AskDefine | Define persuasive

Dictionary Definition

persuasive adj
1 tending or intended or having the power to induce action or belief; "persuasive eloquence"; "a most persuasive speaker" [ant: dissuasive]
2 capable of convincing; "a persuasive argument"; "the evidence is persuasive but not conclusive"

User Contributed Dictionary







  1. Feminine plural form of persuasivo

Extensive Definition

Persuasion is a form of social influence. It is the process of guiding people toward the adoption of an idea, attitude, or action by rational and symbolic (though not always logical) means. It is strategy of problem-solving relying on "appeals" rather than strength.
Manipulation is taking persuasion to an extreme, where the one person or group benefits at the cost of the other.
Aristotle said that "Rhetoric is the art of discovering, in a particular case, the available means of persuasion."

Principles of persuasion

According to Robert Cialdini in his book on persuasion, he defined six "weapons of influence":
  • Reciprocation - People tend to return a favor. Thus, the pervasiveness of free samples in marketing. In his conferences, he often uses the example of Ethiopia providing thousands of dollars in humanitarian aid to Mexico just after the 1985 earthquake, despite Ethiopia suffering from a crippling famine and civil war at the time. Ethiopia had been reciprocating for the diplomatic support Mexico provided when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1937.
  • Commitment and Consistency - If people commit, verbally or in writing, they are more likely to honor that commitment. Even if the original incentive or motivation is removed after they have already agreed, they will continue to honor the agreement. For example, in car sales, suddenly raising the price at the last moment works because the buyer has already decided to buy. See cognitive dissonance.
  • Social Proof - People will do things that they see other people are doing. For example, in one experiment, one or more confederates would look up into the sky; bystanders would then look up into the sky to see what they were seeing. At one point this experiment aborted, as so many people were looking up that they stopped traffic. See conformity, and the Asch conformity experiments.
  • Authority - People will tend to obey authority figures, even if they are asked to perform objectionable acts. Cialdini cites incidents, such as the Milgram experiments in the early 1960s and the My Lai massacre.
  • Liking - People are easily persuaded by other people whom they like. Cialdini cites the marketing of Tupperware in what might now be called viral marketing. People were more likely to buy if they liked the person selling it to them. Some of the many biases favoring more attractive people are discussed. See physical attractiveness stereotype.
  • Scarcity - Perceived scarcity will generate demand. For example, saying offers are available for a "limited time only" encourages sales.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Propaganda is also closely related to Persuasion. Its a concerted set of messages aimed at influencing the opinions or behavior of large numbers of people. Instead of impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense presents information in order to influence its audience. The most effective propaganda is often completely truthful, but some propaganda presents facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis, or gives loaded messages in order to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the cognitive narrative of the subject in the target audience. The term 'propaganda' first appeared in 1622 when Pope Gregory XV established the Sacred Congregation for Propagating the Faith. Propaganda was then as now about convincing large numbers of people about the veracity of a given set of ideas. Propaganda is as old as people, politics and religion. Wars have always been a good reason for governments wanting to persuade populaces of the justness of their cause as well as hide the horrors and failures of the front line. Misinformation and disinformation are widely used to distract people.

Methods of persuasion

By appeal to reason:
Aids to persuasion:
Other techniques, which may or may not work:
Coercive techniques, some of which are highly controversial and/or not scientifically proven to be effective:
Systems of persuasion for the purpose of seduction:


  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Dr Robert Cialdini (ISBN 0-688-12816-5)
  • The Psychology of Persuasion: How to Persuade Others to Your Way of Thinking. Kevin Hogan (ISBN 978-1565541467)
  • Persuasion: Messages, Receivers, and Contexts. Dr William Rogers (ISBN 0-7425-3674-2)
  • Propaganda and Persuasion (4th edition). Drs. Garth Jowett and Victoria O'Donnell. (ISBN 978-412908979)
  • Persuasion: Theory and Research. Daniel O'Keefe. (ISBN 978-0761922001)
  • The Persuasion Handbook: Developments in Theory and Practice. James Price Dillard and Michael Pfau. (ISBN 978-07619269)


persuasive in German: Überzeugung
persuasive in French: Persuasion
persuasive in Polish: Perswazje
persuasive in Romanian: Persuasiune
persuasive in Simple English: Persuasion
persuasive in Turkish: İkna
persuasive in Ukrainian: Переконання

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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