Rieff ends the chapter “The Impoverishment of Western Culture” with a movement from the individual aspects to the way which these individual attitudes playout across a culture:
“Every culture is an institutionalized system of moral demands, elaborating the conduct of personal relations, a cosset of compelling symbols.” ( 52)
The system which surrounds the individual consists of a cultural wide system of both (1) moral demands, which is expressed by means of “compelling symbols.” Freud provided a mechanism to understand and resist those symbols.
Moreover, Freud’s system made it impossible for anyone to again try and resurrect and impose the fading moral order:
No moral demand system could ever again compel at least the educated classes to that inner obedience which bound men to rules they themselves could not change except at the expense of spirit, far beyond the usefulness of such rules to the continuance of cultural achievement.
Freud believed he had put human beings – at least educated human beings – beyond the power of some system to impose upon human beings moral demands which they did not personally find necessary.
Rieff saw material comforts “rising expectations” as sufficient to stave off the ascetic strain of morality. We can simply use “analysis and art” as a substitute for religion.
We were now in a place where only a “yielding demand system” could possibly hold sway (53).
We keep seeing ourselves at the end of history, where this will just be the conclusion.
Rieff’s conclusion that Freud had created a stable place of yielding seems to fail with a vengeance. The moral demands may have changed (one must believe that biological sex is a social construct, and so on) from prior morality. That may make it appear to be “liberating”. But we are seeing moral demands as strict as anything which has been witnessed in any religion. People are keeping lists. Public displays of piety are mandatory.
It seems that Freud may have provided a tool to go after a morality of one sort of sexual limitation, but he did not free humanity from any sort of exclusively personal moral freedom.
When I was six or so, I gathered up the horde of coins collected as tribute from my parents. On the corner, just down the block from my home, was a toy. Along the back wall, to the left, tucked between this-and-that, Mr. Spector had positioned a bin of toys.
One toy in that bin mattered. A whistle: you could move a plunger in-and-out to hear a change in tone. I knew the chance to make such a silly sound would increase my happiness, alleviate my boredom, and lead me to a state of peace.
I traded my pocketful of metal for a package full of plastic wonder.
At home, safely in my room, I opened the package and put the whistle to use. In that moment, I learned painfully what is known to everyone who has lived upon this world for any length of time and with any degree of observation, that reality refuses to conform to expectation. What I want and I what I get rarely match.
I was not the first to come to this bitter realization.
It seems even the Divine are discontented with the planet. In a text which probably goes back 3500 years and was found inscribed upon burial chamber walls of various Pharaohs (Sethos I, and Ramesses II, III & VI) it is disclosed that the gods had it in for humanity.
Re, the Sun god, gathers the court of gods and reveals a terrible turn of events, “Mankind, which came into being from my eye [don’t ask], has devised plans against me.” [Beyerlin, 9]
What the created beings plot against the gods, or why the plot exists, is not disclosed. We are only left with the bare accusation of “devising plans.” The gods, easily upset, decide that eradication of humanity is the only solution to devising. Therefore, Hathor, the goddess of intoxication, is called for to kill human beings.
Re sends out minions to get some red ocher. The “slave girls” are given the task of making beer. Re mixes the red dye into the beer and pours the red beer at a designated location where Hathor decides to kill off the devisers.
Hathor goes to the place and gets herself drunk. Crushingly, stupidly drunk. She got so drunk that she could not even “perceive” mankind. And so we lived.
An Akkadian story tells us that the gods, having created human beings to do work which the gods didn’t want to do, became annoyed with the noisy human beings doing this and that and making so much noise that the gods decided it would be best to send a flood and drown the whole lot of rabble rousers.
And when human beings have thought themselves divine, the idea has been to formed to remove at least some of humanity as a way of making the world right. The lot of these monsters from Hitler to Pol Pot to Stalin to Mao have thought the solution for the world’s ills is killing “those kinds of people.” If you were dead, I would finally be happy.
Fortunately, world-conquest and the death of billions is beyond the hope or at least the ability of most people. You and I simply can’t eradicate everyone from the face of the planet so that we will be happy.
If we can’t kill everyone who gets in our way, we will need a different tool to make others conform to our expectations: this is called persuasion.
Persuasion comes in different degrees and with different purposes. There is one persuasion to get a slighter bigger tip from a customer, another persuasion to get people to stop smoking. And there is an extreme form of persuasion which treats certain thoughts and certain actions as a disease to be quarantined or cured.
It is especially crystalline and clear when the state or a mob (which is just the state without a good story about legitimacy) becomes involved, because the state and the mob have powers which approach the terror of the gods. The mob may burn your house and the state may confine your bones.
And this is all done to make the world just a little bit better, a little more comfy. After all, we’re trying to feel at home. And if building a better house for me requires burning down your house, pillaging your crops and driving your family into exile, it is worth the effort.
At least that is one of the stories that history tells again and again.
Some people must be removed, like weeds which have grown up in the wrong place. You can’t make a weed better. Some people must be cured, like a rose bush being pruned for winter and readied for spring.
I would like to go back to the quotation from Rilke at the top of this chapter, “We don’t feel very much at home in the world.” But Rilke’s line actually adds a little bit more to the statement:
We’re not very much at home
In the world we’ve expounded.
It is the world as we have interpreted it. It is not the world as it actually is. Who has any idea how to even find that place. It is the world as we have come to understand it: as our thoughts and desires and expectations have worked experience into a comprehensible shape.
That makes our attempts at persuasion ironic: We don’t merely feel out of place in the world. We feel out of place in the world as we have come to interpret it, read it, explain it, understand it.
The problem then – at least as Rilke has it – is not that the world is the wrong shape, it is that we are the wrong shape. And so we try to refashion the world into a shape which conforms to our error.
In the end we commit a fraud upon ourselves and thus live in a prison of discontentment.
Our discontentment then demands further alterations to the world. I become discontent with you. I persuade you to be different. You do become different. I get what I want; and the world is no better for it.
But that has never stopped mobs and states and jerks and petty tyrants and the rest of us from trying to not merely nudge but to remake the world so that it will fit into our pre-ordained design.
And last for a confession.
When I took the whistle from the package, I was quite careful to open only the corner and to slip the whistle free. When I became disappointed, I wanted my coins back. And so I carefully returned the whistle to the grocer.
I persuaded someone with a cash register to take the toy back. I didn’t feel any better – as you can tell from my dredging up this personal stuff for examination in a completely different century from the time it was originally performed.
My actions would be a petty theft by means of fraud. It is a form of persuasion, too.
It is also described by California Penal Code section 484a:
(a) Every person who shall feloniously steal, take, carry, lead, or drive away the personal property of another, or who shall fraudulently appropriate property which has been entrusted to him or her, or who shall knowingly and designedly, by any false or fraudulent representation or pretense, defraud any other person of money, labor or real or personal property, or who causes or procures others to report falsely of his or her wealth or mercantile character and by thus imposing upon any person, obtains credit and thereby fraudulently gets or obtains possession of money, or property or obtains the labor or service of another, is guilty of theft.
The statute of limitations has long ago run, so I can’t be prosecuted. And being a minor, I supposedly lacked the capacity to commit a crime. So I have that much going for me.
I am fascinated by the overtly religious nature of the compliance which has been required with respect to certain social issues. Rather than look to the substance of any particular issue, consider the structure of the way in compliance is required and maintained.
There is a tool used in Biblical counseling to analyze the existence of a “system”. The tool as developed in teaching (I am not the originator of the observation here, although I have used it in class) is used as a number of S’s for ease of memory
Source of Authority Sin Salvation Sanctification Systems of Authority Sparring
There must be some authority basis upon which to determine what is permitted and what is not.
There is some wrong in the world. The current variants define these in terms of some sort of “hate” or “oppression”.
There is some sort of salvation, something you must do be absolved of your sin.
Sanctification: there is some or process by which you maintain your status as a morally acceptable person.
If you fail on these points, you are then Shunned. This is cancel culture. We probably need to add “Shunning” as a sub issue of sanctification: the person is forcibly kept apart from the community under there is repentance/penance and return (but the current public religion seems to lack any possible repentance and return).
Systems of authority: there is some mechanism to propagate the system.
Finally there is sparring: defending the system from other competitive points of view. The apologetics need not be intellectually sophisticated, it need only be sufficiently pervasive as to permit the system to prevail.
I think it would be easy to make an application to various recent points of public concern and controversy.
What I have also noticed is explicitly religious conduct: There are oaths, prayers; instructions to ponder various texts, to make various public demonstrations of piety.
Today I read about an author who laid out a public sin – of which he was neither guilty nor capable of committing – which required submission to an authority, various “sacrifices” necessary to be absolved of the sin, a process of sanctification, and a requirement of shunning for those who refuse to repent. While the word “sacrifice” has a perfectly common meaning of effort, the word was striking in the midst of such language demanding overt moral protection.
The insistence of the writer would have made a medieval inquisitor blush for its lack of nuance or possibility of being mistaken.
A public religion is being developed which admits no competitor. It is morphing at the moment, so I don’t think it will necessarily maintain the same sins and sacrifices. Maybe it is just testing out variants.
There is also a fascinating technological aspect of this new religion.
Biblical judgment follows a consistent pattern: we judged on the basis of our idol
Consider the plagues of Egypt. The Pharaoh orders the death of infant boys; one by one they are cast into the river, the Nile, that great god of Egypt. The Nile brings life in the desert: their water, their food, their safety are all bound up in that great god.
But when God sets his eyes upon Egypt, it is the Nile that fails. The blood of the boys wells and the river is blood. The life of Egypt has become a gushing artery of death. The Nile has been killed and kills in turn.
The sun was a great god, the source of life. And so, God in his turns, kills the sun. The sky grows dark at day.
The Pharaoh himself is the issue of the sun. The Pharaoh’s firstborn boy is likewise a god and the son of a god. Rather than turn their worship to the true Creator, the Egyptians gave their praise to the boy in his turn.
And so the Pharaoh who brought death to the son of his slaves finds death in his own home.
There is a pattern here, the idol matches the judgment. One the type, the other the antitype.
Our idols fail precisely in their promise. They promise life, but deliver death.
The judgment need not be the end. When God first struck the Nile, the plea was for Egypt to turn. When God brought night and day, the proof was the Sun was no god. But persistence in rebellion is its own curse. And finally, the child of a lie, the promise which could not deliver, the god who is no God will fail.
“Unfortunately, however, there prevails a major and malignant malady of fools, the victims of which mistake their irrational impulses for truth and reason, even when confronted with as much evidence as any man has a right to expect from another. It may be an excess of blindness which prevents them from seeing the most glaring facts, or a perverse obstinacy which prevents them from”
In 1829 George Washington Smith published a “pamphlet” in the Philadelphia Gazette entitled, A Defence of the System of Solitary Confinement of Prisoners Adopted by the State of Pennsylvania. In 1833, the work was republished by the Philadelphia Society for the Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons. The printer, should you care to pick up a copy, was E.G. Dorsey, Printer, 16 Library Street.
The pamphlet was originally published to influence the legislature at the time a bill was pending which concerned the organization of penitentiaries in the state. On the first page of his pamphlet, Mr. Smith lays bare his proposition:
We propose to inquire whether solitary confinement, or rather the confinement of prisoners separate and apart from each other, united with a system of labor and instruction, be expedient in Pennsylvania. [Emphasis in original]
He deals briefly with the question of whether prisoners should be left to work. “The maintenance of any class in idleness, has never been intentionally practiced by any industrious and thrifty nation.” (6)
The more important question for Smith is whether keeping prisoners “separate and apart from each other” would benefit the prisoner. Now, throwing someone else into a pit, alone; chaining a miscreant in a dungeon has been the pastime of the powerful from time immemorial. Mr. Smith notes that
The Egyptians were accustomed to bury alive in dark, narrow and secluded cells of some of their vast and secure edifices, which at once served for prisons and for tombs, certain offenders against their laws. (7)
Which idea was put to good use against Fotunato in The Cask of Amontillado. Now Mr. Smith was not proposing that prisoners be walled-in behind bricks. His concern was quite the opposite.
Shortly before the Revolutionary War, a society had been formed in Philadelphia to provide for the more humane treatment of prisoners. However, the war displaced the work of the society until 1786. And one great idea from this work to humanize the prison system was to introduce solitary confinement.
The thinking was simple: Bad company corrupts good morals. The reformers were concerned about the reformation of the prison system because they were concerned about the persuasive effects that bad company would have upon those who found themselves in prison: the “effectual seclusion from society and the prevention of further injury by prisoners during the period of incarceration.” (7)
He traces the concept of segregation alone for one’s good to religious practices. It was a means of reforming the offending member to conformity by means of the “penance” of being alone. “Reformation, and not the infliction of suffering, was the noble intention of this institution.” (9)
Then in 1779, John Howard in Great Britain along with Sir William Blackstone, the great legal commentator, proposed solitary confinement as a means of reforming prisoners rather than transporting them to Australia. That same John Howard made a sizeable contribution of 500 pounds to the work of the Philadelphia society.
In a moment we will hear from those voice quite a different opinion on solitary confinement and would think of their forebearers as monsters indifferent to the plight of the hapless prisoner. But that would be unfair to them. Consider how Mr. Smith describes the then-existing jail:
In this den of abomination, were mingled in one revolting mass of festering corruption, all the collected elements of contagion; all ages, colours, and sexes, were forced into one horrid, loathsome communion of depravity. Children committed with their mothers, here first learned to lisp in strange accents of blasphemy and execration: young, pure and modest females, committed for debt, here learned from the hateful society of abandoned prostitutes (whose resting places on the floor they were compelled to share) the insidious lessons of seduction. The young apprentice in custody for some venial fault, the tyro in guilt, the unfortunate debtor – the untried and sometimes guiltless prisoners, the innocent witnesses, detained for their evidence in court against those charged with crimes – were associated with the incorrigible felon, the loathsome victim of disease and vice, the disgusting drunkard (whose means of intoxication were furnished unblushingly by the jailer!) Idleness, profligacy and widely diffused contamination were the inevitable results. (11)
They did not see solitary confinement as an excessive punishment, but as a means of protection. In 1838, John Silby writing in Great Britain published A Letter on the Superior Advantages of Separate Confinement Over the System of Prison Discipline, at Present Adopted in Gaols and Houses of Correction Addressed to Benjamin Hawes, Esq., M.P. and Respectfully Dedicated to the Worshipful Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the County of Surrey. Not exactly a promising title.
I feel the strongest assurance that nothing of the kind need be feared. I am fully aware that solitary confinement is a severe description of punishment, and, moreover, its severity may be said to increase in geometrical proportion to the time of its endurance, while the sympathies are preserved in healthy activity; but I repeat my fullest conviction that if judicially administered, no fears need be entertained of its consequences ; on the contrary, there is every reason to hope that the result would be most beneficial. I have had a prisoner under my charge, undergoing solitary confinement for six months, without the slightest alarming symptom appearing; he enjoyed very good health, and although a little reduced in strength at the end of his confinement, still not more so than many others who underwent hard labour for a less period. (66)
But by 1851, a physician reporting in the Pennsylvania Journal of Prison Discipline and Philanthropy made the following observation about the system of solitary confinement:
Not many years since, a visiter to this prison might pass and repass through the whole extent of the working apartments, without being observed by any, or at least very few of its inmates; and the means of communication between the convicts, either by signs or speech, was almost wholly suppressed. Under such discipline is it not philosophic to conclude, that the health of the convicts must suffer much more than from absolute solitary confinement? By such discipline, the instincts of our nature are continually violated, every sound that vibrates upon the ear is a call upon some other sense to assist in its relief, and every emotion of feeling has its demand upon some other faculty to come to its relief, or help in its manifestation. Now is it not easy to perceive that so great a strife continually waged between the instincts and volition, must be fraught with serious consequences to the mental and physical health of the subjects of such a system. (9)
The physician’s notes are not a model for clarity, but his point is plain. This system of solitary confinement had a profound effect upon the prisoner, but not in a positive manner. Solitary confinement did something to prisoners: it forced a profound change in the prisoner.
As the author Jack Abbot wrote concerning the “hole” (what he called solitary confinement): It could “alter the ontological makeup of a stone.” Jack Henry Abbott, In the Belly of the Beast: Letters from Prison 45 (1981).
This book began in a law office, late at night, arguing, with each other. These conversations have continued for hundreds upon thousands of hours over the decades. We will spend hours to write a one paragraph letter. We will take weeks to work and re-work a brief. We will make an argument and scrap it.
It has become a habit and a pastime.
We have disagreed and debated and again changed our minds repeatedly over some very simple questions: What are we trying to do? What are we trying to achieve? What will happen if we say No – or we say Yes – or ignore this letter – or contradict our last position. Do we pick a fight with this guy and contradict everything? Do we agree and misdirect the conversation?
Who will eventually see this letter and what do we care?
What does this lawyer want? Should we give it up or fight about it?
Our entire career has been all about this one thing: it’s how we make a living.
Now this book isn’t about us: we’re nondescript. A book about us would entertain no one.
This book concerns what learned about other people.
We are not research scientists studying persuasion by bringing 250 undergraduate students into a room and then tricking them into a filling out a questionnaire. We are lawyers and part-time professors who have had to make a living by means of persuasion.
And in that time, we have seen judges believe things which are completely untrue – believe things for which there was no evidence.
We have seen the awkward honesty win the day over a slick lie.
We have seen juries believe a party whose star witness admitted under oath that the claim was a fraud. The star witness explained how the fraud was created and how it had proceeded. The jury award the party committing the fraud – admittedly committing fraud – over ten million dollars.
And we have seen where a vicious cross-examination on behalf a multi-billion dollar corporation back-fired, and the confession out of a grieving family enflamed the jury to do right.
We have seen courts simply disregard the law and contradict their own rulings. We have read decisions where courts have seemingly made-up facts, or at least never took the time to even approximate the truth.
We have represented extraordinarily talented sellers, sales – people (?), men and women who could sell apartment buildings and sophisticated technology when others could not even get a meeting.
We have had to play persuasive chess with brilliant opposing attorneys and have had to slug it out verbal thugs who somehow passed the bar.
We have had to use these skills not merely in courts and mediation sessions, but in colleges and churches and debate tournaments.
And all this time, we have been asking ourselves Why did this work and that did not?
Why did this argument work so well on this day, but we were shut down like stray dogs the next day?
Persuasion is how we make a living. None of this is pure abstraction or study for us.
This book is the result of not exactly experiments – because we never got to do the same twice – but rather field research on persuasion.
Yes we have read about persuasion and rhetoric: We have studied ancient authorities and modern psychologists. We have read treatises and reports and looked at historical interactions as well philosophical and theological problems. We have been paid for using this information within disputes – but our interest is far broader than the Uniform Commercial Code.
And in doing that work, we have learned some-things which should matter a great deal to you.
Actually, persuasion does mean a great deal to you – whether you recognize that truth yet, or not.
You probably think persuasion matters if your job is sales. If you sell real estate or cars, you need to learn techniques to increase your chance at making a sale.
Or, perhaps you are interested more generally in how to “win friends and influence people”. Knowing a bit more about persuasion might just help you get along in life.
This is how pretty much everyone thinks about persuasion: it is a learned skill, a technique which one displays when needed. It’s kind of wrench you need to loosen a particular bolt on a motor. You can use it when you need it, but most of the time, it is simply unnecessary.
And you think, Hey, I’m not a mechanic, so I don’t need that wrench. Or, Hey, I don’t sell things so I don’t need to understand persuasion.
You are thinking about persuasion as if it were just a technique, like learning how to properly cook an egg or how to grow herbs in a box in your window.
It’s true: there are techniques which will help you become more influential in this circumstance or that. You can learn how to be better at sales. There are people who will help you learn how to deliberately influence people.
There is also “science” of persuasion. By the way, using the word “science” has a persuasive effect upon you. “Science” makes something very difficult and especially true – and if you question anything, you “deny” science.
And so, if you are like most people, persuasion is something that might get your attention in an online quiz: How persuasive are you? These fifteen questions, proven by science, will tell you the answer.
As long as you think like that, you will be the well-groomed consumer. You will never understand the degree to which you are being formed by others – and the degree to which you are busy persuading others.
Learning how to think rightly about persuasion will let you see just how powerful the forces are which shape your thinking and behavior. There are very capable people who are using very deliberate methods to persuade you to think this and do that – and what makes this best, is that it is all completely invisible to you.
You know persuasion when a commercial says Buy! But you completely miss persuasion when a news story presents you some quotation, some fact, some statistic.
You simply don’t see how often and how easily you are a lab rat in someone else’s scheme.
Until you understand how persuasion is the very air in which we human beings live and breathe and move, you will never understand what is happening all the time around you. When you can see the element of persuasion in every act of human communication, it will change the way you understand yourself, your relationships and the world around you.
And that means something more about persuasion – something which you cannot avoid. Persuasion is not merely about buying cereal or getting someone to help you move from your apartment.
Persuasion is about what it means to be a human being. This book in the end is about what we human beings are doing to and with one-another in every interaction.
Persuasion is not evil manipulation by a propaganda machine – although it may be. Persuasion is also how we fall in love, raise children and imitate the best. Persuasion is hello, thank you, please, I miss you.
To be human and communicate is to persuade. It’s not a science or a technique. It is not an abstract theory; it is kindness and violence; it is hatred and love; it is solitary confinement and the crowd at a baseball game.
This book is about persuasion, but it is really about one of the most fundamental aspects of being a human being. And so, this book is really about you.
So, which will be more effective: a list of reasons you tell yourself, or a list of reasons which someone else tells you? Are you more likely to be persuaded by your own ideas or the ideas of another.
Studies have shown that when confronting a person who engages in addictive behaviors, self-persuasion (making up your own argument) works better than “direct persuasion”, telling someone what to do. So if you get a room full smokers and tell them what a disgusting habit it is so to smoke, they are less likely to listen than if you ask a room full of smokers to give a list of reasons why someone would want to quit smoking.
This makes some intuitive sense, particularly with addictive behaviors with a low degree of social acceptance. When I tell you smoking is bad, it may sound like I am saying you are bad. In such a circumstance, the smokers actually seek to defend their behavior.
This still leaves open a number of questions. For instance, when it comes to smoking, the smoker has already heard a million arguments as to why they should quit smoking. And so, the smoker already has learned arguments to use.
Another question is whether self-generated arguments only work with addictive behaviors.
To test this idea, some researchers in a Dutch city investigated tipping behavior among restaurant goers. At the end of a meal, the wait staff handed out questionnaires on “consumer satisfaction” created by a university. There were a number of generic restaurant question.
The second part of the questionnaire differed. Some ended with a request that consumer write down reasons for giving a tip: why is tipping a good idea? A second version included some reasons to give a tip (direct persuasion). A third group included nothing about tipping.
It turned out that asking the consumer to generate reasons to tip resulted in higher tips.
A second study asked university students to respond after reading one of two fact sets. Both groups were asked to imagine being a restaurant, receiving adequate but not spectacular service. In one scenario, they were provided two good reasons to tip. In the other scenario, they were asked to come with their own reasons to tip.
There was one further element: they were also asked to rate how much tipping mattered to them: is tipping an important aspect of how you see yourself?
For those students who cared a great deal about tipping, self-persuasion had a substantial effect. But for the students who were less interested, their tipping decision was not that different depending upon whether their rationale was self-generated or provided in the fact set.
So why does this work:
It has been demonstrated that that this technique (self-persuasion) relies on the principle of commitment and consistency. [citation] This C&C principle uses the human desire to appear consistent in attitude and behavior. After committing, people are more likely to act in lien with the statement provided earlier. [citations] The persuasion power of this technique can be explained by the theory of cognitive dissonance [citation], which states that saying or doing something that runs counter to peoples’ own beliefs evokes an uncomfortable feeling when people are aware of the dissonance. Individuals try to reduce this dissonance by bringing disparate cognitions into greater harmony.
Bernritter, S.F., van Ooijen, I. and Müller, B.C.N. (2017), “Self-persuasion as marketing technique: the role of consumers’ involvement”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 51 No. 5/6, pp. 1075-1090; 1084.
A basic element of persuasion is the speaker: what do we think about the speaker? Aristotle called this element of persuasion, ethos (like ethic).
Dr. Flynn of McMasters University argues that Aristotle’s ethos, the way in which we perceive the speaker functions as a heuristic, a means of peripheral route processing which leads to greater and easier reception of the message. The responsiveness of the hearer to speaker depends upon a number of elements in the speaker and in the hearer.
On the speaker’s side, Flynn identifies trust, authenticity, credibility, expertise, attractiveness. Now it is true that the hearer is the one who bestows trust and such upon the speaker. The hearer must believe the speaker to be trustworthy or credible. But the quality is something which is perceived to exist in the speaker.
The fact of trust, for instance, immediately creates a basis to receive the message from the speaker. If I trust you, I’ll listen to you.
The converse is thus obviously true, if I do not trust you, there is no reason to give you my attention. But what if I am merely ambivalent: I’ll give you a listen, but I don’t know that I would take advice from you. In that instance, the heuristic won’t act to shortcut the decision making. I’ll need to stick around.
Authenticity is the degree to which I will allow the current statement to be integrated with my I previously believed about you. I see a celebrity influencer speaking day after day about the greatness of this product. I have seen the celebrity tout this product for years and speak of personal use. I believe the celebrity actually uses this product. But then one day, the celebrity hawks a competing product. It doesn’t sound right to me Expertise: You have been my doctor for years; I trust everything you have told me about medicine. Then one day you begin to offer your opinions about macro-economic policy. How do I receive that? I could think you’re pretty smart. I could think, you’re a doctor, how to you think you can talk about economics.
Credibility. Do I believe you? Obviously if I do not I will not confer trust upon you. If you need an example, look to how your friends perceive the public statements of a politician from a disfavored political party. Attractiveness. This involves physical attractiveness, but is not limited to physical attractiveness. It is well known that jurors are more likely to believe physically attractive witnesses.
He also identifies two characteristics which are perceived to belong to listener: identification and expectations.
We in the end have a tribal default switch. When the speaker is someone I perceive to be like me, I’m more likely to believe that speaker. There is an observations among political consultants is that the winner is the one most people could imagine having over for a barbeque.
Finally, I’m only going to trust a speaker who says something which I could have potentially already believed. I come to a lecture and the person behind the podium beings to speak on and on about the hidden world inside the hollowed earth and how aliens and dinosaurs secretly live beneath us now. I am unlikely to grant much in the way of sympathy for the speaker’s views on anything else.
Terence (Terry) Flynn, Ph.D., You had me at hello: How personal, developmental and social characteristics influence communicator persuasiveness and effectiveness Research Journal of the Institute for Public Relations 1 Vol. 3, No. 1 (August, 2016), 1-11