Persuasion Knowledge Activation & Its Consequences

When we understand the motives of a particular individual's actions towards us, how does it change our reaction to it? Or rather, does it impact our response paradigm at all? If so, what would be the probable reasons for it, and what change does it entail?

Persuasion Knowledge Activation

Persuasion coping behaviors, which are the target's "cognitive and physical activities" before, throughout, and following a persuasion event, are one significant consequence of persuasion knowledge usage. Beliefs, attitudes, and decisions are additional, more "terminal" outcomes.

According to the Persuasion Knowledge Model, the persuasion episode consists of the target's coping mechanisms and the portion of the marketing agent's persuasion strategy that the customer can see directly. According to the model, the persuasion episode contains the effects of persuasion knowledge stimulation and usage. Consumers' coping behaviors and response planning, views, sentiments, and choices are only a few of the outcomes of persuasive knowledge that have been scientifically researched.

Since the target's coping mechanisms and the marketer's attempts at persuasion overlap during the persuasion event, there may be back-and-forth exchanges between the coping mechanisms and other consequences. In other words, the consumer can evaluate the marketer's goals and strategies using their persuasive knowledge. The consumer is inclined to form opinions about the marketing strategy and then act in some way.

The advertiser will likely exhibit more behaviors that could alter the consumer's viewpoints. Because of this, it is evident that persuasion reactions and results entail a recursive process and that all are ultimately influenced by beliefs, behaviors, and decisions, even though coping behaviors and appropriate responses can be assumed as catalysts to more "terminal" outcomes of beliefs, attitudes, and choices.


Many attempts have been made to determine how customers react to various marketing stimuli when their persuasion knowledge is activated. Many marketing methods are utilized in many marketing activities, and research on the effects of persuasive knowledge activation takes this into account. Despite the variety of marketing stimuli, consumers only use a few "coping methods" to respond to marketing −

  • Critical evaluation of the product offering, the opposing argument, and the opposing conduct (the development of attitudes and actions that are opposed to those sparked by the marketing stimulus);

  • A less positive evaluation of the marketing stimulus (compared to when the consumer is unaware of the persuasive nature of the marketing stimulus);

  • A less positive evaluation of the product;

  • Weakening of customer intents and actions towards the product;

  • Less positive evaluation of the firm launching marketing practices;

  • Less favorable assessment of associated subjects (e.g., sponsored event; distributor's items);

  • Support for legal marketing regulation.

Negative Consequences of Persuasion Knowledge Activation

Most research suggests that consumer application of persuasion expertise results in poor persuasion outcomes. There is more resistance to persuasion when customers believe that a marketer's behavior is motivated by a self-serving ulterior motivation, according to findings on mistrust of ulterior intentions. In comparison to when persuasion knowledge is not used, it has been demonstrated that using persuasion knowledge results in less favorable perceptions of a sales agent's sincerity, less favorable evaluations of corporate social responsibility, less favorable attitudes towards the specific brand, higher perceptions of unfairness, increased skepticism, even in the face of genuine assertions, lesser consumer attitude, and reduced choice.

Because of the reactions that result from thinking that someone else is attempting to persuade and control oneself, it is conceivable that many results of the use of persuasive knowledge are unfavorable. This is why the majority of study to date has focused on adverse effects.

Consumers may utilize their information to further their objectives; pursuing objectives only sometimes entails defying marketing pressure. There are instances where people do not react when they are aware of a hidden agenda, as shown by a few research. Hamilton's research on context effects in judgment shows that people intuitively know how to utilize context effects to affect other people's decisions, such as by presenting a choice setting that will motivate others to choose a specific course of action.

Despite knowing this, people continue to be swayed by the menu choices of others, even when they are aware of their hidden motives. In other words, the respondent is favorably impacted by the persuasion endeavor even though they appear to be mindful of the persuader's ulterior goal. There is no evidence of a lousy persuasion result in this instance.

Positive Consequences of Persuasion Knowledge Activation

There needs to be more evidence of the benefits of persuasive knowledge in the study. Kirmani and Campbell, an exception, looked into how customers responded to relational marketing representatives (e.g., salespeople and service personnel). This study demonstrates that customers have positive, goal-seeking tactics and negative, persuasion-sentry reaction techniques. The consumers respond positively and negatively to advertisers to further their objectives. They do not simply react negatively.

The research's findings show that consumers sometimes react negatively to marketing agents when they apply persuasion knowledge is an essential part of the study. When customers can comprehend business motivations, like the incentive to communicate product quality, persuasive information may also result in favorable outcomes. Customers may therefore assume that companies who invest more in advertising and offer more extended warranties produce goods of a higher caliber.

Consumers must believe that companies that invest more in advertising or provide more extended warranties could not do so if the product's overall quality were so poor that these costs could not be recovered by a significant number of sales for this form of attribution to take place. Positive company assessments can result from this kind of persuasion expertise.

Resistance to Persuasion

Although persuasion frequently succeeds in modifying our attitudes, this is only sometimes the case. Many people make for very tough listeners and fiercely oppose any attempts at persuading. The degree to which an consumers can resist persuasion depends on various circumstances.


Every one of us desires personal freedom to choose a stance or express a viewpoint on numerous matters. A competent persuader's pressure to have us alter our opinions or attitudes undermines our independence and makes us more irritated. As a result, we frequently adopt attitudes vehemently opposed to the direction in which the persuader tries to influence us. This propensity of reactance gets more pronounced, and the person is strongly driven to defend his or her attitude from persuasion when they perceive a persuasive attempt as a direct danger to their image as independent. According to studies, weaker or more reasonable arguments have a higher chance of convincing in circumstances where reactance is activated than stronger ones.


There are a few instances where we are aware that the persuasive message is intended to alter our perception before we are even exposed to it. For instance, whenever we turn on our televisions, we know that the commercials are specifically created to increase the likelihood that viewers would purchase the product. Similarly, we can infer from listening to political campaign speakers that they will urge voters to support a particular political party. According to studies, people are less receptive to persuasive messages when they know that communication is intended to affect their opinions; a strategy is known as a forewarning. Because we are aware of the message's purpose in advance, we have plenty of time to develop defenses against the persuasive message's ability to persuade. As a result, we are cognitively more equipped to defend our opinions in such circumstances.

Selective Exposure

Once attitudes are developed, they become an intrinsic part of who we are, and as a result, we have a solid propensity to guard them. We often pay attention to information supporting our current attitudes and actively ignore what contradicts them. When watching television, we switch the channel during commercials to avoid being influenced by sales pitches. By exposing ourselves to information that supports our beliefs and ignoring information that does not, our attitudes are preserved and last longer.


According to studies, we become less susceptible to persuasion when we actively counter the message's inconsistency with our attitudes. This is especially true for opinions initially established using compelling logic and thorough justification. Fighting against a message that goes against our attitudes further justifies our attitudes, strengthening the already-held attitudes.


Nothing indicates that persuasion knowledge will always produce less favorable results for the persuasion operator than when persuasion information is not applied. The study shows that the employment of persuasion knowledge does, however, have more detrimental than sound effects. The engagement of persuasion information may cause customers to be wary, resulting in less favorable opinions of marketers, enabling consumers to avoid being persuaded needlessly. Consumers can, however, also employ persuasion skills to accomplish their objectives. The circumstances in which persuasion expertise may produce favorable results require further study.

Updated on: 06-Mar-2023


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