I knew I was being manipulated.
My body went into shock and began to fight it… but I gave in.
The only reason I motioned like a zombie from the classroom, to the car, to my sofa, to gawking at the debate was because she planted the idea in my head. Then I was obsessed with what a good idea it was and I was incredibly loyal to it. I watched attentively. And the I became tightly wound with all the intensity.
Because I just came from my class about Theories in Persuasion, I was very aware that the professor played with the class’ perceived severity toward the upcoming election in order to activate our sense of efficacy. Instantaneously, subconsciously, I knew getting informed was something I could do. And in a small way, I believe my response would have some kind of an impact.
Since all of these things were positive actions that I wanted to take, my reactance was not in revolt to her persuasion. I rode it out.
And then I geeked out.
The first words out of the moderator’s mouth were a fear appeal. I went nuts with nerdy excitement! Unbeknownst to most, he used a theory of persuasion to kick off the debate. I knew everyone from my class would breathe a collective giggle all across Orlando.
Let me recap.
Bob Schieffer, the moderator of last night’s foreign policy debate, reminded viewers this was the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s announcement of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Instantly Schieffer activated our sense of fear toward big scary things that go boom. The threat was relevant as we all thought about our future President’s involvement in the threat of other countries using nuclear weapons against us. Not only is that severe, we’re all susceptible because the message arrives on our doorsteps.
Schieffer then gave us something to do about it. Fear appeals are useless if they scare you without giving you any clue of what you can do about it. So Schieffer provided our efficacy, or our perception of our ability to make something happen.
Lucky for all of us, we already were applying self-efficacy by getting informed and can continue that by voting. By voting, we experience response efficacy because we are casting our vote for the man we believe is capable of protecting us from the harm of explosions.
And now I leave you with the mental image of mangled body scraps all over UCF. How real does the potential threat have to feel before we are willing to do anything to participate? JThe benefits outweigh the inconvenience. Just vote.