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The rational model of persuasion

What is Persuasion?

What do advertisements and debate club have in common?

They’re both examples of persuasive techniques at work.

Persuasion basically means trying to influence the way someone thinks or behaves. There are all kinds of different ways to persuade someone to do something. The ad is using an appeal to emotion. It’s associating the soda with being happy, so it’s trying to persuade you to buy the soda so you’ll be happy like the people in the ad. The students at the debate club are doing something different. Instead of appealing to emotion, they’re trying to persuade each other with logical arguments that use facts and evidence.

Being persuasive isn’t the same thing as being right. The implied claim in the soda ad is that drinking the soda will give you a lot of friends and make you happy. That’s objectively not true. But that kind of advertising can be very persuasive, and a lot of people are influenced by it. In this lesson, you’ll look at theories of persuasion and how they work.

The Rational Model

The rational model of persuasion is based on the idea that people behave in predictable ways based on their beliefs and values. Beliefs and values are based on what the person knows about the world. So for example, if someone knows that wearing a seatbelt saves lives and if he or she values their own life, they probably believe that they should wear a seatbelt. Based on their beliefs and values, they will probably behave in a rational way and wear their seatbelt in the car.

The rational model can get pretty complicated. For example, most of us believe that a salad is healthier than pizza, but lots and lots of people every day go into restaurants and order pizza instead of salads. What gives? One possible answer is that those people have conflicting values and beliefs. They might believe that salad is healthier, but they might also believe that pizza is more delicious. They might value health, but they might also value pleasure.