Daniel J. O’Keefe
Owen L. Coon Professor
Department of Communication Studies
Northwestern University

Online lectures for undergraduate course in

persuasion theory and research





These are lectures from an undergraduate course at Northwestern University titled “Theories of Persuasion.” The broad purpose of the course was to provide students with a conceptual toolkit for thinking about how to craft effective persuasive messages across diverse circumstances.


The lectures were recorded in 2020 and 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The lecture list below includes links to the recorded lectures, the accompanying handouts (if any), and the “study guide” for the lecture. The study guide, posted after each lecture, consists of questions—not exam/quiz questions, but rather the kinds of questions a tutor might ask in a one-on-one encounter in order to lead a student through the material. The primary purpose of the study guides was to help students prepare for the exams; there was nothing on the exams that wasn’t in the study guides.





lecture 00:  Spring 2021 first day of class

            lecture 00

            handout 00


lecture 01:  concept of persuasion, concept of attitude, attitude measurement, assessing persuasion

            lecture 01

            handout 01

            study guide 01


lecture 02:  social judgment theory (part 1)

            lecture 02

            handout 02

            study guide 02


lecture 03:  social judgment theory (part 2)

            lecture 03

            handout 03

            study guide 03


lecture 04:  belief-based approaches to attitude

            lecture 04

            handout 04

            study guide 04


lecture 05:  functional approaches to attitude

            lecture 05

            handout 05

            study guide 05


lecture 06:  reasoned action theory (part 1)

            lecture 06

            handout 06

            study guide 06


lecture 07:  reasoned action theory (part 2)

            lecture 07

            handout 07

            study guide 07


lecture 08:  elaboration likelihood model

            lecture 08

            study guide 08


lecture 09:  balance theory

            lecture 09

            handout 09

            study guide 09


lecture 10:  dissonance theory (part 1)

            lecture 10

            study guide 10


lecture 11:  dissonance theory (part 2)

            lecture 11

            handout 11

            study guide 11


lecture 12:  source factors (part 1)

            lecture 12

            handout 12

            study guide 12


lecture 13:  source factors (part 2), message factors (part 1)

            lecture 13

            study guide 13


lecture 14:  message factors (part 2)

            lecture 14

            handout 14

            study guide 14


lecture 15:  message factors (part 3)

            lecture 15

            handout 15

            study guide 15


lecture 16:  receiver factors

            lecture 16

            handout 16

            study guide 16



Daniel J. O’Keefe home page
Department of Communication Studies
School of Communication
Northwestern University