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Resistance and Persuasion

Eric Knowles and Jay Linn
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

The psychologists in this volume want to make you an offer you can’t refuse. And as their research in persuasive tactics progresses, they may one day know exactly how to do it.

"Resistance and Persuasion" grew out of a symposium hosted by psychology professor Eric Knowles and his then-graduate student Jay Linn. It features papers from nationally renowned scholars of social influence on topics such as "Looking ahead as a technique to reduce resistance to persuasive attempts" and "Creating critical consumers: Motivating receptivity by teaching resistance."

As Knowles explains, social influence and, by extension, persuasion revolve around an approach-avoidance conflict – the opposing positive and negative reactions people feel when presented with an argument or appeal. Until now, most research has focused on the approach side of this phenomenon, aiming to win people over by heightening the attractive features of an offer.

But Knowles and his colleagues believe that addressing the avoidance side of the conflict can yield more successful and satisfying results. Rather than overcoming an audience’s resistance to a message by adding enticements or arguments, these researchers have devised tactics that reduce or remove resistance altogether.