Persuasion Textbooks

Persuasion, Attitudes And Social Influence Textbooks
The Great Weariness of Knowledge

So, the Primer wasn’t punishing enough and you want more.  You think you can handle it.  You think you’ve got what it takes to be a wild eyed persuasion scientist.  And you’ve had it up to here, Mister, with the flip style, relentless first person, and constant grating attempts at humor in these chapters.  You want something that has no style, no navel gazing, and no humor.  Have I got a list for you.

The following titles meet the standard for classification as “academic research textbooks.”  The authors can do something I can’t, tell it straight.  Boom!  These books will tell you more about persuasion, attitudes, and influence than you could ever possibly need.  They are reliable, intelligent, thoughtful, and cutting edge.

If you think you can handle the truth, you’ve got to read the Psychology of Attitudes by Eagly and Chaiken.  It is the killer app in persuasion.  Eagly and Chaiken are that unusual blend of outstanding talent as scientists and textbook writers.  This book is not for the faint hearted.  It just looks serious as hell even if you don’t read it.  I dare you.

Another text of high accomplishment is Robert Cialdini’s Influence.  It shines in both its clear presentation of concepts and its smart, practical, and funny application of those concepts.  I’ve seen Influence as a title used by consultants and marketers and as a title used by academic professors and researchers.  That’s Shakespearian success.

It’s been my good fortune to know many of the authors on this list either personally or by well earned reputation.  These Pages could not exist without the skill and effort of these authors and the many people who’ve contributed to persuasion theory and research over the years.  I appreciate and respect their work and recommend it to students and practitioners alike.  Go to your favorite book store or library, hunt these titles down, then sit right on the floor, right there, and read them.

Aiken, L. Attitudes and Related Psychosocial Constructs: Theories, Assessment, and Research.

Albarracin, D., Johnson, B. T., & Zanna, M. P. (Eds.). The Handbook of Attitudes.

Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. Understanding Attitudes and Predicting Social Behavior.

Blass, T. (Ed.). Obedience to Authority: Current Perspectives on the Milgram Paradigm.

Bohner, G., & Wanke, M. Attitudes and Attitude Change.

Brock, T. C., & Green, M. C. (Eds.). Persuasion: Psychological Insights and Perspectives.

Cialdini, R. Influence: Science and Practice.

Dillard, J., & Pfau, M. The Persuasion Handbook: Developments in Theory and Practice

Eagly, A., & Chaiken, S. Psychology of Attitudes.

Erwin, P. Attitudes and Persuasion.

Fishbein, M., & Ajzen, I. Belief, Attitude, Intention, and Behavior.

Forgas, J., & Williams, K. Social Influence: Direct and Indirect Processes.

Jowett, G., & O’Donnell, V. Propaganda and Persuasion.

Knowles, E. S., & Linn, J. A. (Eds.). Resistance and Persuasion.

O’Keefe, D. Persuasion: Theory and Research.

Oskamp, S., & Schultz, P. W. (Eds.). Attitudes and Opinions.

Perloff, R. The Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication and Attitudes in the 21st Century.

Petty, R., & Cacioppo, J. Attitudes and Persuasion: Classic and Contemporary Approaches.

Petty, R. & Cacioppo, J.  Communication and persuasion:  Central and peripheral routes to attitude change.

Petty, R., Ostrom, T., & Brock, T. Cognitive Responses in Persuasion.

Reardon, K. Persuasion In Practice.

Stiff, J., & Mongeau, P. Persuasive Communication.

Zimbardo, P., & Leippe, M. The Psychology of Attitude Change and Social Influence.

If you’re actually reading this list, I’ve saved a treat for you.  The last entry is just one of the several important books Dr. Carl Hovland wrote.  Hovland is the godfather of modern persuasion theory and research.  Virtually every construct under study today can be traced by to his original work.  At a time when many bright people were arguing like characters in a beer commercial over behaviorist and cognitive models of human behavior, Hovland was already looking for the synthesis.   Hovland’s death in 1961 at the age of 48 is one of the great intellectual losses in science.  What are we missing that he would have seen?

Hovland, C., Janis, I., & Kelley, H. Communication and Persuasion: Psychological Studies of Opinion Change.