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Restoring America’s Image Abroad: Communicating with Skeptical Audiences William K. Fung Multidisciplinary Workshop October 16-17, 2003.

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Presentation on theme: "Restoring America’s Image Abroad: Communicating with Skeptical Audiences William K. Fung Multidisciplinary Workshop October 16-17, 2003."— Presentation transcript:

1 Restoring America’s Image Abroad: Communicating with Skeptical Audiences William K. Fung Multidisciplinary Workshop October 16-17, 2003

2 Lowering Resistance to Persuasion: Lessons from Research Eric S. Knowles, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology University of Arkansas Copyright 2003 by Eric Knowles

3 Outline for the next 25 Minutes Two Strategies for Persuasion: Alpha and Omega Discuss Resistance Dealing Directly Resistance Dealing Indirectly Resistance

4 Approach-Avoidance Model Goals invoke many motives Approach motives promote movement toward a goal Avoidance motives resist movement toward a goal

5 Two Strategies for Persuasion and Attitude Change Alpha Strategies Approach Based Strategies Increase Desire Omega Strategies Avoidance Based Strategies Reduce Resistance

6 Two Strategies for Persuasion and Attitude Change Alpha Strategies Approach Based Strategies Increase Desire Omega Strategies Avoidance Based Strategies Reduce Resistance

7 Most Persuasion Is Alpha Based: Aimed at Increasing Approach Forces Strong arguments Added incentives Attractive and expert sources Perceptions of scarcity Consistency and commitment Social consensus Liking and reciprocity

8 Omega Based Change Strategies Sidestep resistance Address resistance directly Address resistance indirectly Distract resistance Disrupt resistance Consume resistance Use resistance to promote change

9 Resistance Has a Several Facets

10 Reactance Reaction to being influenced Pushing back Restoring freedom of choice

11 Distrust Contrariness Counterarguing Wariness Paranoia

12 Scrutiny Careful decision making Consideration of all alternatives Deliberativeness Indecision

13 Inertia Set in ways Not making changes Little attention to offers, messages, new opinions

14 Two Consequences of Resistance ACTIVE Resistance –Engages persuader, argues, counterargues, aggressive, involved –Interactive with persuader, respond to offers and arguments AVOIDANT Resistance –Dismisses persuader, inattentive, disengaged –Unresponsive to offers or arguments

15 Dealing Directly with Active Resistance LISTEN Resistance is informative The implicit content of resistance is a pathway to its reduction ACKNOWLDGE Being heard reduces resistance Being heard is necessary for a dialogue HONOR Look for the opportunities in resistance, not the dangers.

16 Acknowledging Resistance If students paid a little more tuition, they’d get a much better education! Do you agree? (1 = Not at all, 9 = Very Much) Study 1: Mean = 2.13 Study 2: Mean = 2.46 I know you won’t want to agree with this, but if students paid a little more tuition, they’d get a much better education! Study 1: 3.31 Study 2: 3.31

17 Acknowledging Resistance in a Simple Request Would you mail this letter for me? 71% complied I know you might not want to, but would you mail this letter for me? 100% complied

18 Address Resistance Directly With Guarantees

19 Address Resistance Directly With Information Identify sources of resistance. Counterargue—provide information to counter the resistance. “Two–sided” messages effective when people already resistant. “Two-sided” messages boomerang when people not resistant.

20 Dealing Indirectly with Active Resistance Raise the Comparison Change the Time Frame Reframe Resistance Use Choice to Separate Resistance and Acceptance

21 Raise the Comparison Judgments don’t occur in a vacuum Judgments always involve a comparison, even if only implicit

22 Olympic Medals and Comparisons Silver Medal Winners Dejected Compare up I didn’t win! Bronze Medal Winners Very Happy Compare “down” I got a medal! Medvec, Madey, & Gilovich, 1995 Silver Bronze

23 Comparison as Influence Strategy Alpha Strategy Compare benefits downward My product does more than theirs Omega Strategy Compare costs up My service is easier to use than theirs

24 Change the Time Frame Immediate  focus on the specific implementation: How can I do it? Distant Future  focus on the general opportunities: What will I get?

25 As Choices Move Into the Future Value more, Probability less Ends more, Means less Primary Goals more, Secondary Goals less Trope & Liberman, 2003, Temporal Construal Theory

26 Reframe Resistance Meet resistance with reflection “your reluctance shows that you are really concerned about this process, we are too” Meet resistance by strategically reframing the problem “I’m not your enemy, time is your enemy” “My hope is that you make a choice, not that you take this suggestion”

27 Use Choice to Separate Resistance and Acceptance Meaningful choice allows people to separate the desire to accept and the desire to resistance on different alternatives. Take-it or leave-it choices focus both these desires on the same alternative.

28 Summary Resistance is informative Resistance can be overwhelmed (but not diminished) by Alpha Persuasion Strategies Resistance can be diminished or disarmed by Omega Persuasion Strategies Read more about this approach at


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