The Art of Persuasion

Adapted from a case study written by Erik Coats and Robert S. Feldman in Feldman, R.S. & Regan, P.C. (1995). Social Psychology: Student Workbook with Case Studies. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.


This case study assignment requires that you apply the ideas presented in Chapter 7 of the textbook and lecture. Read the case study carefully and answer the five questions in detail. If you have any questions regarding this assignment please ask.

The Art of Persuasion

For decades, television advertisers have used celebrities to endorse their products. Despite being aware that celebrities are paid for their endorsement of products, viewers seem to forget that fact some time between watching an ad and making a purchase decision. Advertisers benefit from increased sales when a celebrity appears in an advertisement. Celebrities, however, don’t come cheap, they often demand high pay for endorsing a product.


Meanwhile, an advertiser for Chia hair tonic is trying to decide between two commercials for the product. The first commercial shows the TV star Pamela Anderson running down the beach, her long blond locks flowing behind her. A voice over says “Chia – Makes everyday like a day at the beach!”. The commercial looks great, but paying Anderson royalties every time it is broadcast will be expensive. Will the increase in sales make up for the cost of the ad?


The second commercial doesn’t have the pizzazz the first one has, but it is less expensive, and provides important information for consumers. The commercial shows a bottle of hair tonic in the background as text scrolls on the screen. The text describes results of clinical trials showing that Chia increases hair growth by 5%. Maybe some knowledge of social psychology can help the advertiser pick the most effective ad.


Identify and describe the two primary factors discussed in the text that affect the persuasiveness a source. Which of these two factors help celebrities to be persuasive in advertisements? Explain your answer.

\What is the sleeper effect? Why does it occur? How can this effect help explain the persuasiveness of celebrity endorsements? Explain your answer.

Describe the central route to persuasion. Under what set of circumstances will a person select the central route? Which of the advertisements above attempts to use the central route? Explain your answer.

Describe the peripheral route to persuasion. Under what circumstances will a person select the peripheral route? Which of the advertisements above attempts to use the peripheral route? Explain your answer.

What is self-monitoring? Describe high self-monitors and low self-monitors. How does self-monitoring affect individuals’ responses to advertisements? Which of the advertisements above would most appeal to a high self-monitor? Which ad would most appeal to a low self-monitor? Explain your answer. (The ads referred to are the one with Pamela Anderson and the one describing the clinical trials.)

The advertiser is also considering the use of a fear appeal to sell the hair tonic. Develop your own advertisement or commercial using a fear appeal. (Do not merely describe an ad or a commercial you have seen or heard about.) Describe your ad or commercial. Describe how you will create fear or a threat of danger. Describe how you will make the target audience fell vulnerable or susceptible to the threat. Finally, what reassuring advice on how to avoid the threat will your message contain?

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