Persuasion: Theory and Research

Daniel J. O'Keefe

Sage Publications' project titled "Current Communication: An Advanced Text Series" has proven to be a worthwhile undertaking judging from the published volumes in the series, Mediated Communication: A Social Action Perspective (by J. A. Anderson and T. P. Meyer) and Persuasion: Theory and Research (by D. J. O'Keefe). According to the series editor, Jesse G. Delia, "each volume in the series is a substantive, lucidly written book appropriate for use in advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate-level courses."

There are some advantages to O'Keefe's book not found in older, more traditional textbooks on the subject which both students and teachers of Communication Studies will enjoy. For one thing, the author, being a speech communication scholar and not a behavioural psychologist, discusses this complex subject in familiar terms with easy-to-understand examples. The book provides well-documented, expertly analyzed, and skilfully exemplified theories and research findings. This is of prime service to the beginning graduate student who will find well-defined theories of persuasion and insightful an alysis and evaluation of existing research methodologies in the field. The author has successfully managed to bridge the gap between the fields of psychology and communication insofar as persuasion is concerned, introducing the constructs, concepts, and variables interwoven in persuasion with familiar terms and nomenclature. Another benefit of this book over others dealing with persuasion is its organization of materials. Each chapter starts with a precise synopsis and a helpful outline of the specific topics and their subsequent subtopics making it an effective textbook.

The Introduction "provides some general background information bearing on the study of persuasive communication. The concepts of persuasion, the concept of attitude, and the various attitude measurement procedures are discussed." This is of primary importance to the beginning graduate student.

In Part II, Chapters 2 through 6--"Social Judgment Theory," "Information- Integration Models of Attitude," "Cognitive Dissonance Theory," "Theory of Reasoned Action," and "Elaboration Likelihood Model"--deal with five different theoretical approaches to understanding persuasive effects. They point out existing, relatively extensive research in the field and provide numerous applications to persuasion and social influence processes.

Part III (Chapters 7 through 11) discusses factors which influence persuasive effects organized around four groupings of influencing factors: Source Factors, Message Factors, Receiver and Contest Factors, and Attitudes and Actions. It is here that the reader will learn how skilfully O'Keefe has bridged the gap between the two fields of study, psychology and communication.

In Part IV, "Compliance-Gaining Message Production," the study of persuasion as presented in the preceding chapters is discussed and evaluated. The questions of how and why persuasive messages have the effects they do and how and why persuasion produces the social influence effects that it does are thoroughly discussed.

In addition to the informative endnotes accompanying each chapter, the book provides an extensive (over 840 entries) reference section covering the entire spectrum of theory and research in the field of persuasion.

This book is a well-written, scientifically documented, and informative text which should be very useful to students and teachers in Communication Studies.



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We wish to acknowledge the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for their financial support through theAid to Scholarly Journals Program.

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