Communication Studies 205-0
Theories of Persuasion
Professor: Daniel O’Keefe
Office: 1-148 Frances Searle
Office hours: 9-10 MW, 1:00-3:00 M, & by appt.
Office phone: 847.491.3581
www.soc.northwestern.edu/dokeefe or www.dokeefe.net
Assistants: Kaitlyn Childs
Office: 1-305 Frances Searle Office hours: by appt.
Office: 2-101 Frances Searle Office hours: by appt.
Course site: www.dokeefe.net/205F18.html or via www.soc.northwestern.edu/dokeefe
Text (supplementary): D. O’Keefe, Persuasion: Theory and research (3rd ed., paperback, Sage) (ISBN 978-1-4522-7667-0) (one copy available at the Library Reserve Room)
Brief course description and tentative outline: This course provides a general introduction to the social-scientific study of persuasive communication. The course focuses on alternative theoretical accounts of the processes underlying persuasion and on research findings concerning the effects of various factors on persuasive effectiveness.
II. Theoretical approaches
A. Social judgment theory
B. Belief-based models
C. Functional approaches
D. Reasoned action theory
E. Elaboration likelihood model
F. Consistency theories
III. Factors influencing persuasive effectiveness
A. Source factors
B. Message factors
C. Receiver factors
One’s course grade is based on two hourly examinations and a final examination. The examinations cover material presented in lecture and discussion sections. The hourly exams are multiple-choice exams; the first counts for 35% of the course grade, the second for 30%. The final exam is a take-home essay exam; the final exam counts for 35% of the course grade.
It is assumed that examinations will be completed when required. In cases of medical or family emergency, notify Professor O’Keefe at the earliest possible time. Absent an appropriate rationale, a missed examination will receive a failing grade (F).
One’s course grade will be determined by the weighted average of the grades on the individual assignments. Each assignment will receive a letter grade, with the usual numerical equivalents (that is, A = 4.0, A- = 3.7, B+ = 3.3, and so forth).
So, for example, a student who received a B on the first exam, an A- on the second exam, and an A on the final exam would have a course average of 3.56.
(3.0 x .35) + (3.7 x .30) + (4.0 x .35) = 3.56
To convert the course average into a course grade, the following scale will apply:
course average course grade
3.850 and up A
3.500 and up A-
3.150 and up B+
2.850 and up B
2.500 and up B-
2.150 and up C+
1.850 and up C
1.350 and up C-
0.500 and up D
below 0.500 F
So a student with a course average of 3.56 would receive a course grade of A-.
However, before course grades are submitted, the raw scores on the hourly exams are reviewed. If the circumstance is such that having answered correctly just one additional question on just one hourly exam would have yielded a higher course grade, then the higher course grade is given.
Don’t do it. (If uncertain about what constitutes a violation of Northwestern University’s standards of academic integrity, consult the University web site, e.g., https://www.northwestern.edu/provost/policies/academic-integrity/.)
Bad things will happen if you do. (These can include a failing grade on the assignment—and worse. Again, see the University web site. For details on School of Communication procedures: https://communication.northwestern.edu/advising/academic_integrity.)
Don’t do it, and don’t accept it being done. (For more information: www.northwestern.edu/sexual-harassment.)
Accommodations for disabilities:
Any student requesting accommodations related to a disability or other condition is required to register with AccessibleNU (firstname.lastname@example.org; 847-467-5530) and provide professors with an accommodation notification from AccessibleNU, preferably within the first two weeks of class. All information will remain confidential. For details: www.northwestern.edu/accessiblenu/
Some tentative dates of interest:
Hourly exam #1: Wednesday 31 October
Hourly exam #2: Monday 3 December
Take-home final available online: not later than 5:00 p.m. Monday 3 December
Take-home final due: not later than noon Monday 10 December
Week of 1 October
topic: concept of persuasion, attitude measurement, assessing persuasion
supplementary reading: pp. 1-18
Week of 8 October
topic: social judgment theory, belief-based models
supplementary reading: pp. 19-34 (social judgment); pp. 56-75 (belief-based)
Week of 15 October
topic: belief-based models (continued), functional approaches
supplementary reading: pp. 56-75 (belief-based); pp. 35-55 (functional)
Week of 22 October
topic: reasoned action theory, elaboration likelihood model
supplementary reading: pp. 98-131 (RAT); pp. 148-175 (ELM)
Week of 29 October
topic: elaboration likelihood model (continued)
supplementary reading: pp. 148-175
Wednesday 31 October: hourly exam #1
discussion sections do meet as usual Friday 2 November
Week of 5 November
topic: consistency theories
supplementary reading: pp. 76-97
Week of 12 November
topic: source factors
supplementary reading: pp. 188-213
Week of 19 November
topic: message factors
supplementary reading: pp. 214-251
no class meeting Wednesday 21 November
Week of 26 November
topic: receiver factors
supplementary reading: pp. 252-267
Week of 3 December
Monday 3 December: hourly exam #2
Monday 3 December: final exam available online by 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday 5 December: final exam (hard-copy) available at lecture
Friday 7 December: no class meeting
Monday 10 December: final exam due by noon