The Receiver in Cogency
We now turn our attention to the hearer, reader, or audience-- the receiver of the message. Because all persuasion is ultimately receiver centered, much of what was said about the source and the message could have been included in this chapter. In this chapter we are going to consider some of the important personal and attitudinal factors that cause persons to accept, distort, or reject the message. Distortion and rejection are barriers to cogency. The reader may notice that the factors discussed in this chapter are somewhat different from those in the two previous chapters. It may seem that the persuader can do little to overcome some of these problems. Unlike message variables whereby the persuader can choose, say, to put his strongest arguments first or last, or unlike source variables whereby he may choose to emphasize or deemphasize his qualifications (to use just two examples), the persuader may have fewer choices concerning the barriers discussed in this chapter. He can do little about the personal traits of his audience or about their reactions to his message. Although he may not immediately be able to change his audience's personal characteristics, to the extent that he knows his audience, he may be able to vary the message to bypass or overcome some of these problems. Knowledge of these interactions is useful in helping to explain why some persuasion attempts fail and why others succeed.