Powerful and powerless language : an examination of its role as a peripheral cue

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Authors
Lasky, Benjamin M.
Advisor
Holtgraves, Thomas
Issue Date
1996
Keyword
Degree
Thesis (M.A.)
Department
Department of Psychological Science
Other Identifiers
Abstract

The purpose of this research was to examine the role of language in persuasion. In other words, are some language styles or variations more persuasive than others? Specifically, powerful and powerless language were studied. Powerless language contains hedges, hesitations, and tag questions. Powerful language does not contain these markers. The study involved having students listen to a message advocating comprehensive examinations for college seniors. Half the students participated in a simultaneous exercise while listening to the message to distract them from the central merits of the arguments. The remaining half simply listened to the message. Students then filled out questionnaires designed to measure their perceptions of the message and speaker. Regardless of whether subjects were distracted or not, those that heard the powerful language message were more positive towards the speaker than those that heard the powerless language message.

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