When British Airways announced in that they would no longer be operating the twice daily London—New York Concorde flight because it had become uneconomical to run, sales the very next day took off. Notice that nothing had changed about the Concorde itself.
It had simply become a scarce resource. And as a result, people wanted it more. So when it comes to effectively persuading others using the Scarcity Principle, the science is clear. Physiotherapists, for example, are able to persuade more of their patients to comply with recommended exercise programs if they display their medical diplomas on the walls of their consulting rooms.
The Principles of Influence
People are more likely to give change for a parking meter to a complete stranger if that requester wears a uniform rather than casual clothes. Of course this can present problems; you can hardly go around telling potential customers how brilliant you are, but you can certainly arrange for someone to do it for you.
Not bad for a small change in form from persuasion science that was both ethical and costless to implement. Consistency is activated by looking for, and asking for, small initial commitments that can be made.
Persuasion (novel) - Wikipedia
In one famous set of studies, researchers found rather unsurprisingly that very few people would be willing to erect an unsightly wooden board on their front lawn to support a Drive Safely campaign in their neighborhood. However in a similar neighborhood close by, four times as many homeowners indicated that they would be willing to erect this unsightly billboard. Because ten days previously, they had agreed to place a small postcard in the front window of their homes that signaled their support for a Drive Safely campaign.
So when seeking to influence using the consistency principle, the detective of influence looks for voluntary, active, and public commitments and ideally gets those commitments in writing. But what causes one person to like another? Persuasion science tells us that there are three important factors. We like people who are similar to us, we like people who pay us compliments, and we like people who cooperate with us towards mutual goals. Get straight down to business. Identify a similarity you share in common then begin negotiating.
In fact, the earliest research on the theory in the s involved health issues to build empirical support for tenets in the inoculation framework. Over the ensuing decades, scholars have further examined the effectiveness of inoculation-based messages at creating robust positive health attitudes. We overview these efforts, highlight the structure of typical inoculation-based health messages, and describe the similarities and differences between this method of counter-persuasion and other preparatory techniques commonly employed by health researchers and practitioners.
Finally, we consider contexts in which inoculation-oriented health messages could be most useful, and describe how the health domain could offer a useful scaffold to study conceptual issues of the theory. Health promotion practitioners aim to create both positive and resistant attitudes toward desirable health behaviors e. Ajzen, , and resistant to protect these positive attitudes against challenges. Indeed, healthy attitudes and behaviors are often in danger of slippage due to exposure to social, media, and peer-group factors e.
Fortunately, theory, research, and anecdotal reports have provided health practitioners with assistance in their efforts to create more resistant positive health-related attitudes. One particularly strong candidate for such theory-guided efforts is inoculation theory —a theory that has been studied and applied in health communication, but also a theory that has, to date, not reached its fullest potential. We hope to contribute to ongoing and future work with health and inoculation theory by proposing new applied and theoretical areas for this important scholarship—work that pushes forward our understanding of persuasion and has applied value as a health messaging strategy to help combat serious threats to healthy living.
At the core of inoculation theory McGuire, a , b is a biological metaphor. McGuire suggested that attitudes could be inoculated against persuasive attacks in much the same way that one's immune system can be inoculated against viral attacks. In medical immunization, weakened forms of viruses are injected into the body, and the body then reacts to this injection e.
McGuire contended that by exposing individuals to a persuasive message that contains weakened arguments against an established attitude e. Inoculation messages involve two primary components that foster attitudinal resistance among recipients: threat and refutational preemption but see Banas and Rains, , regarding the importance of threat.
Threat refers to recognition by message recipients that their existing position on an issue is vulnerable; it functions as a motivating force for a protective response McGuire, One way to elicit threat although not the only way, see Compton, is through forewarning—a direct, explicit warning that one's position on a topic is susceptible to change McGuire and Papageorgis, The second feature of an attitudinal inoculation treatment is refutational preemption.
Thus, a conventional inoculation message begins with a forewarning of impending challenges to a held position, then raises and refutes some possible challenges that might be raised by opponents. For example, an inoculation message designed to discourage teen cigarette smoking e. This inoculation format can be adapted to a number of issues, so long as 1 the intended attitude or position is already in place with message recipients, and 2 message designers are aware of some counterarguments that might be employed in attack messages in order to provide weakened, or refuted, counterarguments in the inoculation treatment message see Ivanov, , for more information on message design.
Interestingly and importantly, as part of refutational preemption, message designers do not need to raise and refute every potential future counterargument to be successful Pfau, As originally argued by McGuire and confirmed by a meta-analysis of inoculation theory studies Banas and Rains, , both refutational different i.
Note, too, that inoculation research has indicated a number of characteristics that make inoculation messages more effective at conferring resistance, including perceived credibility of the inoculation message source An and Pfau, and message language that frames future attacks as threats to freedom Miller et al. Clearly, inoculation treatments involve dynamic, powerful processes that ultimately lead to resistance to influence. But how do these treatments differ to other commonly employed techniques among health psychologists and practitioners? Those well versed in health promotion techniques will likely, by this point, have considered potential overlap between components in inoculation messaging and those in implementation intention programs.
Implementation intentions are designed to link anticipated situations to goal-directed responses i. That said, methods for attitudinal inoculation differ from implementation intention programs. With attitudinal inoculation, treatments almost always contain a forewarning, specific counterarguments, and refutations of those counterarguments. In the case of implementation intention planning, however, the onus is on recipients to recognize their potential vulnerability to future challenges and to develop their own responses.
It is also worth considering the differences between treatments for attitudinal inoculation and those for stress inoculation, which are cognitive behavioral approaches to stress management Meichenbaum and Deffenbacher, Stress inoculation involves an ongoing program between client and trainer involving three interactive phases—a conceptual educational phase, a skill acquisition and consolidation phase, and an application and follow-through phase Meichenbaum and Deffenbacher, Although inoculation can function in interpersonal context and recent evidence suggests that inoculation messages motivate talk about the target issue, e.
Inoculation is also suitable in situations where extended involvement with recipients is impractical or not possible. The unique features of treatments based on inoculation theory make them ideal for use with a range of specific health problems, and they are likely to have utility beyond other commonly employed techniques used by health promotion practitioners. Some of these uses have been explored for their effectiveness already, and we detail some of these applications in the section below see Table 1. Other health-related problems that seem ideal to treat with campaigns based on inoculation theory remain un- or under-explored.
Health is an especially robust area for inoculation research. A wide variety of issues fit within the theory's boundary conditions e. The stakes, too, are high, affecting the well being of children and adults. McGuire's early scholarship on inoculation theory assessed inoculation's efficacy with what he called cultural truisms , beliefs that were accepted without question, including the benefits of brushing one's teeth and the benefits of penicillin McGuire, The data for these early health topics, however, were often aggregated see Table 1 , meaning that the effectiveness of the treatments on individual health issues was not focused upon.
In the early stages of scholarship on inoculation theory, then, attention was directed toward theoretical advancement rather than application of the theory to health. It was not until some decades later—the s—when researchers fully focused on the potential for this theory to guide health promotion. In , Pfau, Van Bockern, and Kang assessed inoculation's efficacy in conferring resistance to pressures to smoke cigarettes among seventh grade students in the United States.
The authors found that their inoculation treatment promoted resistance to smoking onset, but only among adolescents with low self-esteem. Later, Pfau and Van Bockern revisited the issue of adolescent smoking by following up on the student cohort that was inoculated during their earlier study. They explored whether inoculation's effects continued up to 84 weeks after the initial inoculation videos were shown.
Analyses revealed no sustained impact on behavioral intentions to avoid smoking, but there was evidence of some lasting effects of the inoculation treatments on attitudes toward smoking. The early findings were, indeed, good evidence for inoculation's promise as a health promotion strategy. Over the subsequent decades, research has burgeoned on the application of inoculation theory to health-related issues.
Godbold and Pfau , for instance, conducted the first adolescent anti-alcohol study based on inoculation theory, providing evidence that normative-oriented inoculation messages are particularly effective in this context.
More recently, Cornelis et al. Cornelis et al. Interestingly, Parker et al. Their findings illustrate the umbrella protection that inoculation may offer with respect to related health concerns see also Wong and Harrison, Inoculation scholars have confirmed that inoculation can encourage adoption of healthier behaviors, including getting vaccines e. The promise that Pfau and his colleagues saw from their early work is being borne out in exciting, important ways in the health context. And yet, other health areas have seen little attention with inoculation research.
We consider some of these next.