Steve’s Primer of Practical Persuasion 3.0

Hey, we’re way past Web 2.0 here, baby.  Jump into the Future as I see It with Steve’s Primer of Practical Persuasion, 3.0.

Welcome to the new, revised, and expanded edition of the Web’s most popular persuasion website.  Since 1996 the Primer has delighted, astounded, and stimulated tens, perhaps hundreds, perhaps just my Mom and a few other, stone cold crazy persuasion maniacs. With all these zombies marching in torchlight parade on the castle, I had no choice but to execute a massive revision of the masterly text and produce version 3.0.  Leaving no river uncrossed, no mountain unclimbed, and no stone unturned, unground, or unthrown, I created a worthy successor to the fabulous Primer’s 1.0 and 2.0.  Now that I’ve had my fill of vodka Martini’s and Slim Jim’s, the new Primer is ready for you.  Are you ready for the Primer?

Primer 3.0 contains all the same great content from the original version, but with more chapters, better organization, and a groovy new interface with lots of cool, but fast loading pictures.  Who says there are no second third acts in American life?

Navigating the Primer

Take a moment to look at the top of this page.  The top menu line of the Persuasion Blog contains headers like Home, Navigation, and the Primer; this maneuvers you around the Blog.  If you click on the Primer, a second line will appear.  It contains the Primer main Sections like Intro, Thinking, Feeling, Doing, and so on.  If you click on any of these Sections, you’ll go to a Section page and you’ll see a third menu line appear.  This line will provide headings for each Chapter in the Section as with Thinking – the Elaboration Likelihood Model, the Theory of Planned Behavior, and Attribution.  Clicking on the Chapter on the second menu line will take you to the desired content.

The Structure of the Primer

The Primer 3.0 is arranged in seven major sections:  Intro, Standard Model, Thinking, Feeling, Doing, VAR, and Outro. Within each section you’ll find several chapters tightly connected to the title of the section.  The Primer will probably make more sense if you work through sequentially, but if you’re feeling wicked, just pick one at random.  Your head won’t explode, so go ahead and live dangerously.

The Intro provides basic terms, definitions, and relationships from the fields of communication, persuasion, and epistemology.  That epistemology chapter, Prove It!, is really quite interesting.  Research has shown that “Prove It!” is better liked than “Prove It” alone.  Focus groups thought the exclamation point made a chapter on the scientific method seem funnier, more endearing, and just a little whimsical while losing none of its boring, pedantic, or droning qualities.

The section on the “Standard Model” is cutting edge theorizing ripped from the pages of today’s hottest research journals as published by yours truly.  At the risk of appearing immodest, the Standard Model is my legacy contribution to social science and is the culmination of a long and winding career that has careened from working as a butcher in a hog factory to being a scientific administrator in the CDC for the Federal government of the United States of America.  Is this a great country or what?

“Thinking” is about theories and concepts in persuasion that focus on changing people by changing the way they . . . think.  How about that?  If you thought persuasion was going to be difficult, you’re probably feeling a little better right now.  Good grief, as soon as you saw that section title, “Thinking,” you could have passed the test:

Question 96. The section in Steve’s Primer v3.0 entitled “Thinking” is about:

A. thinking.
B. twenty typed pages long.
C. that funny cartoon with the guy holding the sign, “Think.”
D. the title of Rodin’s sculpture.
E. none of the above.
F. I don’t take no stinking online tests!

Not too surprisingly, the section called “Feeling” is about theories and concepts that change people by changing the way they – all together now – feel.  Yeah, I’m playing it light here, but the theories in this section are well and truly weird.  Dissonance!  Inoculation!  Subliminal!  Everytime I think about these things I am convinced that there really is a human nature and that there is a science of persuasion.  These things are simply too strange for fiction.

The “Doing” concepts and theories are among the oldest approaches to persuasion and influence although attitude change was not the main point for fellows like Pavlov, Watson, and Skinner.  If the “Feeling” concepts make me believe in our human nature, these theories remind me that we’re also animals and the same stupid pet tricks you can elicit from your dog can be had from your best friend if you understand Doing and have no conscience or fear.

VAR is a clever acronym for “Variable Analytic Research,” and to my knowledge is my invention.  Consider it copyrighted and if you use it, you’ve got to cite me.  My attorney only gets paid for finding people who violate this copyright; you are warned.  VAR contains most of the concepts people already know or think they know about persuasion.  VAR is probably the most enjoyable part of the Primer and I saved it for the last major section just to have that succulent carrot in your face as you struggle through “Thinking,” “Feeling,” “Doing,” and “VARing.”

Outro gets us into extremely useful tools like the Glossary, examples of persuasion from literature, an examination of websites that link to the Primer with a wary glance toward our BDSM friends, recommendations on further reading, the Rules, and a brief history of the Primer.  All these chapters are things you almost never see in a standard textbook, but they might actually be the most useful section.

And, for those of you who hate to read the whole book, here’s the main point:

It’s about the Other Guy, Stupid.

Finally, to whet your appetite, feed your fever, whip your frenzy, and pretty much inveigle you senseless . . .

Table of Contents





Standard Model