Obama & Persuasion: How to Become President

This is yet another recycled psychology discussion question, as I seldom have time to do “real” blog posts anymore. Please keep in mind that I don’t necessarily support Obama just because I wrote about him for an assignment. This paper does not reflect my political beliefs.

Identify a figure from politics, religion, business, or television who is known for being particularly effective in persuading others. 

  • Explain in detail why you chose this person.
  • Identify what specific techniques (at least 2) of persuasion that person uses most often.  
  • Do you believe this person is persuasive?  Why or why not?

As cliché as this example may be, who is more persuasive than the President of the United States? Regardless of how you feel about Barack Obama, you cannot deny that he is an amazing public speaker. Obama had a significant win against John McCain. President Obama received the most votes for a presidential candidate in American history, which is why I chose him.

One technique that President Obama uses is the peripheral route to persuasion. This is “the case whereby people do not elaborate on the arguments in a persuasive communication but are instead swayed by peripheral cues.” With this type of persuasion, people pay less attention to the content of the message and more attention to the surface characteristics, such as who is delivering the speech. Obama may not directly and purposefully use this method, but it is effective. Obama is endorsed by George Clooney, one of the most successful and popular actors in the country. I know people who couldn’t tell you whether Obama is a democrat or a republican; they only know that Clooney supports him so they are too.

Fear-arousing communication is also used. This is a “persuasive message that attempts to chance someone’s attitude by arousing their fears.” Obama does play on the fears of many Americans. If you look at his Facebook page, you can see this in motion. He is quoted saying “No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they don’t have the money.” If you’re a voter who has children getting ready to begin applying for colleges, this is a scary thought. Fear will encourage you to vote for Obama, because he will prevent that from happening.

Do I believe Barack Obama is persuasive? Sure I do. He won an election; he must be persuasive. He makes everything sound good. His persuasion techniques were successful once. After November, we’ll see if they are successful once again.


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