Persuasion Social Influence and Compliance Gaining 5th Edition by Robert H Gass – Test Bank


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Chapter 5: Communicator Characteristics and Persuadability


Key Terms and Concepts


demographic variables; age, gender, ethnicity, intelligence

life-stage hypothesis

Reinforcement Expectancy Theory

cross-sex effect

collectivistic cultures

individualistic cultures

empowerment vs. confianza


traits versus states



preference for consistency

high/low self-monitoring

Social Judgment Theory


anchor point

latitudes of acceptance, rejection, and noncommitment

contrast and assimilation effects

ego-involvement vs. issue involvement



social vigilantism

cognitive complexity



simple vs. complex

need for cognition

verbal aggressiveness


analyzing and adapting to audiences


market segmentation (Box 5.2)



Chapter Summary

  1. Demographic variables related to persuasion include age, gender, ethnicity, and intelligence.
  2. Age and persuasion

1) Young children are especially vulnerable to persuasive appeals.

  1. (Box 5.1) Children are highly susceptible to persuasive tactics from strangers. A brief list of the lures and prevention strategies are provided.
  2. Advertisers use several devices to persuade children and attract children’s attention.
  3. Growing older and parental advice on how to scrutinize persuasive messages can protect children from persuasive trickery.

2) The life-stage hypothesis suggests that there is a curvilinear relationship between age and persuasion, i.e., compared to youthful and elderly people, middle-aged people are less persuadable.

  1. Gender and Persuasion

1) Males tend to be more persuasive than females, but not because of males’ ability or skill.

  1. Gender stereotypes cause audiences to perceive males as more competent than females and to expect females to be more warm and nurturing than males.
  2. Women experience a double bind: they must not only perform better than men to be considered equally competent, they are also perceived negatively when they try to be direct, assertive, and forceful.
  3. Reinforcement Expectancy Theory suggests that, when influencing patients, female doctors (compared to male doctors) are at a disadvantage because they are constrained by stereotypes regarding appropriate influence tactics for females.

2) Early studies indicated that women were more persuadable than men, but later studies find no such differences between men and women.

3) If gender differences in persuadability are observed, it may be because:

  1. Women may be more empowered today than they were when previous studies were conducted.
  2. A cross-sex effect, in which people are more persuaded by members of the opposite sex than by members of the same sex.
  3. Men and women may differ in terms of their goals, plans, beliefs, and resources, and these, in turn, may lead to gender differences in persuasion.
  4. Ethnicity, Culture, and Persuasion

1) Individualistic cultures are more persuaded by appeals to independence and personal benefit, while collectivistic cultures are more persuaded by appeals to harmony, group goals, and concern for others.

2) People from individualistic cultures tend to view themselves consistently across situations, while those in collectivistic cultures tend to view the self as more malleable.

3) When seeking compliance, cultures also differ with regard to directness, concern for saving face, emphasizing trust, and empowerment.

4) Wiseman et. al. (2009) found that people from Japan may switch cultural orientations depending upon the situation. This finding suggests that collectivism and individualism may not be opposite orientations.

5) Saving face through hinting, setting an example by one’s own actions, and feeding people what they relish are three additional influence tactics that reflect cultural values.

  1. Intelligence and Persuasion

1) Early research suggested that moderately intelligent people would be more persuadable because:

  1. Intelligent people would not yield to a message.
  2. Less intelligent people would not comprehend a message.

2) Recent summaries of research suggest that less intelligent people are the easiest to persuade.

  1. Researchers have examined various traits and states as they relate to persuasion in order to classify individuals based on their differences and explain why certain persuasive strategies are employed.
  2. People with moderately high self-esteem are more persuadable than are people with high or low self-esteem.
  3. The relationship between anxiety and persuasion is not clear, though we do know that strong fear appeals should not be used on chronically anxious people.
  4. High self-monitors, compared to low self-monitors, pay close attention to their own and others’ behavior in order to behave appropriately in a given context.

1) High self-monitors are persuaded to do things when it makes them fit in or look good.

2) Low self-monitors are persuaded by the quality of a product.

  1. Because people with a high preference for consistency (PFC) strive to be consistent, while those with a low

preference for consistency do not, high PFCs are more susceptible to the effects of cognitive dissonance.

  1. Social Judgment Theory (SJT) suggests that ego-involved people are difficult to persuade.

1) SJT suggest that on all topics, a person has a most preferred position called an anchor point.

2) Positions that a person finds acceptable fall within a latitude of acceptance, positions a person finds unacceptable fall within a latitude of rejection, and positions a person is neutral about fall within a latitude of noncommitment.

3) Ego-involved people have narrow latitudes of acceptance and are difficult to persuade.

4) A contrast effect occurs when a persuasive message is perceived to be farther away from the anchor point than it was to begin with.

5) An assimilation effect occurs when a persuasive message is perceived to be closer to the anchor point than it was to begin with.

  1. Issue involvement affects how people process messages and, in turn, how persuadable they will be.

1) An individual’s involvement can be ego-related (value-relevant) whereby the persuasive message is gauged by the enduring values rooted in her/his self-concept.

2) Otherwise, an individual can consider her/his outcome-relevant involvement (issue), as defined by her/his current goals and outcomes, when assessing a persuasive message.

3) Issue-involved people scrutinize messages and are persuaded by strong arguments.

4) People who are not involved in an issue are persuaded by peripheral cues.

  1. People who are dogmatic, authoritarian, and social vigilantes think their beliefs are superior to others’ beliefs.

1) Dogmatic and authoritarian people are close-minded and tend to follow authorities blindly.

2) Research regarding the persuadability of “high dogs” and authoritarian people is inconsistent, though inconsistencies may be reconciled by considering source and message factors.

  1. High “dogs” and authoritarian people are difficult to persuade unless the persuader is perceived to be an authority or an expert.
  2. High “dogs” and authoritarian people are more persuaded by strong arguments than by weak ones when receiving persuasive messages from non-experts.
  3. High “dogs” and authoritarian people may be vulnerable to persuasive messages that are threatening.

3) Social vigilantes try to impress their beliefs onto others, counterargue more, and are more resistant to

persuasion compared to their counterparts.

  1. Constructivism suggests that people interpret the world using a variety of constructs.

1) Cognitively complex people interpret the world using several constructs and are more tolerant of inconsistent messages.

2) Cognitively simple people interpret the world using few constructs and are less tolerant of inconsistent messages.

  1. People high in the need for cognition enjoy effortful thinking.

1) People high in the need for cognition are more motivated to think about persuasive messages than are people low in the need for cognition.

2) People high in the need for cognition are persuaded by strong arguments, while people low in the need are persuaded by peripheral cues.

  1. Aggressive communication can be either destructive or constructive (or both), depending on the type of aggression and how it affects an interpersonal relationship.

1) Verbal aggressiveness is the tendency to attack others verbally, and it is aimed at damaging another person’s self-concept.

2) Argumentativeness involves the tendency to refute and defend arguments without

engaging in personal attacks.

3) Verbally aggressive people do not “edit” their arguments; people who are not verbally

aggressive do edit their arguments to avoid violating their ethical standards.

4) Yet, aggression may be acceptable in certain situations.

  1. Political attacks that are truthful, relevant, and appropriate are necessary in helping citizens determine who should be elected into public office.

III. Given the varied nature of audiences, it is important to analyze and adapt to them and the communication situation when trying to be persuasive.

  1. Effective audience adaptation requires that persuaders pay attention to situational constraints, and audiences’ values, needs, and characteristics.
  2. (Box 5.2) Market segmentation is a technique used by marketers to categorize audiences and adapt messages accordingly.

1) Marketers generate messages that appeal to specific groups based on factors such as age, zip codes, ethnicity, gender, education, economic              status, and career choice.

2) The potential to segment consumers is limitless as groups continue to develop in the population.



Exercises and Learning Activities


Exercise 5-A, Trait Measure Exercise

Principle Illustrated: Traits and persuasion

Purpose: To examine several states and traits relevant to the study of persuasion and discussed in Chapter 5. To help students understand how states and traits are measured. To enable students to personalize concepts covered in class.

Time Required: 20-30 minutes for each measure


Directions: On the following page you’ll find Web links to three measures discussed in Chapter 5 that you can have your students complete.  Before interpreting students’ scores, we usually explain that if they are unhappy with the results, they should take it in stride.  Although these scales have been tested and found to be generally valid and reliable, there is margin for error.  We should also note that although these scales are continuous measures, we’ve found that in the classroom, scores are easier to interpret when broken into three ranges of scores: high, moderate, and low. That is, we tell students who score in the top range (top 33% of scores), that their score suggests they measure high on a trait/state.  The opposite is true for students who score in the lowest range (bottom 33% of scores). Scores in the middle range suggest a moderate level of the trait.


Self-Monitoring Scale


Source: Snyder, M. (1974). Self-monitoring of expressive behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30 (4), 526-537. Copyright 1974 by the American Psychological Association. Reprinted with permission.


This scale is available online at the following link:


Need for Cognition Scale


Source: Cacioppo, J. T., Petty, R. E., & Kao, C. F. (1984). The efficient assessment of need for cognition.  Journal of Personality Assessment, 48, 306-307. Copyright 1984 by Lawrence Erlbaum, Associates, Inc. Reprinted with permission.


This scale is available online at the following links:


Verbal Aggressiveness Scale


Source: Infante, D. A., & Wigley, C. J., III. (1986). Verbal aggressiveness: An interpersonal model and measure.  Communication Monographs, 53, 61-69. Copyright 1986 by the National Communication Association. Used with permission.


This scale is available online at the following link:


This scale is available through a number of electronic search engines, including Communication and Mass Media Complete (EBSCO), PsychINFO (EBSCO), and Social Sciences Abstracts (OCLC).


Exercise 5-B, Hit Your Target

Principle Illustrated: Audience Analysis

Purpose: To get students thinking about audience analysis by designing persuasive messages that appeal to a particular group.

Time Required: 45 minutes or more


Directions: Before class, decide on three possible persuasive topics and three possible target audiences. One example we’ve used is to ask students how they would persuade the following target audiences to install smoke detectors in their residences:


  1. elderly, senior citizens who own their own home
  2. new immigrants who are renters
  3. fraternity or sorority members living in a frat house


Break the class into groups and give the groups time to decide how they would persuade the assigned audiences. Have each group present their strategies and messages to the rest of the class. Make sure they explain why their strategies should work. Have the rest of the class comment on whether they agree that a particular strategy would work.


Exercise 5-C, Name That Target Audience

Principle Illustrated: Audience Analysis

Purpose: To demonstrate that different messages appeal to different audiences.

Time Required: 20-30 minutes


Directions: Videotape several commercials, show them to your class, and ask students to guess the target audience.  That is, what group of consumers is the advertiser trying to reach? Then ask the class to guess what kind of TV show would carry those kinds of commercials. It helps to show two or three commercials in a row for one type of show, then ask the class to guess the target audience. For example, if the ads are for Geritol, Viagra, health insurance, and so forth, the class should be able to guess that the advertiser is going for an older demographic group: retirees. What kind of TV shows would market to this demographic group? Some possibilities are nature shows, TV ministries, PBS shows, etc.  Also, older reruns of shows like The Rockford Files, Matlock, The Golden Girls, and so on, would appeal to senior citizens. If the ads are for beer, aftershave, and hamburgers, the class should guess the advertiser is aiming at a younger, male demographic group.  Some possible shows might be on MTV, etc.


The instructor will know what shows the ads appeared on (he or she taped them). The instructor, like the class, though, will have to infer what kind of audience is being targeted. This is why it is a good idea to pick specialized shows with specialized audiences.


Try to videotape commercials from specific TV shows with very different viewing audiences.  Examples might be a PGA golf tournament, MTV, a financial news show, or a Saturday morning cartoon. The more specialized the audience, the better.  Prime-time shows that have a broad demographic base, and appeal to lots of consumers of all ages, will probably not work as well.


Web Links


  1. Principles illustrated: Media effects; children and persuasive media campaigns


This link contains an American Psychological Association article that covers a variety of topics related to children and advertising (effects, legislation, etc.).


This site is a portal, or “meta-index,” to Internet-based resources useful in the academic study of media and communication.


  1. Principles illustrated: Social Judgment Theory


This link features a readable and straightforward summary of social judgment theory.


  1. Principle illustrated: Market Segmentation among Latinas


This link offers advice to businesses considering market analysis.


Test Questions


Multiple Choice Questions


  1. Which of the following decreases children’s vulnerability to being persuaded by television advertisements?
  2. repeated exposure to advertisements
  3. family interaction that focuses on looking at ads critically
  4. peer pressure
  5. All of the answers are correct.

Answer: B

Page 98


  1. Males tend to be more persuasive than females, partly because
  2. they are more skilled at persuasion.
  3. audience stereotypes regarding appropriate behavior provide males with more choices when choosing influence strategies.
  4. females are less assertive and forceful when trying to be persuasive.
  5. the influence tactics of males receive more scrutiny than those of females.

Answer: B

Pages 98-99


  1. According to Reinforcement Expectancy Theory,
  2. female doctors are more persuasive than male doctors.
  3. female doctors are more persuasive when using aversive strategies.
  4. female doctors are more persuasive when using positive strategies.
  5. female doctors are most persuasive when they violate patients’ expectations for appropriateness.

Answer: C

Pages 98-99


  1. Lucy, a doctor, is trying to get one of her dangerously obese patients to exercise more. According to Reinforcement Expectancy Theory, which of the following messages would be best for Lucy to use?
  2. “If you don’t start exercising NOW, I predict you have less than a year to live.”
  3. “You have two choices, exercise or diet, and dieting is no fun at all.”
  4. “Regular exercising will make you healthy and help you feel so good.”
  5. “If death isn’t motivation enough to lose weight, I don’t know what is.”

Answer: C

Pages 98-99


  1. Which of the following is generally true of people from collectivistic cultures?
  2. They tend to use persuasive strategies that are appropriate to the context.
  3. They tend to pay more attention to who they are trying to persuade than on anything else.
  4. They are not concerned with “saving face.”
  5. They focus on messages of empowerment.

Answer: A

Page 100


  1. Which of the following slogans would be best suited for a collectivistic culture?
  2. “Making friends everywhere”
  3. “A leader among leaders”
  4. “What you want is what counts”
  5. “You are the best”

Answer: A

Page 100


  1. According to the text, Colombians’ influence attempts center around the concept of confianza, or
  2. saving face.
  3. hinting.
  4. “feeding people what they relish.”
  5. having trust or closeness in a relationship.

Answer: D

Page 101


  1. Based on the studies reviewed in the text, which of the following is true about intelligence and persuasion?


  1. Less intelligent people are generally easier to persuade.
  2. Less intelligent people are generally harder to persuade.
  3. Less intelligent people are generally better at persuading others.
  4. Less intelligent people are generally easier to persuade via the central route than the peripheral route.


Answer: A

Page 101


  1. A/An ______ is stable across situations and a/an ________ varies across situations.
  2. collectivistic culture, individualistic culture
  3. interactionist, situationalist
  4. trait, state
  5. state, trait

Answer: C

Page 102


  1. Babbs is trying to persuade her three friends, James, Peter, and Jacob, to change political parties. While James has always believed that he is inferior to other people, Peter has a healthy self-esteem. Jacob’s self-esteem is somewhere in between, neither strong nor weak. According to what we know about self-esteem and persuasion, who should Babbs have the easiest time persuading?
  2. James
  3. Peter
  4. Jacob
  5. James, Peter, and Jacob should be equally persuadable.

Answer: C

Page 102


  1. Because Cari is very sensitive to how people perceive her, she pays close attention to others’ behavior and is careful to act appropriately in a given situation. Cari can best be described as
  2. a high self-monitor.
  3. a moderate self-monitor.
  4. a low self-monitor.
  5. none of the above.

Answer: A

Page 103


  1. Who would probably be most persuaded by an advertisement promising viewers that using a product would make them popular?
  2. low self-monitors
  3. high self-monitors
  4. highly dogmatic people
  5. people who are not dogmatic

Answer: B

Page 103-104


  1. Kevin wants to try to persuade Bubbles to do something but is not sure it’s possible because Bubbles is so authoritarian. Based on what you know from the text, which type of influence tactic would work best on Bubbles?
  2. promise to reward Bubbles if he complies
  3. hint that Bubbles should do whatever he is asked to do
  4. threaten Bubbles by telling him that something bad will happen if he doesn’t comply
  5. tell Bubbles he’ll be more likeable if he complies

Answer: C

Pages 108-109


  1. Yancy evaluates others solely by whether they are of the same religion as he. According to persuasion researchers, Yancy can be considered to be
  2. socially judgmental.
  3. constructive.
  4. cognitively simple.
  5. cognitively complex.

Answer: C

Pages 109-110


  1. In the terms used in the Elaboration Likelihood Model, a person low in the need for cognition is more likely to be persuaded via the _________ route to persuasion.
  2. serial
  3. parallel
  4. central
  5. peripheral

Answer: D

Page 110


  1. Linda gets very angry with her spouse for not taking care of their children on weekends when she wants to go out with friends. During arguments, she will call him names and threaten to leave him if he doesn’t change his ways. This is an example of
  2. verbal aggressiveness.
  3. hostility.
  4. argumentativeness.
  5. assertiveness.

Answer: A

Page 111


  1. Which theory or model states that messages that fall within a listener’s latitude of acceptance will be assimilated and perceived as closer to the listener’s position than the message actually is?
  2. Reinforcement Expectancy Theory
  3. Elaboration Likelihood Model
  4. Theory of Reasoned Action
  5. Social Judgment Theory

Answer: D

Page 107


  1. Which of the following best describes segmentation analysis?
  2. organizing a message down into discrete units
  3. separating parts of a message that appeal to central processing from parts that appeal to peripheral processing
  4. determining whether receivers are more receptive to ethos, logos, or pathos
  5. tailoring a message to a specific sub-group or niche audience based on their unique characteristics

Answer: D

Page 114


  1. All of the following are reasons why advertisers and marketers are relying increasingly on segmentation to target consumers except
  2. consumers tend to have similar tastes and values because of globalization.
  3. it is difficult to reach most consumers via prime-time TV ads.
  4. niche groups such as teens or gays have considerable purchasing power.
  5. “one size fits all” strategies are no longer effective.

Answer: A

Page 114


  1. Persuaders who target particular “niche” groups, such as soccer moms, Nascar dads, affluent gays, or Hispanic teens, are using
  2. focus groups.
  3. segmentation.
  4. telemarketing.
  5. polling.

Answer: B

Page 114


  1. _______________ are more easily influenced by reference groups than ________________.
  2. High self monitors, low self monitors
  3. Low dogs, high dogs
  4. Males, females
  5. Involved, uninvolved

Answer: A

Page 103


  1. Gretchen is a public speaker who recognizes differences in perspectives among her audiences. She attempts to cater her messages to her listeners and, consequently is more successful at persuading. According to persuasion researchers, Gretchen can be considered
  2. charismatic.
  3. cognitively simple.
  4. cognitively complex.
  5. high in need of cognition.

Answer: C

Page 109-110


  1. Which statement best reflects Gass & Seiter’s perspective on verbal aggression in political campaigns?
  2. Attacks aimed at a politician’s character, so long as they are truthful, are useful in helping voters make an informed choice.
  3. Attacks aimed at a politician’s policy positions are fine, but attacks on a politician’s character cross the line.
  4. Attacks aimed at a politician’s character are unethical and should be avoided.
  5. Attacks aimed at a politician’s character are likely to backfire.

Answer: A

Page 111


  1. When considering the situation, which of the following is true?
  2. A persuader must consider audience members’ traits first and foremost.
  3. A persuader must adapt his/her message to the listener’s frame of reference.
  4. A persuader should aim her/his message at the audience’s latitude of rejection.
  5. A persuader should consider each listener a “blank slate” on which to write her/his message.

Answer: B

Pages 112-113


  1. Pete has an authoritarian personality. Tom has a dogmatic personality. Larry is a social vigilante. Which of these people is most likely to think his beliefs are superior to others’ beliefs, impress his beliefs onto others, argue more, AND be more resistant to persuasion?
  2. Pete.
  3. Tom.
  4. Larry.

Answer: C

Page 109


  1. Which of the following statements best summarizes the life-stage hypothesis?
  2. Compared to youthful and elderly people, middle-aged people are less persuadable.
  3. Children are more susceptible to persuasion than are adults.
  4. Elderly people are more rigid in their beliefs and are therefore more difficult to persuade.
  5. As people grow older, they become more dogmatic.

Answer: A

Page 98


  1. People with a high preference for consistency, compared to people with a low preference for consistency:
  2. are more persuaded by image-oriented advertising
  3. are more susceptible to the effects of cognitive dissonance.
  4. are more likely to experience the contrast effect.
  5. pay closer attention to persuasive messages.

Answer B

Page 103


Essay Questions


  1. What is the relationship between gender and persuasion? Describe at least two explanations researchers have used to explain why gender differences have or have not been found.


  1. You are the member of a marketing firm and have been given the following task: create one or more advertisements for a new car called “Grit.” The advertisement(s) will appear in two magazines, one read by high self-monitors, the other by low self-monitors. Describe the ad(s) you would use and provide a rationale for why you would use them.


  1. You are the member of a marketing firm and have been given the following task: Create one or more advertisements for a new game called “Pow.” The advertisement(s) will appear in two magazines, one read by collectivistic cultures, the other by individualistic cultures. Describe the ad(s) you would use and provide a rationale for why you would use them.


  1. The text discusses the process of analyzing and adapting to audiences. List and discuss the process. What audience characteristics should you be aware of before preparing to deliver a persuasive message? Why are these characteristics important to be aware of?


  1. How are authoritarianism, dogmatism, and social vigilantism related? How are they different? How might these traits influence the sending and receiving of persuasive messages? Provide examples.



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