Chapter 9 Notes: Public Opinion and Persuasion

30 03 2009

Public opinion is definitely one of those subjects with a large ‘gray’ area. It is hard to put one single common outlook on a topic for a large group of people in the public.

Public discussion plays the primary role in the process of forming public opinion. There are two types of leaders that play a huge role in public opinion. They are formal leaders (power leaders) and informal leaders (role models ).  These leaders allow information to “flow” from them to the public.  Persuasion has many uses…it can change or neutralize hostile opinions, crystallize latent opinions and positive attitudes, and conserve favorable opinions.  There are important factors involved in persuasion.  They are audience analysis, source credibility, appeal to self interest, message clarity, timing and context, audience participation, suggestions for action, content and structure  of messages, and persuasive speaking.  The negative aspect  or view of propaganda came about during the world wars being negatively associated with the informational activities involved with the enemy.  Though it has changed today, it still has  a negative connotation.  Today the word is typically associated with political or ideological persuasion emphasizing deceit and duplicity.  The techniques used in propaganda are similar to the techniques of advertising and other publicly related messages.

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