicating that people do is intended to persuade someone to change his attitudes or the way he behaves. Because persuasion is both a very common and a very important reason for communicating, it has received a great deal of attention from psychologists interested in social interaction.

The study of persuasion is interesting both on scientific and on practical grounds. On the scientific side, it helps us to understand better why people behave the way they do, and why their behavior sometimes changes. On the practical side, an understanding of persuasive techniques would have obvious value to an advertiser, a politician, an educator-to anyone whose job it is to change what people think and do. It is probably not surprising, therefore, that the amount of research devoted each year to this topic has been growing even faster than the burgeoning rate of psychology as a whole. There have been literally hundreds of experiments on persuasive communication during each of the past decades.

As soon as we begin to think seriously about the process of persuasion, it is obvious that an enormous range of factors can contribute to its success or failure. In order to study persuasion analytically, we would like to vary each of these factors and see what effects they have. Each of these variable factors -- or

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Communication, Language, and Meaning: Psychological Perspectives
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • The Authors v
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xiii
  • 1: Psychology and Communication 3
  • 2: Psychology and the Theory of Language 13
  • 3: The Realm of Syntax 23
  • 4: The Realm of Meaning 36
  • 5: Biological Aspects of Language 49
  • 6: The Brain and Language 61
  • 7: Speech Development and Bird Song: Are There Any Parallels? 73
  • 8: Primate Communication 84
  • 9: Teaching Apes to Communicate 95
  • 10: The Development of Language in Children 107
  • 11 - Learning to Read 117
  • 12: The Speech Code 128
  • 13: Artificial Speech 141
  • 14: Language and Perception 149
  • 15: Language and Memory 159
  • 16: Language and Thought 172
  • 17: Language and Probability 185
  • 18: Communication and Computers 196
  • 19: Communication in Small Groups 208
  • 20: Mass Communication 219
  • 21: Nonverbal Communication 231
  • 22: Persuasion 242
  • 23: Language and Psychopathology 256
  • 24: The Sociology of Language 268
  • 25: Translation and Bilingualism 280
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 291
  • Index 299
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