An annotated collection of more than 5000 links to resources and ideas for the teaching of social psychology and related courses organized by topic





Attitudes & Behavior

Attraction & Relationships

Conflict & Peacemaking


Genes, Gender, & Culture

Group Influence





Psychology in the Courtroom

Social Beliefs & Judgments

The Self






Activities and Exercises



Multimedia Resources (audio, video)

Topic Resources


Class Assignments

Articles, Books, and Book Chapters

= new link as of December 1, 2023

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Activities and Exercises

Fall for scams - David Myers suggests some discussion points around this interesting Current Directions article.

A quiz on pre-suasion - See how you do.  From Robert Cialdini -- lots of material for discussion in class

Does Trump simply share attitudes or also amplify them? - This good question is asked by David Myers.  It is framed well to serve as a discussion starter in your classes.

When does repetition of misinformation become fact? - A good discussion of this question along with some class activities -- by the way, Russia has a larger surface area than Pluto.

"How effective are you at influencing customers?" - Here is a good article from subscriber Robert Cialdini which describes techniques he refers to as pre-suasion.  Several scenarios illustrating these ideas are included that can be used with students.

How does the color red/yellow/green/etc. affect us? - This Teaching High School Psychology blog points to an infographic on the web suggesting that certain colors used by marketers/advertisers mean and influence certain things. But is it legitimate? Does research back up these claims? Sounds like a good project for your students. Have them investigate a color! [4/1/13]

New Cheerios! - A lot of variations of this your students could try. [added 6/19/10]

Teaching persuasion through fundraising - This 75-minute activity from Debra Mashek teaches students "about the effectiveness of persuasion strategies while helping victims of a major natural disaster." This activity was awarded an honorable mention in the inaugural Action Teaching Award program from the Social Psychology Network. [added 4/7/06]

Spot the fake smile - an online activity from the BBC [added 1/10/06]

A field exercise - Robert Levine passed along this link to a Teaching of Psychology article written by Levine, Nathanael Fast, and Philip Zimbardo describing a very engaging exercise for students. "The assignment requires students to set themselves up as targets of a professional salesperson or other persuasion expert and to analyze their experiences using fundamental social psychological concepts." Good stuff! [added 3/3/05]

Facial expressions - Fun and interesting site at which you can manipulate facial expressions of a computer-animated character beginning with any of the eight universal emotional expressions [added 12/1/04]

Multimedia Resources (Audio / Video)


"The psychology of political messaging" (41:42) - A podcast interviewing Drew Westen

Influence is your superpower (51:11) - "In this episode of the podcast, Dr. Ryan Moyer speaks with author and marketing professor, Dr. Zoe Chance about influence and her new book,Influence Is Your Superpower. They discuss how to influence without manipulating, if authenticity is necessary to be persuasive, why feelings must come before facts, and the importance of kindness & persistence when being influential."

Westboro Baptist Church - Part 1 (52:58) - On a podcast from Jay Van Bavel, a woman talks about growing up in the Westboro Baptist Church.

Westboro Baptist Church - Part 2 (1:03:21)

The psychology of conspiracy theories (25:09) - Here is a conversation with Karen Douglas and Michael Shermer. Here is a link to a brief interview with Karen Douglas. [added 1/21/12]

Neuroscience and influence - Here is an interesting podcast from BBC Radio about neuroscience research "asking if new knowledge about the human brain will allow us to make better choices or leave us open to ever more manipulation." [added 1/21/12]

"Design of desire" - A few podcasts from American RadioWorks on research on attempts to get us to buy stuff. I love stuff! [added 4/28/08]



 1935 car ad [6:35] - Yes, this ad runs more than six minutes. A lot to analyze here. It could be its own test question!

 Buschhhhhhhhh - This old Busch beer ad introduced during the Super Bowl and its follow up ads (e.g., oversharing, last word, indecision) capture a number of principles well such as humor, repetition, and the peripheral route.

Drug war propaganda over the years - good examples of anti-drug ads [added 12/16/13]

Vintage TV ads - "AdViews is a digital archive of thousands of vintage television commercials dating from the 1950s to the 1980s. These commercials were created or collected by the ad agency Benton & Bowles or its successor, D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B)." [added 8/15/13]

Every infomercial ever - [0:55] [added 12/07/12]

Vintage television commercials - Lots of old tv commercials, but they can only be viewed in iTunes. [added 7/25/10]

Presidential Ads from 1952-2004 - Even more impressive is this site providing video of campaign ads stretching back 50 years, and the site will be updated soon to include more recent ads. "Presented by the American Museum of the Moving Image in cooperation with the Political Communication Center, University of Oklahoma." [added 6/15/04]

Public service announcements - This excellent resource provides a history of many of the public service announcements from the Ad Council over the last 60 years. It includes lots of images and some video. Remember the "Crying Indian" television ad? Watch it here. [added 4/5/04]

Propaganda analysis - at the Institute for Propaganda Analysis - includes descriptions and examples of common techniques and some examples of propaganda, including some video examples

Convincing an audience to try something "new" (4:16) - Robert Cialdini describes how principles of influence can be applied to messages proposing something new. He uses an excellent case study from Bose Acoustics.

How to sell upgrades or additions to a product (3:11) - Another Cialdini example of applying principles of persuasion

Applying commitment and consistency to a non-profit (3:38) - Another example of applying Cialdini's principles

Cialdini presentations - Three slideshows from Robert Cialdini -- Getting to Yes, How Price is Influence, and How to Boost Social Proof. Here are the second and third presentations.

Discrediting the messenger to discredit the message (7:28) - excellent video from a climate scientist addressing many of the myths about and attacks on climate science

Rational vs. emotional appeal (1:47) - a good example

Fear appeals - from Steven Ross' YouTube channel

Cialdini Asks and Asks and Asks - a few videos from subscriber Robert Cialdini in which he interviews psychology researchers

More videos from Robert Cialdini

Noba Project video winners - As you may remember, the Noba Project has recently started conducting annual student video award contests for brief clips illustrating psychlogical principles.  This year's theme was Social Influence.  Here are the winners.  You can also read about how your students can enter next year's contest. [added 6/17/15]

Elaboration Likelihood Model - [1:50] Michael Britt created this nice, brief summary of the model. I am also mentioning it because Michael used an interesting tool,, to create the animated video. The tool costs money, but it appears fairly easy to learn and use. [added 8/15/13]

Consumer behavior and marketing video clips - quite a good collection [added 8/15/13]

I just shipped my pants - [0:35] If you haven't seen this ad yet, I'm sorry to be the one to corrupt you. Oh, it's funny, but does this humor actually work? [added 8/15/13]

Cialdini's principles - [11:50] I am very happy to see this new video from Robert Cialdini and Steve Martin. I usually would take a little class time to review the principles and then give students some time to apply them. Now, I can assign my students to view this excellent description of the principles from the author himself before class and spend class time more on their applications and connections to other ideas. Thank you, Robert and Steve. [added 12/07/12]

Robert Cialdini discusses influences on his research [1:00] [added 1/20/12]

Airbrushed ad banned in UK - (0:48) Apparently Julia Roberts and supermodel Christy Turlington looked too good in the ad. [added 1/20/12]

Credibility of the source - (2:28) I'm not clever enough to think of a good April Fool's Day prank to pull on you, but I share this one from 1957 by the BBC. "The fake footage was aired as a joke, but viewers called in to find out how they could grow their own spaghetti trees. Instead of coming clean, the BBC cheekily replied, "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best." [added 4/25/11]

Life as a Moonie - (6:57) In an interesting TED talk, Diane Benscoter describes her five years as a member of a cult, how it affected her, and how this all connects to extreme movements. [added 1/15/10]

Unconscious priming of ad designers - (6:48) Apparently, Derren Brown has a TV show in the UK in which he illustrates a number of psychological phenomenon. Many of these are available on YouTube and are quite fascinating. In this episode Brown tricks two advertising designers into creating an advertising poster through unconscious priming that is eerily similar to one Brown created ahead of time. [added 1/15/10]

Fear appeal - (4:16) Embedded in this story about using scare tactics to discourage teens from texting and driving is such a video public service announcement. [added 1/14/10]

The peripheral route - (0:30) "In ads, banks try the warm, cozy approach." [added 7/5/09]

Fear appeal - (1:11) video courtesy of U.S. Republican Senators [added 7/5/09]

How cults work - (10:47) [3/29/09]

"Cults: Dangerous devotion" - (1:29:58) A History Channel program on cults [3/29/09]

Don't Vote - (4:45) This would be an interesting video for your students to analyze in terms of persuasion techniques. [3/26/09]

Creating a good feeling - Remember way back in 1985 when Ford Aerostar tried to generate good feelings and an aura of technologically-advanced aerodynamics about its minivan by comparing it to the Space Shuttle? Well, unfortunately, shortly after that a Space Shuttle exploded and the campaign was pulled. Not quite the association they were after. First link is to a print ad for that campaign; here is a link is to an article mentioning the campaign was pulled; here is a tv commercial for that campaign. [added 4/11/08]

Principles of persuasion in advertising - (3:49) Robert Cialdini describes several of the principles of persuasion he has identified as most effective. [added 7/14/07]

The Persuaders - Did you get a chance to see this excellent PBS show on how marketers and politicians figure out how to persuade us? If not, you are in luck. The entire episode is available for viewing online at the above link. Definitely worth seeing. As with many PBS shows now, the streaming video is broken up into segments for easy display in the classroom. [added 12/1/04]


Class Assignments


Create a cult - Generously shared by Phil Nelson:  “I taught Social Psychology for the first time last year and wanted a fun way to learn persuasive techniques so I created an assignment where the students broke up into groups of 4-6 students and created a cult and whoever used the most effective persuasive techniques (both in quantity and effectiveness) “won” and would get a few bonus points on their exam. I gave about 20 min. for discussion in class and then students met outside of class on average for 30-60 min. The students reported this being their favorite activity and they aced these questions on the exam and final that covered this content area, so it seemed to be an effective learning tool. Students were allowed 4-5 min. to present their cult (most used props and PowerPoint). I had 22 in this class so it was on the smaller side, which was helpful. I also had each student fill out the rubric for each group so they could see what persuasive techniques were being utilized so it was an active learning process.”  The link is to the rubric (in Excel) he uses for the assignment.  Thanks, Phil.

Using Principles of Social Influence to Create Prosocial Change - This project also won honorable mention for the 2013 Social Psychology Network Action Teaching Award. "In this action teaching assignment, students begin by learning about six key principles of social influence from Robert Cialdini's book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion: (1) commitment and consistency, (2) social proof, (3) liking, (4) reciprocation, (5) authority, and (6) scarcity. The class then selects a social problem of concern and develops a "social change project" that applies social influence principles to creatively and effectively address the problem. In one case, for example, students raised over $2,000 for a United Nations anti-malaria program and generated 200 postcards sent to the White House urging the government to stand by its pledge to end malaria by 2015. In another case, students invited a survivor of human trafficking to speak on campus -- an event that drew over 300 students, faculty, staff, and community members and helped raise $540 for anti-trafficking organizations. Other social change projects included raising more than $1,000 to buy prosthetic limbs for landmine victims, soliciting nearly $2,000 for Pakistan flood relief, netting over $1,300 for Japanese tsunami relief, and, closer to home, securing free meals for local senior citizens. These projects served to show students how social influence techniques can be used as prosocial influence techniques." [added 8/15/13]

Paper Assignments

Two persuasion assignments - Heather Coon, a colleague of mine, adapted a couple assignments to create these two good examples in her Persuasion seminar. In the first assignment students analyze a set of ads in terms of course concepts. Heather points them to some good sources of ads online. The second assignment asks students to design a persuasion campaign for some social, political, or public service topic. The second assignment also requires an oral presentation of the campaign. [added 7/6/06]

Internet-based persuasion assignment - Students visit and critique the site's effectiveness at persuading visitors to not smoke. Created by Scott Plous. [added 7/6/06]

Election persuasion paper - Jennifer Harman has created a very timely persuasion assignment in which students analyze U.S. presidential candidates' speechesor debates to look for persuasive techniques. [added 10/9/08]

Persuasion/stereotyping - students choose between applying concepts to recruiting new students or to analyzing a group's stereotype



Reciprocity - Remember going into Hickory Farms stores in the mall?

Saying-is-believing effect - If you say you like a random person will you actually like that person more? How do you like this issue so far? Come on, you can tell me. [added 6/18/12]

Anti-Arab/Muslim propaganda - very disturbing cartoon in the New York Post [added 6/18/12]

Cialdini's cues - Like it has been mentioned quite a few times, I am a Resident Assistant on a first-year all female floor. As we were learning about Cialdini’s cues, I quickly realized how many I have used on my residents to get them to come to the programs that I develop and host. Cialdini’s cues are generally used to persuade people to do something, so in this case they are definitely something that I should acknowledge and perhaps utilize even more than I already do. Times that I have used these cues include when I told them that there would be a lot of people attending this program (comparison-other people are doing it so I should too) and that if they were in the first fifty girls to register (commitment-they must physically sign up and so will want to stick with it) then they would receive a free t-shirt (reciprocity-if they come for me, I will get them a t-shirt). Furthermore, the program included a ton of fun stuff but one of the selling points was that we were going to have a doctor there and the girls had the chance to ask anything that was on their minds (authority). [added 4/16/08]

Principle of social proof - "Actors paid to line up for iPhone launch" -- see, everyone wants this one! [added 9/20/08]

The yo-yo trap - an example of low-balling [added 3/30/04]

Source Variables

Source credibility - John Oliver has a humorous take on Dr. Oz and nutrition supplements. [added 6/17/15]

Credible sources - Apparently consumers like Samuel L. Jackson and Zooey Deschanel in the Apple iPhone ads. [added 6/20/12]

Not questioning credentials of the source - Sam Sommers discusses another fascinating case, this one of William Hamman, a pilot who gave medical seminars under the pretense he was a cardiologist. Nobody questioned it. Except his five-year old daughter. Sorry, I just made up that last bit. [4/9/11]

Opinion leaders - Study finds that opinion leaders among physician social networks influence which drugs are prescribed. [added 7/8/07]

Attractiveness - North Central College uses the "attractive" idea to persuade people to attend the college. While going to class on a couple of days, I remember seeing a photographer on campus taking pictures of two or three attractive young students. I instantly thought of the course catalogue. The young people on the cover will help emphasize the stereotype of the student's physical appearance: happy, intelligent, kind, sociable and successful.

Message Variables

Repetition - Trump is right: Many people were not that worked up about transgender issues until they were attacked repeatedly in the last few years. [added 1/14/10]

Fear appeal - An article about the new, more graphic images to be placed on cigarette packages in the U.S. -- do your students think they will work? [added 8/17/11]

Fear appeal - Embedded in this story about using scare tactics to discourage teens from texting and driving is such a video public service announcement. [added 1/14/10]

Fear appeal - Video courtesy of U.S. Republican Senators [added 7/5/09]

Fear appeal - I remember, especially, in high school, maybe once a year we would take a couple of days to talk about sex and how to have safe sex and the dangers of it. They would set up whole PowerPoint presentations and such. They would present a big section on STD's and AIDS with extremely graphic photos and stress how we do not have a cure and they are easy to spread. For a time everyone was so disgusted and feared that they would get one. Everyone was saying "Man, I'm not gonna even kiss anyone!" or "Before I ever do anyone, I will have my partner tested first!" The fear was heavily instilled in everyone at that point. But then kids started going to lunch and joking with their friends, went to another class, or worked on some homework, and I guarantee by the end of that day even some had forgotten or at least the initial fear had decreased significantly. [added 4/16/08]

The peripheral route - "In ads, banks try the warm, cozy approach." [added 7/5/09]

Creating a good feeling - Remember way back in 1985 when Ford Aerostar tried to generate good feelings and an aura of technologically-advanced aerodynamics about its minivan by comparing it to the Space Shuttle? Well, unfortunately, shortly after that a Space Shuttle exploded and the campaign was pulled. Not quite the association they were after. First link is to a print ad for that campaign; here is a link is to an article mentioning the campaign was pulled; here is a tv commercial for that campaign. [added 4/11/08]

Exposure Effect - As I was driving to work, I was singing along with a Patsy Cline cassette that my husband had left in the cassette player. I am reminded of how my taste in music has changed since I was young. When Bruce and I started dating, WCFL and WLS were THE rock stations. That was the only music I listened to. When Bruce said he liked country music -- Eddy Arnold, The Statler Brothers, etc., I knew we were from two different worlds. I had an open mind. If that's what he liked, it was his problem. After we married, I bought my contemporary pop music, he bought country music. We both played our music we liked. In the car we took turns with selections. After a few years, I developed a liking for the smooth male country singers, while still disliking the twangy country music and any female country singer's music. As you'd expect, I developed a taste for the twangy stuff too. Today, I'm bellowing along with Patsy Cline. It is obvious the exposure effect brought me over to country music gradually. No one forced me to listen to it nor even tried to make me like it. However, the occasional music being heard over the years influenced my attitude toward music so that today "country" music is my favorite with "easy-listening" a close second.

Two-sided Appeals - My nine-year-old daughter "mailed" me a letter yesterday. As a homework assignment, each child had to write a letter to their parents. The purpose of the letter was to persuade their parents to allow the child to buy the item that he was requesting. Their teacher had covered the two-sided argument in class. My daughter's letter requested a pet. In it she listed one by one all the counter arguments that I have expressed over the months. After each of my counter arguments, she presented her logical argument to negate my side. Needless to say that I'm impressed. She did an excellent job. Now I'm on the spot. It's either produce the pet or produce new counter arguments!

Cults - "Scientologists descend on Minneapolis collapse site." [added 9/23/07]

"Father Cares: The Last of Jonestown" - "On November 18, 1978, 913 men, women, and children --followers of cult leader Jim Jones -- died during a mass suicide and murder in Jonestown, Guyana. In the months preceding the tragedy, Jim Jones and his People’s Temple followers recorded their thoughts, their problems and their aspirations. The hundreds of hours of audiotape form the basis of the NPR documentary Father Cares: The Last of Jonestown." (From You can hear the entire 90-minute audiotape at NPR Online. Contributed by Jim Bell. [added 4/28/02]

Japanese Cults - brief article on the rise of Japanese cults

Topic Resources


War Propaganda

"Hollywood goes to war" - View these exhibits and materials about Hollywood during WWII, including some of  the propaganda that came out of Hollywood.

World War II Posters - a collection of 338 posters used by the U.S. government to promote support for war efforts

WWI/WWII propaganda posters - from the Brandeis Institutional Repository at Brandeis University [added 8/15/13]

World War II poster collection - [added 1/1/13]

Propaganda targeting sexual insecurities during wartime - What is "your girl" doing that you left behind? Interesting archive of propaganda efforts. [6/20/08]

"Propaganda: A weapon of war" - a collection of WWII propaganda from the National Library of Scotland -- it makes a distinction between and presents examples of "black propaganda" (intended to demoralize the enemy) and "white propaganda" (intended to inform and boost morale of the homefront). [added 12/26/06]

Propaganda posters from WWI - from the George F. Tyler WWI Collection at the Temple University Libraries [added 6/15/04]

U.S. Army propaganda through video games - Interesting article reporting that the Army has launched "two titles - "Soldiers", a role-playing game that lets you live boot camp life, and "Operations," a multi-player first-person shooter that, developers say, accurately reflects rules of engagement and squad teamwork." Available free from its game website, the games are meant to be propaganda. [added 11/20/03]

Nazi propaganda

Nazi propaganda - a good exhibition on Nazi propaganda from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum [added 7/17/10]

Holocaust denial - a pamphlet from the Jewish Virtual Library describing this propaganda movement [added 5/2/09]

Nazi and East German Propaganda - a huge collection of cartoons, speeches, posters and more from Randall Bytwerk at Calvin College [added 4/15/08]

Public Service Propaganda

Drug war propaganda over the years - good examples of anti-drug ads [added 12/16/13]

"Scary health messages can backfire" - For some people: "Before gauging the participants' reaction to the article and its advice, the researchers tested them on a measure of 'cognitive avoidance'. People who score highly on this personality dimension respond to threats with avoidance tactics such as distracting themselves, denying the threat or persuading themselves that they aren't vulnerable." [added 7/17/10]

Propaganda posters - a large collection of visual culture and public health posters from the 20th century [added 4/5/04]

Public service announcements - This excellent resource provides a history of many of the public service announcements from the Ad Council over the last 60 years. It includes lots of images and some video. Remember the "Crying Indian" television ad? Watch it here. [added 4/5/04]

Prohibition campaign ads - examples and explanation of Ohio prohibition campaign ads from Dept. of History, The Ohio State Univ.

Conspiracy Theories

Overcoming Covid misinformation - clues from battling climate change denial PANDEMIC

Who believes conspiracy theories? - Some research investigated this question. 

"A wave of radicalized influencers is mainstreaming COVID-19 conspiracy theories" - PANDEMIC

Using Twitter as a propaganda machine - Here's a fascinating study out of Carnegie Mellon University that has identified the primary sources of propaganda on Twitter during the pandemic, and the vast majority of them are likely bots (automated programs). PANDEMIC

Conspiracy theories - Cynthia Bane shared this interesting take on believing or spreading conspiracy theories and being a Christian. Here is a report about a survey showing how many American believe certain conspiracy theories.  Here is another article about why these conspiracy theories flourish. PANDEMIC

Other Propaganda Resources

 "Misinformation and education in a post-truth world" - Of course, shifting attitudes and beliefs are often the result of misinformation and fake news that we have heard so much about.  David Myers provides some examples and addresses the topic in this short blog entry.

Communist propaganda posters - Collections of posters used in the Soviet Union, Cuba, and China [added 6/17/15]

Tehran propaganda murals - [added 2/18/14]

"Propaganda tactics and Fahrenheit 9/11" - essay by Kelton Rhoads on his "Working Psychology" site -- He also wrote a follow-up essay entitled "Backdraft 9/11: A backlash against Michael Moore on election day?" [added 6/20/05]

"To protect children from being recruited as Muslims" - cartoon publications (or Chick "tracts") to assist Christians in witnessing about their faith [added 3/20/05]

"The propaganda model: A restrospective" - Find here an article reviewing the propaganda model regarding the role of mass media in the U.S. At the end of the page are links to related articles. [added 3/23/04]

Propaganda analysis - at the Institute for Propaganda Analysis - includes descriptions and examples of common techniques and some examples of propaganda, including some video examples

Propaganda posters - online exhibit includes 33 posters and 1 audio clip


Cults - A large collection of resources about cults can be found in the Ross Institute Internet Archives for the Study of Destructive Cults, Controversial Groups and Movements.

Cults - More cult resources: "Steven Alan Hassan, cult counselor and mind control expert, is the Nationally Certified Counselor and licensed Mental Health Counselor who has developed the breakthrough approach to help loved ones rescue cult mind control victims."

"What is a cult?" - This is from a new sociology blog that has some interesting entries. [added 4/15/08]

Cult Controversies - resources from the Washington Post describing various controversial cults since the 1950s [added 12/1/06] - F.A.C.T.Net (Fight Against Coercive Tactics Network) "focuses on protecting freedom of mind from harms caused by all forms of mind control and unethical influence" - lots of information and resources on cults, scientology and attempts at mind control [added 12/06/02]

Cults and sects - variety of resources - from guide on alternative religions [added 3/6/02]

"A social psychological critique of "brainwashing" claims about recruitment to new religions" - article by James T. Richardson - from J. Hadden and D. Bromley, eds. (1993), The Handbook of Cults and Sects in America. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, Inc., pp. 75-97. [added 3/6/02]

The Jonestown Massacre

The Jonestown Massacre - Letters tell one family's interesting experience in the Jonestown cult.

Multiple resources on the massacre - This site from NPR provides audio of stories about the event, an interview with a survivor, images of the massacre, review of the events and more. [added 3/19/04]

Multiple resources on the massacre from the Department of Religious Studies at San Diego State University - The Department has created a website entitled, “Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple," which provides a 25th anniversary review, personal reflections, tape transcripts and more. [added 3/19/04]

Dual Process Models

Mere-exposure effect fails to replicate with faces

Does priming for critical thinking promote more critical thinking? - A 2020 study suggested it can, but a recent replication attempt raised doubts. "The new results instead found that the effects of priming were smaller than reported in the initial study, may be conditional on factors such as politics, and seem to wear off quickly, most likely after rating a handful of headlines for accuracy."

How to make a choice more desirable - Put it alongside a less desirable choice.  “Introducing a less convenient option for hand sanitizing may actually boost workers' use of hand sanitizer and increase sanitary conditions in the workplace, according to findings in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The findings revealed that employees in a food factory used more of their regular sanitizer and had cleaner hands and workspaces after a "decoy" sanitizer option was offered to them.”

Associating beer brands with college cues - Can branding beers with the colors of your school, or other cues, make you feel more positive about, and safe with, that brand?

The shape of a company logo matters!

Facts vs. Identity: The backfire effect - This research finds that if you challenge a strongly held belief central to a person's identity with facts, it can backfire.

"Why do people prefer food in sexist packaging?" - Apparently because it is easier to process cognitively -- stereotypes make everything easier!

Anti-drug programs: Less fear, more facts - [added 6/17/15]

"Online, an initial positive rating is surprisingly influential" - "Lev Muchnik and his colleagues tested this possibility experimentally. Collaborating with a news-sharing website they randomly assigned either a positive or negative first-rating, or no rating (control condition), to 101,281 real comments posted over 5 months. This simple manipulation had a significant effect on the way other site users subsequently rated the comments." [added 1/2/14]

Do we unconsciously evaluate objects/products? - Here is another study examining whether or not the fMRI can be used to detect consumer preferences. [added 7/17/10]

Intuitive understanding of persuasion - "This research provides the first evidence that people do indeed use their intuitive understanding of persuasion and the personal characteristics associated with persuasion, to judge the extent to which persuasive attempts will be successful."

"Negative subliminal messages work" - Or do they? Does such a research finding as described here translate to the real world? This is another good example of how research is often presented in the media. [added 1/19/10]

Subliminal packaging tricks - Do code words such as "mild" or "smooth" persuade consumers to believe that some cigarettes are healthier than others, even if they aren't? [added 1/19/10]

Using scientific terms to sell products - Interesting article about how the increased use of scientific terminology, even if the customer doesn't understand it, is helping to sell beauty products. [added 4/26/09]

The more it costs... - A good, brief review of some research on how we are affected by the cost of things -- for example, the placebo was more effective when it cost more. [added 8/10/08]

"Wine labels with animals on them: why they work" - interesting priming research [added 5/20/08]

Rounding vs. preciseness of prices - This study found "that people incorrectly judge precise prices (e.g., $325,425) to be lower than round prices of similar magnitudes (e.g., $325,000)." [added 4/15/08]

Countering negative ads - A very good blog summary of a study which concludes "this result may offer some insight into why politicians have so much difficulty refuting those nasty campaign ads: when the public isn't paying much attention, they may be less likely to allow the refutation of an attack to replace the original memory of the attack itself." [added 4/15/08]

Subliminal exposure to national flag moderated views - Brief exposure to Israeli flag led to more moderate views and voting behavior. [added 4/15/08]

Gossip vs. facts - Here's a description of a research study that made the news quite a bit -- participants were frequently persuaded by gossip (comments by others of another player) even if they had all the facts they needed or the gossip was not consistent with the facts. [added 12/9/07]

Chocolate's influence on course evaluations! - You heard me. What happens if you are offered chocolate (by a complete stranger, not the instructor) before you complete an evaluation of your instructor? See what the study found. [added 12/9/07]

Mindless eating - an interesting 20/20 episode on research about many of the subjective/perceptual factors that influence how much we eat [7/19/07]

"False beliefs about fattening foods can have healthy consequences" - Here is a popular press story of an article by Loftus and colleagues in which they use a false feedback technique to convince dieters that they don't like strawberry ice cream. [added 1/8/06]

Snuggly white? The use of off-beat names in marketing - Interesting report on research: "From Chubby Hubby ice cream to Trailer Park red nail polish, marketers using ambiguous or surprising descriptions for new flavors and colors are likely to win sales by making consumers go through the effort of understanding an off-beat name, according to recent Wharton research." Link takes you to good description of research. You can also read the original article. [added 9/22/05]

Resistance to Change

Inoculating against viral misinformation

How to overcome vaccination fears - according to the evidence PANDEMIC

"People can be convinced to practice social distancing if they believe it will protect others" PANDEMIC

Is the backfire effect real? - This blog entry discusses a large replication effort that failed to find evidence of the backfire effect, the phenomenon of a person’s false belief strengthening rather than weakening in the face of correcting information.

Can openness to other viewpoints be increased? - Perhaps by increasing a person’s intellectual humility, according to this research

"A meta-analysis of the psychological efficacy of messages countering misinformation"

Countering fake news - a brief article reviewing some research on different strategies

Debunking fake news - some more discussion of what research suggests might or might not work

 "How to convince somebody when facts fail" - another good article on how a person's worldview can be so powerful as to undermine evidence -- and what to do about it

I don't believe I can change your mind, but I try anyway - This fascinating research identifies some of us as possessing a "fixed" mindset about attitudes (they can't be changed) and some of us possessing a "flexible" mindset (attitudes are changeable).  Surprisingly, some of those with a fixed mindset still try to change others' attitudes.  This research apparently unraveled the difference between those with a fixed mindset who give up on and those who pursue persuasion.  Those with a fixed mindset who believe persuasion is an opportunity to stand up for their beliefs still make the attempt.  On the other hand, those who believe persuasion is about trying to change someone's mind don't pursue it because they believe it would be futile.  It explains a little bit of what we see on social media.

Combating anti-vaccine attitudes - New research suggests a better strategy than presenting counterarguments.

Talking young Americans out of joining ISIS

Resistance to change - "The Denialists' Deck of Cards is a humorous illustration of how libertarian policy groups use denialism. In this context, denialism is the use of rhetorical techniques and predictable tactics to erect barriers to debate and consideration of any type of reform, regardless of the facts. has identified five general tactics used by denialists: conspiracy, selectivity, the fake expert, impossible expectations, and metaphor." [added 7/7/07]

Source Characteristics

Trust in media organizations across the U.S. political spectrum - Excellent graph

Training hairdressers to talk about climate change! - This is a fun idea.

"Effects of message-sidedness on perceived source bias" - I remember hearing about two-sided messages more than 40 years ago. It is still a viable concept and technique today.

"Stereotypical image of scientist influences trust"

Experts don't always give better advice they just give more

"We tend to prefer candidates with higher levels of education"

"Why we trust experts, even when they admit they don't know the answer"

Doctors spreading Covid vaccine misinformation - a very disturbing article about some of the doctors most influential in the spread false information PANDEMIC

Who shares (actual) fake news - “According to a study released Thursday, the number of Americans who shared fake news on Twitter during the 2016 presidential election was actually a very small group of individuals. An analysis of 16,442 registered voters on the social networking site revealed that just about 1 percent of those users accounted for 80 percent of all exposures to fake news content. Furthermore, only 0.1 percent of the same users were responsible for 81 percent of the fake news shared.”

George Clooney or an expert? - Sorry, the expert loses.  Participants in one study were more persuaded if a celebrity (George Clooney) endorsed a belief than if an expert on the topic did.  From now on, when I explain a new concept in class I will finish by saying, “And George Clooney agrees with me.”

Two things that make us distrust experts - a summary of two studies that are then applied to the courtroom

Newspaper op-eds can change minds - according to this new study

"When you dodge the question, it makes you look dodgy" - an interesting study of politicians

Gender roles and apologies - This blog entry reports on some research and advice that suggests that apologies are more "successful"  if they are gender congruent.  For example, a man's apology is more accepted if he takes responsibility, because that is what men do.

"How Americans navigate the modern information environment" - a very interesting survey from NORC at the University of Chicago investigating, among other things, who we trust as sources and where we go to find information

"'Typical-looking faces' are seen as more trustworthy"

Enhance credibility with disprefered markers - Bless your heart, you probably don't know what a disprefered marker is, so let me tell you. It means to cushion negative comments with phrases such as “I don’t wish to be mean but…” or “I don’t wish to complain but…” or “Bless its heart…” "Across a number of studies Hamilton and his colleagues found consistent effects. Softening a negative comment by first adding a disprefered marker like “I’ll be honest…” or “I don’t wish to be difficult but…” increased the liking and credibility of the communicator. Interestingly their research suggests that this phenomenon is not just an English speaking idiosyncrasy but is effective in different cultures and countries too." [added 4/24/14]

"I'm sorry about the rain!" - Really interesting study about how beginning with a superfluous apology increases trustworthiness by increase a perception of empathy -- After I mentioned this study in class a couple weeks ago, a couple of my students tried in at their places of work. First link is to the research article; second link is to a blog entry about it. [added 4/24/14]

The more precise the more trustworthy - "Specifically, the UCLA scientists suggest that when people use precise numbers rather than rounded numbers—3012 rather than 3000—this is taken as a sign of confidence in the source, making the information and the expert source more trustworthy. They tested this idea in a couple experiments." Actually, it was 2.0 experiments. [added 12/16/13]

"Obama's name instantly polarizes issues" - Fascinating poll conducted by the Washington Post in which respondents were asked about some issue either with or without Obama's endorsement of the issue. Simply adding his endorsement significantly changed support for the issue. [added 8/15/13]

Trustworthiness in robots - Some research using a robot investigated our use of non-verbal cues to judge trustworthiness. Nexi is the very engaging robot that exhibited the non-verbal cues. Read about the research at this link, and click on the link at the bottom of the press release to see Nexi in action. [added 3/5/13]

"We believe experts who confirm our beliefs" - "It's our values that determine the credibility that we give to experts,” according to Éric Montpetit and Érick Lachapelle, professors at the Université de Montréal Department of Political Science. “We judge based on our political predispositions. This highlights the limit of rationality when shaping an opinion.” [added 6/2/11]

The sleeper effect - a good, brief summary of research on the sleeper effect [added 12/23/10]

Speakers with a foreign accent less credible - The research suggests that it is not just because of prejudice. [added 12/23/10]

When does scowling enhance your credibility? - Don't lie, you were just about to ask that very question. Read the interesting answer. [added 7/17/09]

"The persuasive appeal of stigma" - "Stigmatized minorities may have an advantage in persuading majority group members during some face-to-face interactions due to the greater self-presentational demands such interactions elicit. In contrast to models which predict greater persuasive impact of members of ingroups, White participants were more convinced by persuasive appeals delivered by a Black interaction partner than by a White interaction partner." [added 10/25/07]

Message Characteristics

The power of repetition - Some political examples

"Complexly worded petitions gather more signatures" - Some explanation here of why we don't always find a fluency effect

"The crazy power of repetition" - An excellent post from David Myers, who, I am told, once outran a cheetah.

"Repetition can make even the most bizarre claims seem more true" - Elephants weigh less than ants. Elephants weigh less than ants. Elephants weigh less than ants. Seriously, they do.

"Conflicting health information can compromise our attention" - There is so much health information out there, and particularly with the pandemic it often changes or is shifting. This research finds that may have a variety of negative effects on us. "Those who had read conflicting health information had a lower correct response rate in the attention task than those who had read congruent information. These participants also took longer to respond to each stimuli during the trials, suggesting a decrease in cognitive processing speed. There was also a difference in how mentally demanding the task was for participants: those receiving conflicting information rated the game as being more work than those who did not. The team therefore suggests that the cognitive resources needed to process conflicting information can impact important attentional mechanisms. Those who saw conflicting health information were also more likely to be confused by nutritional information, and had greater feelings of backlash towards nutritional information. This suggests that conflicting health information can not only tire us out and dull our responses but may also impact our behaviour, potentially putting us off from following advice about our health."

Poison Parasite Counter (PPC): When someone encounters and accepts a false claim, research has found that presenting an accurate counterargument can reduce belief in that false claim.  However, when someone encounters that same false claim again and again without an accompanying counterargument the belief in the false claim is regained or strengthened.  So, how can you present a counterargument every time someone encounters that false claim?  Enter the PPC!  

Using simple associational learning, the counterargument (parasite) is attached to the false claim (host).  Because it is a strong contradiction of the host claim, the parasitic counterargument is poison to that host claim. But here is the key: Instead of presenting the counterargument after or in response to the false claim, the PPC integrates the counterargument into the original claim, as a parasite does to its host.  So, now the counterargument (parasite) is linked to the false belief (host).  As a result, each time the false claim is encountered or remembered again, the counterargument presumably is activated and moderates the false information.  Seven experiments supported the effectiveness of this technique, including evidence of its enduring effect beyond the first attachment of the parasite to the host.  Yeah, a very cool idea.  I look forward to further examination and application of this tool. You can see examples of these PPCs in the research article below. 

As an aside, this semester I asked my social psych students to write a paper applying course concepts to the misinformation and disinformation around the pandemic.  Many of them integrated the PPC quite nicely in their suggestions for addressing some of this misinformation.  For example, they noted that some social media sites use a "lite" version of the PPC when they add a disclaimer to posts pushing false information.  My students thought it would be more effective though if instead of a generic "this is false" disclaimer they would attach a specific counterargument to the false claim.  What do you think, PPC creators?

Those who trust science more easily duped by sciencey-sounding misinformation

Are you more persuaded by the message or by how many others viewed it? - "Researchers found that when people watched YouTube videos either for or against e-cigarette use, their level of persuasion wasn't directly affected by whether the video said it was viewed by more than a million people versus by fewer than 20."

How much precision is ideal in communicating complex information?

Can text messages persuade people to get a vaccine? - "In a new study involving more than 47,000 people, we identified messages that were able to “nudge” people who were scheduled for a primary-care doctor’s visit to get a flu shot during that visit. Although the study took place last fall, before coronavirus vaccines were widely available, we designed the messages so they could be repurposed for the new vaccines." PANDEMIC

Against morally-held attitudes, two-sided messages may be more effective

False news travels faster and further than the truth online - "Falsehood diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information, and the effects were more pronounced for false political news than for false news about terrorism, natural disasters, science, urban legends, or financial information. We found that false news was more novel than true news, which suggests that people were more likely to share novel information."

"Climate change appeals may be more effective when they're pessimistic"

Framing messages - Changing someone’s mind is not an easy task.  More and more research suggests one of the most effective techniques is to frame your effort in a form that connects with important values of your audience.

Better to speak rather than write to people who disagree with you

Better to speak rather than write to people who disagree with you

"Do funny (journal) article titles garner more citations?" - apparently not

"Do the media lead us to fear terrorists too little -- or too much?" - As David Myers points out in this brief blog entry, more armed toddlers killed Americans than Islamic terrorists did in both 2015 and 2016.

Does repetition produce "truth"? - This research attempts to investigate that question by repeating known and unknown truths.

"The scary power of mere repetition"

Anti-drug programs: Less fear, more facts - [added 6/17/15]

"It's the right thing to do" - Are you more persuaded by moral justifications or practical ones from leaders? [added 6/17/15]

The influence of "scientese" - Just include a graph, a formula, or other scientific-looking/sounding stuff in your presentation and you are more likely to persuade. [added 6/17/15]

"When persuading, what numbers of claims is most effective?" - [added 4/24/14]

Should my first sales offer be a precise one ($2135) or a rounded one ($2000)? - We have an answer! And Steve Martin tells us about it. [added 4/24/14]

"Humor reduces our resistance to aggressive marketing" - [added 1/1/13]

Can grammar affect an election? - "Imagine you encountered the following text: 'Timmy Tucker is a senior politician. Last year Timmy championed human rights, and was fiddling his expenses.' Now compare with this version: 'Timmy Tucker is a senior politician. Last year Timmy was championing human rights, and fiddled his expenses.' How does each version affect your view of Timmy Tucker? New findings from Caitlin Fausey and Teenie Matlock suggest that the first version is more likely to damage Timmy's re-election prospects." Read to find out why. [added 1/29/12]

Extreme fear appeals can backfire - more research supporting this claim from the global warming phenomenon [added 6/2/11]

The power of repetition [added 12/23/10]

The influence of positive framing - a blog entry reviewing research on whether it is better to emphasize the positive or the negative [added 12/23/10]

Don't scare them too much - "The push to go green is based in good intentions, but an upcoming study in Psychological Science shows that the popular “do or die” global-warming messages can backfire if the situation is presented too negatively." [added 12/23/10]

New graphics on cigarette packs - See pictures of the new fear-inducing images that will be appearing on packs of cigarettes in the U.S. [added 12/23/10]

How to increase voter turnout - "Would-be voters received one of three kinds of phone call: either they were encouraged to vote and reminded of their duty; they were asked whether they intended to vote; or they were asked more detailed questions about when, where etc they planned to vote. A control group received no phone call. A classic study in the 1980s found that simply asking people if they intended to vote ended up making them more likely to vote - a phenomenon known as the 'self-prophecy effect'. However, this effect wasn't replicated here. Would-be voters in the current study, who were simply asked whether they planned to vote or not, were barely more likely to vote than the control group. Same story for the participants who received a call with encouragement to vote. By contrast, would-be voters who were asked questions about the when and where of their voting intentions were, on average, 4.1 per cent more likely to vote than controls. There's a further twist. Digging deeper the researchers realised that the detailed questions about voting intentions only exerted an influence on would-be voters who were the sole eligible voter in their household. Focusing on just these people, the detailed voting intentions phone call led to an average 9.1 per cent increase in turnout." [added 7/13/10]

"Death" warnings increase smoking? - According to this study, for those whose self-esteem is tied to smoking, encountering threatening messages about smoking increases the tendency to smoke. [added 2/8/10]

Fear or disgust...or both? - When do fear appeals work? When does disgust persuade? This article summarizes research that suggests that anti-tobacco ads that tried to scare or disgust viewers increased memory for the message, but ads that tried to do both (scare AND disgust) decreased viewer memory and attention. [added 4/26/09]

It's how you present the numbers -- "Would you rather support research for a disease that affects 30,000 Americans a year or one that affects just .01 percent of the U.S. population?" Research on how you present the numbers. [6/20/08]

"To persuade jurors...confuse them?" - "If you want to persuade jurors, you must be clear, right? Maybe not. New research shows that a sales pitch is more persuasive when it confuses the customer." [added 11/21/07]

Making bug ads palatable - article about how Terminix uses humorous ads to avoid creeping out its customers [added 7/1/04]

"Do defaults save lives?" - very interesting article analyzing opt-in and opt-out strategies in Europe to promote organ donation -- a good, short read for students [added 6/15/04]

Audience Characteristics

Who believes conspiracy theories? - Some research investigated this question.

"Chemical spray shows power as trust booster" - This research study made a big splash in the public press. Does inhaling oxytocin make you more trusting of others? [added 1/2/06]

Cialdini's Principles

 Interview with subscriber Robert Cialdini - No, I didn't interview him. Even better, it was APS President Jennifer Eberhardt. The interview includes some fun information about how Cialdini brought "more of our science into the world, and more of the world into our science."

 Cialdini's SEVEN principles of influence - Robert Cialdini has an added a seventh principle as described in this excellent essay.  Shoot, now the lovely graphic I show in class of the six principles won't work.  Robert, I hope you come up with a new graphic as well.

Can Covid stickers encourage people to get vaccinated? - Will social proof work in this case? PANDEMIC

"Online, an initial positive rating is surprisingly influential" - "Lev Muchnik and his colleagues tested this possibility experimentally. Collaborating with a news-sharing website they randomly assigned either a positive or negative first-rating, or no rating (control condition), to 101,281 real comments posted over 5 months. This simple manipulation had a significant effect on the way other site users subsequently rated the comments." [added 1/2/14]

Reciprocity ... with computers! - We are more likely to respond positively (reciprocate) to those who help or give us something. For example, if someone self-discloses we are more likely to as well. But what if it is a computer, and the computer says "You may have noticed that this computer looks just like most other PCs on campus. In fact, 90% of all computers are beige, so this computer is not very distinctive in its appearance. What do you dislike about your physical appearance?” Yes, researchers found "people were much more likely to reveal personal details about themselves when they were responding to the computer’s revelation." It is a simple way to get more detailed responses from survey responders. [added 12/23/10]

"50 scientifically proven ways to be persuasive" - a nice list for discussion and possible student projects taken from the Goldstein, Martin, and Cialdini of the same name [added 7/17/09]

Norm of reciprocity - "Trouble with customer service agents?" This blogger suggests using the norm of reciprocity. [added 11/21/08]

Influence at Work - commercial site containing many essays and links on persuasion

Persuasion in the Media

"Selling sweet nothings" - Good article in the APS Observer on how food products are marketed towards kids [added 6/17/15]

Before and after pictures - interesting first-person account of the illusion behind these pictures [added 12/16/13]

Psychological distance diminishes concerns of risks in products - Clever set of studies found that risks presented in ads for drugs or hair loss remedies were concerning for those who were immediately contemplating them, but those who saw this decision as more distant discounted the risks and even trusted the product more. [added 8/15/13]

Lying is now legal - Wow. An appeals court ruled that marketers can make unsupported claims that a drug can be used to treat an ailment it was not tested for, because to ban such claims is to infringe on their freedom of speech. [added 8/15/13]

Is beauty an effective advertising tool? - "A new study by Debra Trampe and colleagues tests the limits of this assumption, finding that attractive models do usually increase a product's appeal, except when consumers think hard about the advert and physical beauty is irrelevant to the product." [added 12/23/10]

The use of advertising in China - "A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research looks at the role advertising has played in China's transformation. Authors Xin Zhao (University of Hawaii at Manoa) and Russell W. Belk (York University, Toronto) analyzed advertisements in the Chinese media for clues on how sociological and ideological change has taken place in the People's Republic. Advertising is the major propaganda vehicle for consumerism, and an excellent arena to explore China's changing values, explain the authors: 'We examine how advertising appropriates a dominant anti-consumerist political ideology to promote consumption within China's social and political transition.'" [added 11/21/08]

Fraudulent weight-loss ads - Sit down. You're not going to believe this. Did you know that many of the weight-loss claims made in ads may not be true? Hey, if you don't believe me, read the report from the Federal Trade Commission. However, it seems that the percentage of false claims is dropping significantly, melting away just like your pounds will if you send me..... [added 8/30/05]

Advertising World - everything advertising - from the Dept. of Advertising at the Univ. of Texas-Austin, hundreds and hundreds of links to many, many topics related to... yes, advertising! [added 3/21/02]

"Emergence of Advertising in America" - more an historical site, but still an interesting and well-done review from the American Memory Project

"The erotic history of advertising" - an article describing some uses of erotic text and images to sell products [added 12/30/06]

Print Ads

Vintage ads - Lots of print ads for a variety of products from the 1800’s on!

(Little) kids smoking - a clever way to challenge our views of youth smoking -- see the photos [added 8/15/13]

Non-verbal communication in ads - a very nice resource created by Robin Akert that contains a fairly large number of print ads that can be used to explore gender differences, roles and stereotypes [added 12/30/06]

Print ads - "The Ad*Access Project, funded by the Duke Endowment "Library 2000" Fund, presents images and database information for over 7,000 advertisements printed in U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955. Ad*Access concentrates on five main subject areas: Radio, Television, Transportation, Beauty and Hygiene, and World War II, providing a coherent view of a number of major campaigns and companies through images preserved in one particular advertising collection available at Duke University." [added 6/17/05]

Selling Tobacco: Ads of the 1940s and 1950s - remarkable collection of the print ads used to sell tobacco products before the Surgeon General's warning

The Ad Graveyard - View ads that did not quite make it to the public - unfortunately, it appears there is no index or easy navigation, but some interesting stuff

TV Ads

Presidential Ads from 1952-2008 - Even more impressive is this site providing video of campaign ads stretching back 50 years, and the site will be updated soon to include more recent ads. "Presented by the American Museum of the Moving Image in cooperation with the Political Communication Center, University of Oklahoma." [added 6/15/04]

Analysis of TV Commercials - a media literacy site - click on "Online Video" and watch streaming video of segments that begin with a TV commercial and then follow with analysis of the ad by an invited panel

Ad Slogans

Ad Songs

Song titles from ads - Trying to remember a song from a particular commercial? This site lists the songs that accompanies many of the ads from the last few years. Also gives you links to samples of the songs. [added 1/2/06]

Are online product reviews persuasive? - This blog entry reports on recent research on the topic. [added 1/1/13]

"The psychology of being scammed" - This blog entry refers to a long, detailed, and interesting report on the what, why, and how of successful scams. Did you know, for example, that "Scam victims often have better than average background knowledge in the area of the scam content." [added 7/17/09]

The cover story of the January, 2007 APS Observer, "Framing Science: Advances in theory and technology are fueling a new era in the science of persuasion" is an excellent one. I particularly like the report of some research by Jeremy Bailenson: "Before the last presidential election in 2004, Bailenson and his colleagues sent out digital photographs of George Bush and John Kerry to 200 voters. But a third of the subjects received photographs that had features of their own face digitally morphed onto Bush's face so subtly it could not consciously be detected. Another third of the subjects received photographs that had their face morphed onto Kerry, again below the level of conscious awareness. The last third simply received unaltered photographs of both Bush and Kerry. Then a week before the election, they asked the subjects to vote. The subjects who were previously undecided were significantly more likely to vote for the candidate whose face had been morphed to resemble theirs." [added 7/6/07]

Environmental problems and the press - Beatriz Cortés sent along this PowerPoint presentation she and her colleagues gave at a conference in Spain on social perception and environmental problems. [added 7/6/06]

The Persuaders - Did you get a chance to see this excellent PBS show recently on how marketers and politicians figure out how to persuade us? If not, you are in luck. The entire episode is available for viewing online at the above link. Definitely worth seeing. As with many PBS shows now, the streaming video is broken up into segments for easy display in the classroom. [added 12/1/04]

Fear of death and political preferences - A recent article has received a lot of attention in our current (2004) U.S. election climate. Research is finding that when we are exposed to reminders of death or 9/11 we tend to favor "charismatic" leaders such as George Bush. It is also another excellent example of the power of priming. [added 12/1/04]

Hispanic Fact Pack (2004) - excellent supplement to Advertising Age with lots of information and examples of advertising, marketing and media for the Hispanic market [added 12/1/04]

"Coffin Nails: The Tobacco Controvery in the 19th Century" - This site draws on text, cartoons and ads from Harper's Weekly, 1857-1912, to describe the health concerns already present about tobacco and responses to it. [added 7/16/03]

Effectiveness of Abstinence Programs on Sexual Activity

Smoke-free Movies - this site "aims to sharply reduce the U.S. film industry's usefulness to Big Tobacco's domestic and global marketing - a leading cause of disability and premature death" - it explores the science of movie influence through tobacco documents online, research on the topic and other sources - included are its own ads [added 6/7/02]

Joe Chemo - many of you have probably seen Scott Plous' excellent anti-smoking site - includes links to information on tobacco advertising, a tobacco IQ test and more


Alcohol references in UK pop music up significantly - [added 6/17/15]

Non-verbal Communication

"If you want to persuade a woman, look straight at her" - interesting study using a virtual reality environment [added 7/14/07]

Non-verbal behavior/Non-verbal communication links - recently updated, organized set of links to non-verbal communication sites, articles, online experiments and more -- in English and Spanish!

Other Resources

The self-persuading norm - "Would people be more influenced by social norms if they are given the opportunity to provide their own argument supporting other people's behaviors?"

Tis easier to believe than to unbelieve - A really interesting thought discussed here by David Myers

"How to actually change someone's mind" - A good article describing some of the research on this challenging question

Countering misinformation - An APS white paper reviewing much of the psychological research on the topic

Or, try video games (to debunk misinformation)

"Disinformation: Misinformation's evil twin"

Another effective radio narrative - "A radio drama set in a fictional city might seem a whimsical tool for countering a challenge as grave as violent extremism, but a field experiment in Burkina Faso, in West Africa, suggests that narrative interventions using storytelling may provide impactful solutions for shifting behavioral intentions, beliefs, and attitudes."

"How one British Isle persuaded its citizens to get vaccinated"

"The scams among us: Who falls prey and why"

The sociology of the con - interesting essay about the tricks of con artists

"Strengthening contact tracing through psychological science" PANDEMIC

"The science of reasoning with unreasonable people"

France sees 1 million smokers quit in a year - The article briefly mentions a number of efforts to reduce smoking.

Can the salesperson be too excited? - I think we know the answer to that, but let’s see what the research says.

Foot-in-the-face technique - Not as painful as it sounds, but it could be effective.

Persuading people to save the planet - an article reviewing research and theory on social dominance theory and how it can be used

The underestimation-of-compliance effect - Did you know that you are 34 times more persuasive face-to-face than via email?

When and where do nudges work? - A "nudge" is an intervention "that preserves freedom of choice, but steers people in a particular direction."

The pique technique - "The pique technique is a persuasion strategy believed to work by raising the listener's curiosity and thus disrupting the automatic "No" and encouraging you to engage with the asker.  Most people ask, "What is it for? to an unusual request like "47 cents."  Take a look at the accompanying photo for a really interesting example.  Here is another recent article on the technique.

The science of "blue lies" - Interesting discussion of why President Trump telling lies does not turn off his supporters - it's because he is often telling "blue lies" according to this analysis. Blue lies are "falsehoods, told on behalf of a group, that can actually strengthen the bonds among members of that group."

"How partisan is fake news?" - a very interesting test of this question from PCWorld

"When expert advice creates analysis paralysis" - In his Inside Influence Report, Robert Cialdini provides some theory-based strategies for avoiding analysis paralysis.

The seven "claptraps" of persuasive speeches - A recent review of Obama's and Romney's 2012 speeches on the campaign trail reveal that Obama used these seven devices more effectively.

Effecting change: Peaceful or radical action? - Research finds that discussion with like-minded others fosters both. [added 6/17/15]

Movies influence political views - very interesting study [added 6/17/15]

The science of interrogation - [added 6/17/15]

The influence of color - [added 6/17/15]

Giving a "do nothing" option can be persuasive - Interesting studies found that including the choice of doing nothing actually increased participation. [added 6/17/15]

"Five lessons in persuasion from food servers" - [added 4/24/14]

"Dream team" of psychologists assisted Obama's campaign efforts - If you are looking to see if you were on the team, that means you weren't. [added 1/1/13]

Is the last chocolate better than the next chocolate? - Sam Sommers discusses this clever study in which participants tasted five chocolates. Half of the participants were told the fifth one was the next chocolate, and half were told it was the last chocolate. Those who were told it was the last one liked it better. (I was tempted to begin this issue of the Newsletter by telling you it was the last issue, but the panic and deep despair that would likely follow could send shockwaves through world markets that we just don't need right now.) Ask your students where else this might apply. How could it be used in persuasive attempts? [added 7/5/12]

Creating the perfect persuasive message? - This blog entry reviews 20 principles of persuasion. [added 12/23/10]

How do Senate leaders persuade their colleagues? - interesting series of perspectives on this question that appeared in The New York Times [added 1/19/10]

Developing brand loyalty/recognition early in life - "If a brand had been experienced from birth, the students were quicker to recognise it as real than if it had been encountered from age five and up. A second experiment showed that students were also quicker at accessing information about early encountered brands compared with late-encountered brands, as indicated by the speed with which they said a product was or was not made by a given brand....Participants aged between 50 and 83 years were quicker to recognise early brands over newer, current brands, even if the early brands were long since defunct." [added 1/19/10]

A right-ear preference - You heard me. But do you believe me? You are more likely to respond to my request if I whispered it in your right ear, according to this study. Ooh, here's another study: Would a message be more persuasive if it is presented in your right visual field? [added 7/17/09]

"How the brain buys" - Here's an interesting discussion of some of the research on consumers in the marketplace. But remember the caution regarding some of these fMRI studies. [added 5/2/09]

"Conversational blindness" - Conversational blindness: "A phenomenon whereby listeners fail to notice when speakers respond to a different question than the one they are asked-by responding with answers that seem to address the question asked, but which in fact address an entirely different question." This research finds "A successful dodge occurs when a speaker's answer to the wrong question is so compelling that the listener both forgets the right one, and rates the dodger positively. In some cases, speakers end up better off by answering the wrong question well rather than the right question poorly." [added 4/26/09]

When is it acceptable to lie? - description of a study that examines cultural and other factors that can affect the answer to this question [added 12/9/07]

"Shopping can lead to more... well... shopping" - report on research from the Stanford Graduate School of Business [added 11/21/07]

Cigarette warning labels - A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at the "tobacco-related knowledge and attitudes among young adults in the United States and compared their perceptions of how U.S. and Canadian cigarette warning labels would affect smoking behavior." [added 7/8/07]

Would a talking urinal persuade you? - "In a novel move to curb drunk driving, New Mexico is using talking urinals to remind drinkers to not get behind the wheel when drunk." [added 7/7/07]

Foot-in-the-door - Where did some of the names of our terms come from? Here is some interesting info about possible original uses of "foot-in-the-door." I cannot vouch for its accuracy. [added 7/7/07]

"Knowing the ingredients can change the taste" - an article from The New York Times [added 12/30/06]

Energy Hog Buster! - The U.S. Department of Energy launched a campaign "designed to make children and their parents aware of energy efficient behavior." Check out the energy hog web site. [added 1/10/06] - A website from a consulting and publishing company which describes many techniques, principles and theories of persuasion. David Straker is the principal author. [added 9/20/05]

Political Communication Lab - This lab from the Dept. of Communication at Stanford Univ. looks like a relatively new site, but there already are some interesting resources here, including at least a couple interactive surveys/studies in which you can participate. [added 12/1/04]

"Confessions of a Car Salesman" - Here is an interesting article of "What really goes on in the back rooms of car dealerships across America." sent a journalist undercover to work as a car salesman. He relays his experiences in this article. [added 4/5/04]

The ATLAS Project - "The ATLAS project is a longitudinal study to develop and test a school-based prevention program to reduce anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) use among adolescent athletes." [added 8/28/02]

"How to Sell a Pseudoscience" - informative article from the Skeptical Inquirer on the persuasive tactics often used by the sellers of pseudoscience

"Crimes of Persuasion: Schemes, Scams, Fraud" - site describes "how con artists will steal your savings and inheritance through telemarketing fraud, investment schemes and consumer scams" - lots of examples, tactics and links

Articles, Books, and Book Chapters (available online)

Book Chapters

Dijksterhuis, A., Aarts, H., & Smith, P. K. (2005). The power of the subliminal: On subliminal persuasion and other potential applications. In Ran R. Hassin, James S. Uleman, & John A. Bargh (Eds.), The new unconscious (pp. 77-106). New York: Oxford University Press.

Greenwald, A. G. (1968). Cognitive learning, cognitive response to persuasion, and attitude change. In A. G. Greenwald, T. C. Brock, and T. M. Ostrom (Eds.), Psychological foundations of attitudes (pp. 147-170). New York: Academic Press.

Richardson, James T. (1993). "A social psychological critique of "brainwashing" claims about recruitment to new religions" from J. Hadden and D. Bromley, eds. The Handbook of Cults and Sects in America. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, Inc., pp. 75-97.


Brooks, A. W., Hengchen D., & Schweitzer, M. E. (2013). I'm sorry about the rain! Superfluous apologies demonstrate empathic concern and increase trust. Social Psychological & Personality Science,

Bushman, B.J. & Bonacci, A.M. (2002). Violence and sex impair memory for television ads. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 557-564.

Bushman, B. J. (1998). Effects of warning and information labels on consumer choices regarding fatty products. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83, 97-101.

Correll, J., Spencer, S. J., & Zanna, M. P. (2004). An affirmed self and an open mind: Self-affirmation and sensitivity to argument strength. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40, 350-356.

Dal Cin, S., MacDonald, T. K., Fong, G. T., Zanna, M. P., & Elton-Marshall, T. E. (2006). Remembering the message: Using a reminder cue to increase condom use following a safer sex intervention. Health Psychology, 25, 438-443.

Epley, N., Savitsky, K., & Kachelski, R.A. (1999). What every skeptic should know about subliminal persuasion. Skeptical Inquirer, 23, 40-45.

Epstein, L. H., Dearing, K. K., Roba, L. G., & Finkelstein, E. (2010). The influence of taxes and subsidies on energy purchased in an experimental purchasing study. Psychological Science, 21, 406-414.

Forehand, M. R., & Perkins, A. (2005). Implicit assimilation and explicit contrast: A set/reset model of response to celebrity voiceovers. Journal of Consumer Research, 32, 435-441.

Freitas, A.L., Azizian, A., Travers, S., & Berry, S.A. (2005). The evaluative connotation of processing fluency: Inherently positive or moderated by motivational context? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 41, 636-644.

Gerber, A., Green, D., & Larimer, C. (2008). Social pressure and voter turnout: Evidence from a large-scale field experiment. American Political Science Review, 102, 33-48.

Gino, F. (2008). Do we listen to advice just because we paid for it? The impact of advice cost on its use. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 107, 234-245.

Greenwald, A. G., & Leavitt, C. (1984) Audience involvement in advertising: Four levels. Journal of Consumer Research, 11, 581-592.

Greenwald, A. G., Spangenberg, E. R., Pratkanis, A. R., & Eskenazi, J. (1991). Double-blind tests of subliminal self-help audiotapes. Psychological Science, 2, 119-122.

Harackiewicz, J. M., Rozek, C. S., Hulleman, C. S., & Hyde, J. S. (2012). Helping parents to motivate adolescents in mathematics and science: An experimental test of a utility-value intervention. Psychological Science, 23, 899-906.

Hsee, C. K., Yang Y., Gu, Y., & Chen, J. (2008). Specification seeking: How product specifications influence consumer preference. Journal of Consumer Research, 35, 952-966.

Johnson, B. T., & Eagly, A. H. (1989). Effects of involvement on persuasion: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 106, 290-314.

Keller, S. N., Rosenthal, L. H. & Rosenthal, P. S. (2009). A comparison of pro-anorexia and treatment Web sites: A look at the Health Belief and Stages of Change Models online. Journal of Health Psychology.

Kosfeld, M., Heinrichs, M., Zak, P., Fischbacher, U., & Fehr, E. (2005). Oxytocin increases trust in humans. Nature, 435, 673-676.

Laran, J., Dalton, A.N. & Andrade, E.B. 2011. The curious case of behavioral backlash: Why brands produce priming effects and slogans produce reverse priming effects. Journal of Consumer Research, 37, 999-1014.

Lee, S. W. S., Schwarz, N., Taubman, D., & Hou, M. (2009). Sneezing in times of a flu epidemic: Public sneezing increases perception of unrelated risks and shifts preferences for federal spending. Psychological Science, 20, 375-377.

Little, A. C., Burriss, R. P., Jones, B. C., & Roberts, S. C. (2007). Facial appearance affects voting decisions. Evolution and Human Behavior, 28, 18–27.

McCabe, D.P. & Castel, A.D. (2008). Seeing is believing: The effect of brain images on judgments of scientific reasoning. Cognition, 107, 343-352.

Miller, E. G., & Kahn, B. E. (2005). Shades of meaning: The effect of color and flavor names on consumer choice. Journal of Consumer Research, 32, 86-92.

Moradi, P., Thornton, J., Edwards, R., Harrison, R. A., Washington, S. J., & Kelly, S. P. (2007). Teenagers' perceptions of blindness related to smoking: A novel message to a vulnerable group. British Journal of Opthalmology, 91, 605-607.

Myrseth, K. O. R., Fishbach, A., & Trope, Y. (2009). Counteractive self-control: When making temptation available makes temptation less tempting. Psychological Science, 20, 159-163.

Plassmann, H., O'Doherty, J., Shiv, B., & Rangel, A. (2008). Marketing actions can modulate neural representations of experienced pleasantness. PNAS, 105, 1050-1054.

Robinson, T.N., Borzekowski, D.L.G., Matheson, D.M., & Kraemer, H.C. (2007). Effects of fast food branding on young children's taste preferences. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 161, 792-797.

Sargent, J. D., Tanski, S. E., & Gibson, J. (2007). Exposure to movie smoking among US adolescents aged 10 to 14 Years: A population estimate. Pediatrics, 119, 1167-1176.

Scherer, C. R., & Sagarin, B. J. (2006). Indecent influence: The positive effects of obscenity on persuasion. Social Influence, 1, 138-146.

Schroeder, J., & Epley, N. (2015). The sound of intellect: Speech reveals a thoughtful mind, increasing a job candidate's appeal. Psychological Science, 26, 877-891.

Sherry, J. L. (2003). Media effects theory and the nature/nurture debate: A historical overview and implications for future research. Media Psychology, 6, 83-109.

Silvia, P. J., Graham, J. S., & Hawley, C. N. (2005). Changing attitudes toward prison reform: Effects of similarity to prisoners on attraction and rejection. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 35, 248-258.

Stangor, C., Sechrist, G.B., & Jost, J.T. (2001). Changing racial beliefs by providing consensus information. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 486-496.

Strahan, E. J., Spencer, S. J., & Zanna, M. P. (2002). Subliminal priming and persuasion: Striking while the iron is hot. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 38, 556-568.

Strahan, E. J., White, K., Fong, G. T., Fabrigar, L. R., Zanna, M. P., & Cameron, R. (2002). Enhancing the effectiveness of tobacco package warning labels: A social psychological perspective. Tobacco Control, 11, 183-190.

Watts, D.J. and P.S. Dodds. (2007). Influentials, networks, and public opinion formation. Journal of Consumer Research, 34, 441-458.

Weaver, K., Garcia, S. M., Schwarz, N., & Miller, D. T. (2007). Inferring the popularity of an opinion from its familiarity: A repetitive voice can sound like a chorus. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 821-833.

Williams, P. & Drolet, A. (2005). Age-related differences in responses to emotional advertisements. Journal of Consumer Research, 32, 343-354.



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