Thursday, February 25, 2010

Les Art of Pre-persuasion...

Propagandists use four specific stratagems of influence as a way to convince the general public to buy into their ideas. The first of these stratagems is called pre-persuasion. Per-persuasion is when the propagandists set the context in such a way that their idea, product, or selling point is most favorably.

According to Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson in their book Age of Propaganda, pre-persuasion "establishing how an issue is defined and discussed... a communicator can influence cognitive responses and and obtain consent without even appearing to persuade" (51).

After framing the situation to be favorable, they propagandists then work to set up the second strategy of influence: Source Credibility. In order to further pass their ideas off as favorable, the propagandists work to select favorable people, images, and situations that appeal to people. In order to be most effective, Pratkanis and Aronson say that the source chosen should be "expert and trustworthy (123). This is why a lot of companies and propagandists choose celebrities to endorse their ideas and products because they are seen as favorable in the public eye. we, as a general public, will often situate ourselves with the celebrity, and want to act as they do because we then can achieve the happiness, wealth, popularity, love, etc., that they have.

The reason why I included all of this background information is because I am trying to model the art of pre-persuasion. This past week, while watching TV, I watched a new episode of The Office. Now in the 6th season, The fictional paper company Dunder-Mifflin, who has been in financial difficulty for the entirety of the series, finally has been bought out by another company: Sabre. The two companies merge, and as Sabre takes over management, the Sabre manager makes the Dunder-Mifflin team watch the Sabre instructional video. The video describes all of the new policies that the workers must enact. The most interesting point of this however, is the fact that Christian Bale, who neither works for the company nor knows anything about selling paper, narrates the video. When the actual company owners comes to visit Dunder-Mifflin/Sabre team, the Dunder-Mifflin boss Michael Scott is sad to see that it is not indeed Christian Bale.

Though this is a fictional account, the pre-persuasion and source credibility are still played out for the viewer. The instructional video is set up to make the company and the new employees feel like they will enjoy the new policies. Christian Bale, the credible source, is important because it shows how Michael Scott was fooled into believing that Bale actually was part of the company.

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