Fear and Persuasion

Let us take a deeper look at the psychology of persuasion. I note that most want to change others minds but genuinely bad at persuading others. This is a topic of academic study.

As for myself, I’m not caring is people think my particular answers are correct. I want to persuade people we can live at peace in A Secular-Confessional Society together. I look for a peace that does not require agreement, and a society that heals is fractures.

The argument against fear

An appeal to fear is not always successful both as we have reactions that it causes an because we are relatively complex in our thinking, for example, not only does fear make us want to reduce it, it also makes us want to do so with dignity.

The Fight-or-Flight reaction effectively means that when we experience fear, we may well either run away or fight back. Flight is theoretically a possibly useful response in that the persuader is like a sheepdog, nudging others in the right direction. Yet people can indeed be like sheep in that they will flee in random directions, making the sheepdog’s work very exhausting.

Flight can also be cognitive and various coping mechanisms may be used, such as denial.

Fighting back is also common and can be very subtle. There are many ways of resisting persuasion that are not always obvious but will ultimately frustrate the persuader.

A third route freezing, much as rabbit caught in headlights, particularly if the threat is seen as extreme and with no obvious solution. Motivationally this is not helpful, as it means the other person does nothing, which is almost as bad as running in the wrong direction.

Janis and Feshbach (1953) rethought the fear theory that Janis had helped develop a year earlier, noting that the stronger fear that a persuasive message invokes, the greater the resistance to persuasion.
One important question to consider in persuation is how fear does and does not work in persuasion: