At the end of the course
- the student has a thorough understanding of theories within the field of communication and persuasion;
- the student can critically evaluate current (empirical and theoretical) research within this field;
- the student can relate different contributions in the field to each other and synthesize these contributions in a clear and coherent review of the literature.
Communication is often designed to influence people's beliefs, attitudes, and behaviour. It is employed in marketing and health contexts, but also by politicians, organizations, and governments. Some attempts are rather blatant, as in advertisements that use attractive visuals to increase message attention and increase persuasion via the peripheral route. In other contexts, more subtle factors determine persuasive outcomes. In this course, we will focus on the different means that can be employed to fuel the persuasion process. More specifically, we will focus on how individuals’ beliefs and attitudes can be influenced by narratives, but also through the artful use of language and images. We will focus on the cognitive and affective processes that are evoked by strategic choices in message design and how these thoughts and feelings may determine the outcome of the persuasion process. In other words: we will focus on the mechanisms of persuasion and how verbal and visual aspects of persuasive messages evoke and guide the persuasion process' outcome.
During the course, we will be reading the relevant literature on the issue. Students discuss and integrate the literature and apply the insights onto a concrete persuasive message in an in-class presentation. The final assignment is a literature review on one of the topics of the student's choosing.