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The Principle of Reciprocity

If Logos implies reason then Pathos, the third and final plank of this approach, suggests a more emotional appeal. Here we would be following the more peripheral route – if we remember the ELM model – to persuasion.

Smith divides emotional appeals into positive and negative types. Positive appeals involve the deployment of values such as love (which includes compassion and sympathy), virtue, humour and even sex. We can think of many campaigns that deploy such ‘warm’ appeals from puppy dogs advertising toilet tissue to the jolly Father Christmas in the seasonal Coca Cola advertising campaign.

When it comes to the influence of psychology in recent thinking on persuasion two theories instantly spring to my mind. The Theory of Reasoned Action, developed originally by Fishbein and Ajzen in 1967, suggests individuals carry out a complicated process of evaluation of a given communication message weighing up different influences. The recipient will consider, for example, the opinions of friends and family; their existing beliefs and attitudes towards the message subject; and to what extent they believe they can or should comply.

This suggests successful persuasion requires the alteration of one or more of these factors. For example, the introduction of new, more relevant beliefs to replace those already held; attempts to highlight supportive opinions of those the recipient may respect and listen to, celebrity endorsement or peer pressure, for example (changing the ‘subjective norm’); and finally, a self-efficacy message component to convince the recipient of an obvious and easily attained positive result for them as an individual. This approach requires us to research extensively before carrying out our communication programme. To change our target audience’s beliefs, attitudes and values we first need to know what they are.