4.3.1 Authority and Persuasion

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at http://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/431.htm)

Moral influence is exerted by persuasion.  There is no single best way of persuading everybody, because people respond to different modes of communication – depending upon their intelligence, education, capacity for analysis, personality and respect for authority.  Those who seek to persuade others ought to be aware of the different ways of appealing to people, as described in the following sub-sections:

  • People usually accept what they are told by those who are perceived as holding positions of authority (4.3.1.1).
  • A few people can be persuaded by arguments, appealing to their reason (4.3.1.2).
  • Many might be won over by eliciting an emotional response: appealing to their moral values and their sense of duty to a group that they identify with (4.3.1.3).
  • Some people become role models (perhaps unintentionally) and others follow their example (4.3.1.4).
  • Some people claim religious authority to demand obedience, although there are problems with this (4.3.1.5).

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