YourSidekick Role Responsibilities
 


PURPOSES


PREVIEW

Communication encounters serve several general purposes that ultimately help us adapt to our environment.  For instance, we spend quite a bit of time trying to find or get information about our environment.  Other times, our purpose in communicating may be to inform others, to solve problems, to persuade or to be persuaded, to entertain or to be entertained. We have many purposes for receiving and transmitting messages.

One of the characteristics of the structured communication encounters considered here is that one or more parties to the encounters have a preconceived purpose.  This is not to say that all the participants have a preconceived purpose which they can articulate, nor is this to say that the parties to the encounters have the same or even similar general purposes.

In this unit we will focus on five general purposes of communication:  information-getting, information-giving, problem solving, persuasion, and entertainment.  For each of these general purposes, we will examine some of the attitudes, abilities, and formats that lead to more effective communication encounters.

The learning materials have been designed so that you can conduct an interview, participate in a discussion, present a public speech, or create online materials with any of the communicative purposes appropriate to the encounter.  As you demonstrate how to participate in a particular communicative encounter (for example, an online discussion or a public speech), a knowledge of the attitudes, abilities, and format applicable to your purpose in the encounter will be essential. 

By the end of this unit, you should be able to

Name five general purposes of communication, and construct sample specific purposes based on each.

Describe the information-getting purpose of communication. 

Describe the information-giving purpose of communication. 

Describe the problem-solving purpose of communication.  

Describe the persuasive purpose of communication.

Describe the entertainment purpose of communication.


THE NATURE OF GENERAL AND SPECIFIC PURPOSES

UNIT OBJECTIVE 01: NAME FIVE GENERAL PURPOSES OF COMMUNICATION, AND CONSTRUCT SAMPLE SPECIFIC PURPOSES BASED ON EACH.   

The communication encounters we deal with in this book have at least one these general purposes: information-getting, information-giving, problem-solving, persuasion, and entertainment .  In order to formulate a more specific focus, we need to know the topic, issue, or problems we want to address.  Carefully constructed specific purposes dealing with socially significant issues are the backbone of effective encounters in a communication course.  Let us examine briefly both the nature of the five general purposes and the nature of specific purposes in communication encounters.

General Purposes of Communication

Both the information-getting and -giving purposes have learning as their goal--learning about things and people.  As a student, your final course grade in sociology, for instance, may depend on a term project that calls for finding sophisticated answers to current social problems.  As an engineer, business executive, agricultural specialists, etc., your ability to gather information that can be applied to pressing problems posed in  your day-to-day job will be an important determinant of your success in your chosen career. 

Other communicative encounters require you to give instructions to others or describe the nature of a problem situation to your superiors.  Businesses often lose a great deal of money because instructions are not clear to those who must carry them out.  Ineffective information-givers may not be promoted as quickly as others because "people can't make heads-or tails out of what they say."

The problem-solving purpose is concerned with finding viable solutions to blocked goals.  The principles and techniques associated with problem-solving apply equally well to making decisions about our physical environments as they do to making decisions about social, political, psychological, or even very personal and private concerns.  As developed here problem-solving includes such activities as conflict resolution and amelioration of feelings.  Should you buy a new car?  Should you change your major?  Should the university change its method of evaluating students?  Should the method of electing the President of the United States be changed?  These are some of the problems we attempt to solve by communicating with others.

In many situations action must be taken by large groups of people.  You and a small group of your friends cannot solve most of the important problems facing our world today by yourselves. You must secure the active cooperation of others who may not be as interested and knowledgeable about the problem you wish to solve as you are.  How do you get such cooperation?  One of the best methods of getting others to act is persuasion.  The persuasive purpose focuses upon fostering both attitude and behavioral changes.

The entertainment purpose of communication is pervasive ranging from jokes you share with friends to the sports and games you play as well as the adventures you undertake. Entertainment provides people with a diversion from their workaday lives. As leisure time increases, we engage in recreational activities to fill that time.

Several other general purposes of communication can be derived by combining aspects of the four mentioned above.  Although not specifically considered in the remainder of this unit, these are some of the derived general purposes.  The employment-seeking purpose typically occurs during interviews where the employer is striving to gain information about the respondent, give information about the company, and persuade the interviewee that the job is a good one.  Similarly, the interviewee strives to learn more about the job, give information about him/herself, and persuade the employer he/she is the best person for the job.  The appraisal, reprimanding, and counseling purposes normally involve some information-getting and -giving, some problem-solving, and some persuasion.  The complaint-receiving purpose often involves both information-getting and problem-solving.

Specific Purposes of Communication

In the early stages of planning structured communication encounters, it is wise to specify not only your general purpose but your specific purpose(s) also.  A specific purpose specifies the precise response to a topic that you are seeking from participants in the encounter.  For instance, your general purpose may be to persuade; your specific purpose may be to get your friend to lose weight.  You may have a information-getting purpose; specifically, you may want to find voter attitudes toward pending gambling legislation.  Or again your general purpose may be persuasion, but this time your specific purpose may be to get people to vote against pending gambling legislation.

Three elements must be considered when formulating a specific purpose:  the precise response, the topic, and the participants. Your precise response must be consistent with your general purpose.  If your general purpose is to inform, the precise response would have something to do with increasing knowledge or learning.   Precise responses for persuasive presentations range considerably:  you may want to reinforce or change an attitude; to adopt, modify, or stop a behavior; etc.

The topic affects how a specific purpose is stated.  Very often the topic of communication is specified by someone other than your self.  But many times you have control over the selection of the topic.  The choice of socially significant or important topics enhances your credibility and marks you as a person concerned about the welfare of others.

The participants affect the construction of a specific purpose.  Trying to get people outside the city limits to vote for a mayor of a city would not be a reasonable specific purpose.  The participants place constraints upon the precise response we seek from an encounter.

Stating a specific purpose early in the game lays the foundation for preparing for the encounter.  It also specifies what must be accomplished in order for the encounter to be deemed a success.  The specific purpose is a very important measure of effectiveness in communication encounters.


THE INFORMATION-GETTING GENERAL PURPOSE

UNIT OBJECTIVE 02:  DESCRIBE THE INFORMATION-GETTING PURPOSE OF COMMUNICATION.

What we want to consider now is one of the general purposes of communication:  the information-getting purpose.  In an indirect way, we already have considered the information-getting purpose in Unit 3, the unit on listening.  Generally when we listen in order to acquire answers to definite questions, to understand directions, to obtain news of current interest, to acquire the opinions and views of others, etc., we have an information-getting purpose.  We seek information in order to learn about and, consequently, to adapt to our environment.

The information we try to obtain from others is not always about things and relationships among things.  We may also desire information about people and characteristics of people--their beliefs, attitudes, and feelings.  Information-getting may mean "belief-getting" or "attitude-getting" or "feeling-getting" as well as fact gathering.

Why are we emphasizing this point?  Our experience has shown us that students are quick to grasp the first notion about the information-getting purpose.  They already know that you have this purpose when you collect information about some topic for a discussion, speech, or theme.  But they sometimes overlook the second notion of finding out about people.  When you try to find out what a person is like, what her perceptions of herself are, what her views of others are, you have an information-getting purpose.  Many times we think of information as something like the 1990 census figures, the dates and locations of the major battles in Viet Nam, the chemical properties of H2SO4, etc.  But "information" can also be about people's interests, values, tastes, etc.

Although we may seek information or explore what we already know about a topic at the intrapersonal level and seek information  through public hearings at the public level, information-getting encounters most typically occur at the interpersonal level of communicative interaction.  Both information-getting interviews and information-getting group discussions (or learning discussions) are frequently conducted to supplement our knowledge.  In order to achieve the information-getting purpose in an effective way, we must possess suitable attitudes, abilities, and an appropriate format to guide us through the encounter.

Attitudes and Abilities

An open-minded attitude is an essential prerequisite to productive information gathering.  The preconceptions and assumptions of the investigator must be held in check.  As part of the preparation for information gathering, the investigator should routinely discover and examine the biases, prejudices, pet theories, etc., he has concerning the matter under investigation. He should then work to control the effects of such predispositions.  An open-minded attitude does not mean the investigator is totally free of bias; it is impossible for a human being to erase all preconceptions from her memory banks at will.  But it is possible for a person to make allowances for her biases and to make controlled observations.

The discovery of relevant and significant information places extensive demands on our abilities to ask effective questions and to accurately input and process the answers they elicit.  Unit 7, the interviewing unit, goes into considerable detail on the art of asking questions.  We have considered previously our ability to listen effectively in Unit 3 and the ability to separate observations from inferences in Unit 4.  Any time we have an information-getting purpose, the abilities to (1) ask effective questions, (2) listen effectively, and (3) separate fact from inference are of paramount importance.

An Information-Getting Format

It is also essential to have a systematic approach to the subject under investigation.  Most information-getting encounters can be divided into three major parts:   

The Introduction    

The Body

The Conclusion

In general, the introduction should arouse the interest of the participants in the encounter, establish the credibility of the participants, and orient the participants to the subject under consideration.  The conclusion should summarize the main points in the investigation, secure any corrections or additions to the proceedings, and clearly establish where the participants "should go from here."

The body focuses on the investigation of the subject under consideration in both the interview and group discussion. However, the specific chain of events in the body of the interview is somewhat different from that of the group discussion.  Let us consider both types of information-getting encounters separately.

FORMAT FOR BODY OF THE INTERVIEW

Suppose you are interested in finding our what the local police department is doing about the drug problem and decide to interview some police officials.  During your planning operation before the actual interviews, you would need to clearly define and delimit your topic of inquiry.  Also you would need to break down your main topic into the subtopics about which you want to ask specific questions.  You would formulate questions designed to cover each of the areas prior to the interviews.

During the actual interviews, you would ask the questions developed during your planning operations.  Hence, the body of an information-getting interview consists primarily of asking questions and recording responses.  In essence, the body of the actual interviews consists of your investigation of the matter under consideration.

FORMAT FOR BODY OF THE LEARNING DISCUSSION

Definition, analysis, and investigation are the three steps that occur during actual group sessions in the substantive phase of an information-getting or learning discussion.  It may be that a group deals with more than one step in a given session, or it might take the group several sessions to accomplish one step.

Step One:  Definition.  After the introduction, the group translates the topic into a question and carefully examines each term in the question.  During the definitional step you should:

A.  State the specific question the group should try to answer. 

B.  Define any unclear terms.   

Step Two:  Analysis.  After the group arrives at a satisfactory understanding of the question under consideration, the group weighs the importance of the question and narrows the scope of the discussion to those areas that seem most significant.  In this step, you should:  

A.  Discover the importance of the question to the group members. 

B.  Divide the question into subsidiary questions.  (For typical patterns of organization, see Unit 10.)    

C.  Decide on which subquestions the discussion should be focused.

D.  Summarize the analysis

Toward the conclusion of the analysis step, the group as a whole should summarize the topics resulting from the narrowing-down process, and it should decide on the order of investigation.  See Unit 10 for suggestions concerning the organization of topics. 

Step Three:  Investigation.  The members of the group should investigate systematically and in order each topic chosen as a result of the analysis.  The subsequent discussion of each topic typically centers around the following activities:  

A.  Clarify any unclear terms in the subquestion.    

B.  Consider the historical, social, economic, political, etc., context surrounding the subquestion.

C.  Consider the personal experiences of group members that are relevant to the subquestion being discussed.

D.  Present pertinent evidence and reasoning on the subquestion.  (See Unit 8 for how to evaluate evidence and reasoning.)    

E.  Draw appropriate inferences and/or conclusions.    

After each of the topics has been thoroughly investigated by the group, the group moves to the conclusion of the information getting format.

In summary, the complete information-getting format for both the interview and discussion includes an introduction, body, and conclusion.  The introduction and conclusion are quite similar in both.  However, the body of an interview consists primarily of investigating the subject under study, whereas the body of a group discussion includes the definition, analysis, and investigation of the subject being considered. 


THE INFORMATION-GIVING PURPOSE

UNIT OBJECTIVE 03:  DESCRIBE THE INFORMATION-GIVING PURPOSE OF COMMUNICATION.  

Just as the information-getting purpose demands highly developed inputting and processing skills, the information-giving purpose challenges our ability to process and output information effectively.  In many respects, information-giving is the mirror image of information-getting.  With information-getting, learning is the object, and we are the learners.  With information-giving, learning is also the object; but we want other people to learn about us and the things we know.

The information-giving purpose occurs frequently at all levels of communication interaction.  It occurs when we communicate intrapersonally and interpersonally or transmit messages to an audience.  In all cases the attitudes, abilities, and format required for this purpose are the same.

Attitudes and Abilities

In order to give information effectively, we must have the desire to be understood by the information receiver.  This concern for the understanding of the partners in the communication encounter is the key attitude.  It is this desire that encourages the information-giver to speak from the viewpoint of the listener rather than from his/her own frame of reference. 

The ability to output both verbal and nonverbal information effectively is a necessity.  Verbal and nonverbal messages must be interesting and clear so that they will be remembered by the receivers.  Before attempting assessments involving an information-giving purpose, you should master the concepts, principles, and techniques developed in Unit 10 and Unit 11.  These units help perfect your verbal outputting in the areas of organizing, supporting, and wording messages and help perfect your delivery of vocal and bodily nonverbal messages  You should study these two units before proceeding.

An Information-Giving Format

Like the information-getting format, the information-giving format can be divided into three basic phases:

The Introduction    

The Body

The Conclusion

In addition to arousing the interest of the participants in the encounter, establishing the credibility of the participants, and orienting the participants to the subject under consideration, the introduction has two additional duties to perform.  It should (1) indicate why the participants need the information and (2) preview or summarize the points that will be developed during the substantive phase.  Let us look at each of these two additional duties in more detail.

First, the information should be related to the participants in the encounter.  Perhaps the information simply fulfills the curiosity of the participants, or maybe the information is necessary for more impelling reasons.  In terms of the hierarchy of needs examined in Unit 6, what needs should this information satisfy?

1.  Physiological or survival needs?  

2.  Safety or security needs?   

3.  Affection or affiliation needs?   

4.  Achievement or self-esteem needs? 

5.  Self-fulfillment or self-actualization needs?    

A transceiver analysis profile of your partners in the encounter will help discover the appropriate needs.

Second, the subject or topic should be broken into the two or three major divisions that will be covered.  This partitioning of  the subject should preview what is to be presented in the next step.  It should be a kind of initial summary of what is to follow.  The division of the subject should be organized in a pattern appropriate to the subject and appropriate to the listeners.  Sometimes the most "logical" pattern of arrangement is not the best sequence because it is not familiar to the listeners. It is essential to sequence your material in terms of the listeners.  Always start where the listener is, not where your are.  Of course your transceiver analysis profile will once again help you out on this score. 

The conclusion should include a final summary of the points covered, an opportunity for the listeners to receive further clarification on any points that may be hazy to them, and a definite indication of where the participants "should go from here" or what should be done with the information.

The body typically presents the detailed information on the subject being learned about.  In this step each point suggested in the introductory phase should be brought up in the order in which it was previewed.  Detailed information should be presented for each point.  Use a variety of ways to develop your points.  Often information is not remembered because it is not interesting.  Illustrations and instances are much more interesting than dry explanation.  In short, this step should be developed using the concepts, principles, and techniques presented in Unit 10.

You may have noticed that during the introduction, the information-giver essentially "tells 'em what she's going to tell 'em"; she "tells 'em" during the body; and then she "tells 'em what she told 'em she was going to tell 'em" in the conclusion.  Because repetition is necessary for memory, the information-giving format makes much use of summaries:  previews, internal reviews or flashbacks, wrap-up transitions, and final summaries. 

Interpersonal vs. Public Encounters 

When information-giving takes place in a dyad or small group, the information-giver will spend about as much time listening as speaking.  He uses the question-answer process to find his partners' areas of interest, to find their areas of expertise, to find out what they already know about the subject.  It is through listening that the information-giver discovers the needs of the participants; it is through listening and spontaneous transceiver analysis that he is able to adapt his information to others.  As he presents the information, he is able to look for signs of misunderstanding, to ask the respondent to paraphrase his interpretation of difficult points, and to invite questions from his partners.

One of the most frequent mistakes of beginning students is to assume the information-giving in interpersonal encounters means that the information-giver does most or all of the speaking.  To do most or all of the transmission would be to fail to take advantage of the unique opportunities for increased comprehension, and hence learning, offered by interpersonal encounters. 

Of course public encounters require considerable reliance on anticipated listener responses and prior analysis.  The value of a transceiver analysis profile cannot be overstated for a public presentation.  Although an information-giver can invite questions from the audience during or after her presentation, she must depend for the most part on her ability to draw appropriate inferences about probable audience reactions in order to avoid misinterpretation of material. 


THE PROBLEM-SOLVING GENERAL PURPOSE 
  

UNIT OBJECTIVE 04:  DESCRIBE THE PROBLEM-SOLVING PURPOSE OF COMMUNICATION.  

In the first section of this unit we explored the concepts of general purpose and specific purpose in communication.  Now we will explore problem-solving as one of these general purposes. Problems occur when our goals are blocked by barriers or obstacles.  We devise solutions in order to permit us to reach our goals by reducing, circumventing, or overcoming these barriers.  In communication, we have a problem-solving purpose when we receive and transmit messages with the intention of overcoming barriers to our desired goals. 

Just as the information-getting purpose places extraordinary demands on the transceiver's ability to input information accurately, the problem-solving purpose requires exceptional precision in the processing of information.  As suggested in Unit 4, effective processing means, in part, critical thinking or problem-solving thinking.  Whether your focus is the intrapersonal or interpersonal or public level of communicative interaction, the problem-solving purpose requires that you have appropriate attitudes, abilities, and a systematic plan of attack.  

Attitudes and Abilities 

The problem-solving purpose demands a nonemotional attitude and an attitude of flexibility.  To sum it up, the purpose requires a scientific attitude.  A scientific attitude is characterized by caution, a healthy skepticism, taking a tentative position, testing repeatedly, experimentation, and controlled observation. 

Among the abilities required by the problem-solving purpose, two stand out:  the ability to evaluate evidence and the ability to evaluate reasoning.  These abilities are described in detail in Unit 8.  You should turn to this section and study the material before proceeding. 

A Problem-Solving Format* 

*This format is based on the model explained in John Dewey, How We Think (Lexington, Mass.:  Heath, 1933).  

We have now discussed two of the demands that a problem solving purpose places on you:  appropriate attitudes and appropriate abilities.  Let us now take a look at that third extremely important requirement--the systematic plan of attack. 

Many times potential problem-solvers fail in their purpose, not because they lack appropriate attitudes and abilities, but because they have no systematic plan for attacking the problem. Having a problem-solving format is essential. 

The system we use in this course is presented below:  

Introduction   

Body     

I.  Definition of the Problem 

II.  Analysis of the Problem   

III.  Establishment of Criteria for the Solution

IV.  Discovery of Possible Solutions 

V.  Selection of Best Solution

VI.  Implementation of Solution 

Conclusion

The introduction attempts to capture the interest of those involved, deal with the credibility of the participating parties, and orient the parties to the situation.  The conclusion attempts to summarize the main points in the encounter and should clearly establish where each participant "should go from here." 

The body of a problem-solving encounter consists of six steps.  Prior to the first step of problem-solving, "something" happens that leaves us feeling confused, perplexed, and baffled. The feeling of disequilibrium is often the first clue that there is a problem--that a goal has been blocked by some barrier. Usually, we do not know immediately what the problem is:  we just have an uncomfortable feeling.  Let us consider each step of the problem-solving format in detail. 

Step One:  Definition of the Problem.  The first step of the problem-solving format is definition of the problem.  One of the biggest problems in problem-solving is figuring out what the problem really is.  We are off to a good start if we can merely verbalize our uncomfortable feelings in the form of a question.  When defining the problem you should:      

A.  State the problem in the form of a question. 

B.  Define any unclear terms. 

Step Two:  Analysis of the Problem.  Often this step is the most demanding in terms of time and effort.  When analyzing the problem you should: 

A.  State the observable effects of the problem. Support the existence of these effects with available statistics, testimony, specific instances, and illustrations.  (See Units 8 and Unit 10 for information about evidence, reasoning, and supporting materials.) 

B.  Cite the causes of the problem.  (Do not overlook historical, social, economic, political, etc., causes. Do not overlook the possibility that the problem is a result of misunderstandings or emotional conflicts.) 

C.  Decide which causal aspects of the problem are amenable to correction. 

Step Three:  Establishment of Criteria for the Solution.  The third step of the problem-solving format is to establish criteria for the solution.  In the light of your analysis of the problem, by what criteria should any proposed plan or remedy be judged?  More specifically: 

A.  State what the solution must do.   

B.  State what the solution must avoid.  (Consider legal, ethical, monetary, time, etc., restrictions.)   

This essential step in the format sets up the standards by which your solution will be judged. 

Step Four:  Discovery of Possible Solutions  The fourth step in the format is to discover possible solutions. This step should be the most permissive, free, and uncritical of all the steps in the format.  One of the biggest mistakes is evaluating, criticizing, and judging each solution as it comes up.  At this point you are interested in the quantity of solutions not the quality. Brainstorming is often highly productive in this step.  Specifically you should:    

A.  State all possible solutions. 

B.  Describe each proposed solution in detail. 

Step Five:  Selection of the Best Solution.  The selection of the best solution involves (1) the evaluation of each possible solution in terms of the criteria established in step three and (2) the choice of the solution you intend to put into effect.  The  following activities may be performed during this step: 

A.  Group the proposed solutions for consideration.   

B.  Discuss the similarities and differences of the proposed solutions.   

C.  Evaluate each of the proposed solutions using the criteria set up in step three. 

D.  Eliminate inadequate solutions and retain adequate solutions for further consideration.   

E.  Decide which solution or combination of solutions should be selected.   

1.  Decide whether undesirable aspects of the selected solution(s) can be eliminated or modified.  

2.  If more than one solution is selected, decide how desirable aspects of each solution can be integrated into a single solution. 

Step Six:  Implementation of Solution.  Too often a person or a group of persons makes a decision and then fails to take action. They fail to set up the machinery for the implementation of the solution.  In this final, important step, you should:     

A.  Decide when and where the solution should be implemented. 

B.  Decide who should be responsible for implementing the solution.   

C.  Decide what action should be taken. 

Let us emphasize that merely naming the steps in the problem solving format does not guarantee that the problem will be solved. Moreover, you should not move mechanically and rigidly through the steps.  For instance, proposed solutions may suggest changes in the analysis of causes or effects, in the criteria, or even in the definition of the problem.  But having a problem-solving format offers a systematic approach that gives you a good chance of coming up with a satisfactory solution. 

You should now be able to describe the characteristics of a problem-solving purpose.  You should be able to characterize the attitudes, abilities, and format that are necessary for achieving your problem-solving purpose. 

Interpersonal vs. Public Encounters 

Like the information-giver in a dyad or small group, the problem-solver will spend at least as much time listening as speaking.  She uses the question-answer process to find her partners' areas of interest, to find their areas of expertise, to find out what they already know about the problem.  It is through listening that the problem-solver discovers the needs and values of the participants.  During the problem-solving session, she is able to look for signs of misunderstanding, to ask the respondent to paraphrase his interpretation of difficult points, and to invite questions from her partners.   

Of course public encounters require considerable reliance on anticipated listener responses and prior analysis.  The value of a transceiver analysis profile cannot be overstated for a public presentation.  Although a problem-solver can invite questions from the audience during or after her presentation, she must depend for the most part on her ability to draw appropriate inferences about probable audience reactions the problem under consideration. 


THE PERSUASIVE GENERAL PURPOSE

UNIT OBJECTIVE 05:  DESCRIBE THE PERSUASIVE PURPOSE OF COMMUNICATION.   

You have a persuasive purpose in communication when you receive and send messages in order to promote desired changes in attitudes and/or behavior in yourself or others.

Notice that we use the term "promote."  If I am interested in persuading you to do something and if that "something" gets done, you were the one who had the power of decision.  I as the persuader can set up conditions that promote changes in attitude or behavior, but you as the persuadee have the power to decide if the changes will be accepted or rejected.  I as a persuader cannot literally change you:  if the changes come about, it is you--as the persuadee--who does the changing.

Notice also that we speak of desired changes.  This means that before persuasion can take place, the persuadee must want the changes to take place.  It is this notion that separates persuasion from coercion and intimidation.  Both coercion and intimidation promote changes through the threat or use of force.  They promote changes whether the individual desires the changes or not.  Coercion and intimidation force acceptance of changes in attitudes and/or behavior.

There is a variety of changes in attitude and/or behavior a persuader may want to promote.  For instance, she may be interested in getting us to adopt an attitude or behavior we do not presently possess.  She may try to deter us from believing something or doing something someone else is advocating.  Or she may attempt to strengthen or reinforce an opinion or behavior we already have.  It may be that she desires for us to discontinue believing in something or acting in a certain way.  These are four of the changes a persuader may request. 

Let us consider the attitudes, abilities, and format necessary for successful persuasion. 

Attitudes and Abilities 

Because the effective persuader has a persuadee-centered attitude, you should have a thorough understanding of Unit 6, "Transceiver Analysis," before proceeding.  A persuader works through the persuadee's self perceptions in order to achieve an effect.  He realizes a persuadee who feels totally satisfied with his present lot will not change his attitude and/or behavior simply because someone asks him to do so.  A persuadee-centered attitude compels an effective persuader to discover the relevant areas of dissatisfaction within a persuadee. 

In addition, the effective persuader must have the ability (1) to make the persuadee aware of her own dissatisfactions and (2) to present the advocated attitude and/or behavior change as the best way of overcoming the persuadee's dissatisfactions. 

For instance, if I feel perfectly satisfied with the lighting along the streets of my city, it is unlikely that I will vote to increase my taxes for better lighting.  Suppose you are interested in persuading me to vote for better lighting.  Upon constructing a walk home from work after the sun has set.   Moreover, you may conclude in the profile that I have high priority safety and security needs.  You as a persuader may try to break through my complacency on the lighting issue by relating vivid incidents of people being mugged or killed while walking after dark.  If you are able to alert me to the inconsistency between my cognition that it is okay for me to walk home from work and the cognition that it is dangerous being out after dark, I will experience an uncomfortable tension.  This felt dissatisfaction is sometimes called "cognitive dissonance."*  

*See Leon Festinger, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Evanston, Ill.:  Row, Peterson, 1957). 

Not only can you promote cognitive dissonance by presenting new information that is contradictory, discrepant, or inconsistent with my need-related perceptions, you can make me aware of contradictory, discrepant, or inconsistent cognitions I already hold.  If I believed that "dark streets are unsafe" and that "I am safe on the streets at night," you could promote cognitive dissonance by making me aware of the discrepancy of these two beliefs.  At any rate, once I experience cognitive dissonance, I seek to release this uncomfortable tension.  You as a persuader may suggest that I vote for the lighting project as a way of restoring cognitive balance. You may help me reduce the uncomfortable tension by supplying the cognition that will make everything right for me again--"better lighting means safer streets." 

However, the experiencing of cognitive dissonance does not necessarily mean that the persuadee will accept the attitude or behavior being promoted by the persuader.  Most certainly, the persuadee strives to eliminate the uncomfortable tension by restoring her system to a state of balance.  Accepting the attitude or behavior is only one of the alternatives open to the persuadee. 

What are some of the other alternatives?  (1) The persuadee may choose not to believe the persuader.  For instance, I may say that you made up those stories about people being mugged or killed.  (2) The persuadee may rationalize by saying, "It may apply, but not to me."  I may convince myself that muggings and killings do not occur in my part of town.  (3) The persuadee may become angry and repress the information.  I might get mad at you and forget about the whole thing.  (4) The persuadee may accept some change other than that proposed by the persuader.  Instead of voting to provide better lighting along our city streets, I may cope with my safety need--the fear of being mugged or killed--by staying off the streets at night or buying a gun. 

The persuader can increase the likelihood that the persuadee will perceive the proposed attitude or behavior as the best way of eliminating the dissonance and restoring cognitive balance.  The persuader can do this by showing that the proposed attitude and/or behavior meets the persuadee's important needs more fully than the persuadee's old attitudes and/or behaviors and more fully than any other proposal.  

From the foregoing, the close relation between a persuadee centered attitude and the abilities to promote and then to aid in the reduction of cognitive dissonance should be evident.  Unless the persuader knows the persuadee well enough to infer his top priority needs correctly, the promotion of cognitive dissonance become a hit-or-miss proposition.  The person who has strong achievement needs would probably experience little dissonance hearing about muggings or killings.  However, he might experience quite a bit of tension if it were brought to his attention that fewer and fewer customers are shopping at his stores at night. 

A Persuasive Format 

The persuasive sequence suggested for this course consists of the:  

Introduction   

The Body 

I.  Definition of Problem

II.  Analysis of Problem 

III.  Establishment of Criteria for the Solution

IV.  Development of the Solution

V.  Implementation of the Solution   

Conclusion 

The introduction should arouse the interest of the participants in the encounter, establish the credibility of the persuader, and orient the participants to the problem.  The conclusion should summarize the main points, challenge the persuadee(s) to act or adopt the proposal, and clearly indicate "where the participants should go from here." 

Essentially the body of a persuasive presentation is derived from the six steps in the problem-solving format.  The main difference in the problem-solving format and the persuasive sequence is that we usually telescope steps four and five into one step.  So for the complete persuasive presentation--one that develops a problem and solution--we have these things happening in the body part of the presentation: 

I.  Define the problem in terms of persuadee needs.  

A.  Make a clear statement of the problem.    

B.  Define any unclear terms. 

II.  Analyze the problem in terms of persuadee needs. (Creation of cognitive dissonance during this step.) 

A.  State the observable effects of the problem. (Use vivid forms of support to describe the situation; see "forms of support" in Unit 10. Use appropriate evidence to prove an unsatisfactory situation exists; see "evaluating evidence" in Unit 8.) 

B.  Cite the causes of the problem.  (See "forms of support" in Unit 10 and "evaluating reasoning" in Unit 8.)     

C.  Emphasize what specific aspects of the present situation must be corrected. 

III.  Establish criteria in terms of persuadee values. 

A.  Suggest what the plan must do. 

B.  Indicate what the plan must avoid.   

IV.   Develop the solution in terms of satisfying persuadee needs.  (Eliminating dissonance and restoring cognitive balance during this step.) 

A.  Describe the proposal in detail.     

B.  Describe how the proposal is desirable in terms of the criteria (i.e., in terms of persuadee values).     

1.  Present vivid forms of support.  

2.  Present sound evidence.   

3.  Present sound reasoning. 

C.  Describe how the proposal avoids undesirabilities in terms of the criteria (i.e., in terms of persuadee values).

1.  Present vivid forms of support.  

2.  Present sound evidence.    

3.  Present sound reasoning.    

V.  Show exactly what the persuadee can do to implement the solution. 

Of course, this format must be adapted to the specific persuadees and topic under consideration.  If the persuadee is already persuaded that a problem exists, only very brief amounts of time will be spent on steps one and two of the format. 

Also, if the persuader breaks down his topic into three major divisions or issues, he will need to preview each contention at the outset of the analysis step.  He will then take up each point in order and go through the analysis step from A to C for the first point, then A to C for the second, and A to C for the third. 

He will then want to summarize the points briefly before considering the criteria for the proposal.  Because of the complexity of many persuasive presentations, summaries of all types--previews, flashbacks, wrap-up transitions, final summaries--are extremely important if the persuadee is to follow the lines of argument. 

Interpersonal vs. Public Encounters 

Similar to information-giving interpersonal encounters, persuasive interpersonal encounters require the persuader to do about as much listening as speaking.  He will make great use of the question-answer process to achieve his purpose--for example, to locate persuadee needs, values, beliefs, etc.  He will work to get the persuadee to aid in the definition and analysis of the problem.  He will be especially concerned in getting the persuadee to aid in the criteria establishment.  After presenting his proposal, the persuader will want to hear the objections the persuadee has in mind; knowing these objections allows him to meet those he can and incorporate the views of the persuadee in a possible compromise solution.  It is extremely important to secure a definite oral or written commitment from the persuadee concerning the implementation of the proposal; the interpersonal encounter provides an excellent opportunity for this commitment. 

Public encounters will not permit you to tailor-make the persuasive message to the persuadees quite so well.  Once again, extensive reliance must be made on a well-conceived and well-thought-out transceiver analysis profile.


THE ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSE

UNIT OBJECTIVE 06:  DESCRIBE THE ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSE OF COMMUNICATION.  

When you have an entertainment purpose, your messages provide a diversion for people. Often humor is used in achieving an entertainment purpose. But scary stories also entertain us. Other entertainment may give us a thrill not experienced in our workaday lives.

The entertainment purpose occurs frequently at all levels of communication interaction.  It occurs when we communicate intrapersonally and interpersonally or transmit messages to an audience.  In all cases the attitudes, abilities, and format required for this purpose are the same.

Attitudes and Abilities

In order to entertain, we must have the desire to please the receiver.  This concern for the gratification of the partners in the communication encounter is the key attitude.  It is this desire that encourages the entertainer to speak from the viewpoint of the listener rather than from his/her own frame of reference. 

The ability to cope with the receiver's expectations is essential.  Just as the persuader must be able to create and then reduce cognitive dissonance in the minds of her receivers, the entertainer must be skilled in surprising us with an unexpected turn. Sporting activities, games, action adventures, and comedy all rest on the element of surprise inherent in the unknown outcomes of the events.

Coping with expectations is a special case of creating and reducing cognitive dissonance. People are usually amused when they see a very large, overweight man on a tiny donkey. It is the dissonance between the expected and unexpected that causes us to resolve the matter by smiling or laughing. Video games are addictive because of the uncertainty of the outcome of the game; once we have mastered the games and they become predictable, we lose interest in them.

An Entertainment Format

Like other purposes, the entertainment format can be divided into three basic phases:

The Introduction    

The Body

The Conclusion

The introduction should arouse the interest of the participants in the encounter, establish the credibility of the entertainer, and orient the participants to what will happen in the encounter.  The issue of interest is critical in achieving an entertainment purpose. Factors of attention or interest include activity or movement, reality, proximity, familiarity, novelty, suspense, conflict, humor, and the vital. The image that the entertainer projects must gain the goodwill of the receivers. Also, setting the stage with a proper orientation is critical.

The conclusion should summarize the main points, give a sense of finality, and clearly indicate "where the participants should go from here." Your want the receivers to leave the encounter with the desire to return again for more

Like the information-giving format, the body typically presents the detailed information on the topic of entertainment. For instance, many standup comics will make a point and then support the point with a variety of illustrations and instances. They will make a transition to the second point and develop it with a variety of forms of support. They continue this process until they have completed their routine.

Interpersonal vs. Public Encounters 

Similar to persuasive interpersonal encounters, entertainment encounters require the entertainer to do about as much listening as speaking.  He will make great use of the question-answer process to achieve his purpose--for example, to locate receiver needs, values, beliefs, etc.  He will work to get the persuadee to aid in the entertainment 

Public encounters will not permit you to tailor-make the entertainment message to the listeners quite so well.  Once again, extensive reliance must be made on a well-conceived and well-thought-out transceiver analysis profile.


REVIEW
 

You have met the objectives of this unit if you can 

Name five general purposes of communication, and construct sample specific purposes based on each. 

Describe the information-getting purpose of communication. 

Describe the information-giving purpose of communication. 

Describe the problem-solving purpose of communication.  

Describe the persuasive purpose of communication.  

Describe the entertainment purpose of communication. 

In this unit we have presented five general reasons or purposes for communication: to get information, to give information, to solve problems, to persuade, and to entertain.  The general purpose must be further focused into a specific purpose that states the precise response to a topic that the communicator is seeking from the other participants involved in the encounter.

Learning is the shared goal for both information-getting and -giving.  The information-getter needs to be open-minded and needs to ask effective questions, to listen effectively, and to separate fact from inference.  The information-giver must desire to be understood and must be able to output both verbal and nonverbal information effectively.   The goal of problem-solving is to find viable solutions to blocked goals.  The problem-solver needs to have a scientific attitude and to be able to evaluates both evidence and reasoning.  The goal of persuasion is to effect voluntary changes in attitudes and/or behavior.  This requires a persuadee-centered attitude and the ability to create and resolve cognitive dissonance in the  persuadees. Entertainment provides a diversion for people. The entertainer should possess a desire to please and the ability to manage the expectations of the listener or audience.

Introduction and conclusion have common features regardless of general purpose.   Gaining interest, establishing credibility, and orienting others to the topic takes place in the introduction. Refocusing, summarizing, and conveying a sense of finality takes place in the conclusion. 

In addition, learning purposes usually suggest additional sources of information on the topic in the conclusion, and information-getting encounters ask for corrections and additions in the conclusion.  Information-giving introductions develop a need to know about the topic and present an initial summary of the points to be covered.  A strong challenge or appeal is a requirement in the conclusion of a persuasive presentation.

The substantive format dictated by a given general purpose may vary considerably.  Bodies for information-getting may consist of question-asking or definition, analysis, and investigation. The body for an information-giving purpose requires the detailed development of points outlined in the initial summary.  A problem solving purpose demands definition, analysis, criteria establishment, alternative solutions, the best solution, and implementation.  The body for a persuasive purpose follows five of the six steps of the problem-solving format:  all of the alternative solutions are not considered in the persuasive format. The body for an entertainment purpose resembles the body of an information-giving format.

 


UNITS:

Purpose

Research

Climate

Reception

Transmission

Coherence


Table of Contents of this Unit:   

Preview of the Unit

Unit Objective 01, General and Specific Purposes


Unit Objective 02, Information-Getting Purpose  

Unit Objective 03, Information-Giving Purpose   

Unit Objective 04, Problem-Solving Purpose  

Unit Objective 05, Persuasive Purpose    

Unit Objective 06, Entertainment Purpose

Review of the Unit 

Communication Challenges 

For Further Reading


End of the Unit 

 

Table of Contents of Unit:   

Preview of the Unit

Unit Objective 01, General and Specific Purposes


Unit Objective 02, Information-Getting Purpose  

Unit Objective 03, Information-Giving Purpose   

Unit Objective 04, Problem-Solving Purpose  

Unit Objective 05, Persuasive Purpose    

Unit Objective 06, Entertainment Purpose

Review of the Unit 

Communication Challenges 

For Further Reading


End of the Unit  

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Table of Contents of Unit:   

Preview of the Unit

Unit Objective 01, General and Specific Purposes


Unit Objective 02, Information-Getting Purpose  

Unit Objective 03, Information-Giving Purpose   

Unit Objective 04, Problem-Solving Purpose  

Unit Objective 05, Persuasive Purpose    

Unit Objective 06, Entertainment Purpose

Review of the Unit 

Communication Challenges 

For Further Reading


End of the Unit 

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Table of Contents of Unit:   

Preview of the Unit

Unit Objective 01, General and Specific Purposes


Unit Objective 02, Information-Getting Purpose  

Unit Objective 03, Information-Giving Purpose   

Unit Objective 04, Problem-Solving Purpose  

Unit Objective 05, Persuasive Purpose    

Unit Objective 06, Entertainment Purpose

Review of the Unit 

Communication Challenges 

For Further Reading


End of the Unit  
 

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Table of Contents of Unit:   

Preview of the Unit

Unit Objective 01, General and Specific Purposes


Unit Objective 02, Information-Getting Purpose  

Unit Objective 03, Information-Giving Purpose   

Unit Objective 04, Problem-Solving Purpose  

Unit Objective 05, Persuasive Purpose    

Unit Objective 06, Entertainment Purpose

Review of the Unit 

Communication Challenges 

For Further Reading


End of the Unit  

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Table of Contents of Unit:   

Preview of the Unit

Unit Objective 01, General and Specific Purposes


Unit Objective 02, Information-Getting Purpose  

Unit Objective 03, Information-Giving Purpose   

Unit Objective 04, Problem-Solving Purpose  

Unit Objective 05, Persuasive Purpose    

Unit Objective 06, Entertainment Purpose

Review of the Unit 

Communication Challenges 

For Further Reading


End of the Unit  
 

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Table of Contents of Unit:   

Preview of the Unit

Unit Objective 01, General and Specific Purposes


Unit Objective 02, Information-Getting Purpose  

Unit Objective 03, Information-Giving Purpose   

Unit Objective 04, Problem-Solving Purpose  

Unit Objective 05, Persuasive Purpose    

Unit Objective 06, Entertainment Purpose

Review of the Unit 

Communication Challenges 

For Further Reading


End of the Unit  
 

 

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Table of Contents of Unit:   

Preview of the Unit

Unit Objective 01, General and Specific Purposes


Unit Objective 02, Information-Getting Purpose  

Unit Objective 03, Information-Giving Purpose   

Unit Objective 04, Problem-Solving Purpose  

Unit Objective 05, Persuasive Purpose    

Unit Objective 06, Entertainment Purpose

Review of the Unit 

Communication Challenges 

For Further Reading


End of the Unit  

 

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