THE DEVELOPMENT AND APPLICATION
OF A NEO-BURKEIAN FRAMEWORK
FOR RHETORICAL CRITICISM
\'.ALERiE LUIS SI-INEiDEP
A DLbEF STATION FRE'ENTED TO THE CIr.l'I.TE COUiNCIL OF
THE LNI'ILIrIT OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FLILFILLIHtENT OF 111[ BCEQLIREIIENTS FOR THE
DECREE I: F L'0,TOR OF FHiLO OHi-n
UNIVEPRSIT OF: [LORJDA
U. OF F. LIBRARY
Valerie Lois Schneider
U. OF F. LIBRARY
Ralph J. Schneider
who took much interest in the progress
of this study and assisted in collecting
research materials for Chapter VI but
did not live to see the completion of
U. OF F. LIBRARY
The author is indebted to her supervisory committee for their
assistance in the preparation of this dissertation. She thanks C.
Franklin Karns for his close scrutiny of the rough draft and his
incisive criticisms which did much to improve the quality of the
final manuscript. She is grateful to G. Paul Moore for his warm
encouragement and helpful suggestions during the progress of the
research. She wishes to express appreciation to Charles Robbins for
his enthusiastic response to the study and for the stimulating
discussions with him which aided her in sharpening interpretations
crucial to the theory developed in the dissertation. She thanks
Leland L. Zimmerman for his helpful cooperation during the completion
stage of the study. The author is particularly grateful to the chair-
man of her committee, Donald E. Williams, for his meticulous super-
vision of the research and writing. His penetrating comments regarding
the critical theory occasioned much ampl ifying and reorganizing of
theoretical components. His suggestions pertaining to sample criticisms
presented in the study were also especially valuable. Professor
Williams' stimulating seminar in rhetorical criticism did much to
motivate the author to attempt the development of a new critical
The author also thanks members of the committee for ideas and
information presented in courses under their supervision which gave
her a suitable background for the development of this dissertation.
Other professors whose courses contributed significantly to background
for this study are Lloyd F. Bitzer, Winston Brembeck, Dennis Day,
Frederick Haberman, Daniel Kubat, Ted J. McLaughlin, Melvin H. Miller,
and Frederick Williams.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. WHY A NEW THEORY IS NEEDED AND WHAT IT WILL CONTAIN.....
II. A DETAILED EXPLORATION OF THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PERSUASION. 19
Ill. A MODEL OF SUCCESSFUL PERSUASION WITH ASSOCIATIONAL
CONDITIONING THE CHIEF STRATEGY...................... 52
IV. THE MANIPULATION OF 'SIGNIFICANT SYMBOLS' TO CONVEY
AND SHAPE MOTIVATIONAL CONCEPTS...................... 86
V. SOCIAL 'MYSTIFICATION'AND ITS COUNTERS AS THEY
AFFECT THE PERSUASIVE PROCESS........................ 112
VI. A STUDY OF THE RHETORIC OF THE MILWAUKEE OPEN
HOUSING ADVOCATES .................................... 141
VII. CONCLUSION ............................................. 182
BIBLIOGRAPHY .................................................. 194
WHY A NEW THEORY IS NEEDED AND WHAT IT WILL CONTAIN
Before entering into a discussion of the flaws in the contemporary
theory and practice of rhetorical criticism, several basic definitions
need to be established.
In the field of public address .rhetQic usually refers to discourse
formulated primarily for a persuasive purpose; and that is the meaning
of the term as used in this dissertation. Some theorists in public
address reserve the term rhAetoric for spoken persuasive messages. Others
include both spoken and printed persuasive messages.2 !n this disserta-
tion all forms of persuasive messages -- spoken, written, and non-verbal
are regarded as significant examples of rhetoric which the critic should
be prepared to evaluate. Even messages formulated primarily for an
informative or entertainment purpose which are concerned with persuasion
as a subordinate purpose, should be of interest to the rhetorical critic.
However, a given message is defined as rhetorical, informative or
entertaining on the basis of the communicator's dominant concern.
A major exception is the definition of persuasion by Bryant which
includes both suasory and informative discourse.
2Edwin Black, RhetoricaiCritiism (New York: Macmillan Co., 1965),
Since .rhtorie has been defined as any type of message in which
persuasion is the dominant concern, it seems necessary also to define
the term persuasion. Perslms in is an attempt to modify the overt
behavior, or the attitudes or the beliefs of the person or persons to
whom the discourse is directed. Rhetor or persuader refers to one
who makes such an attempt.
Harold Harding, a critic of public addresses, defines criticism,
whether of applied rhetoric or of other humanistic forms, in this
a disinterested endeavor to learn and propagate
the best that is knaon and thought in the
If the critic is to promote high standards and values in public
discourse he will have to judge the purposes of the rhetor as well
as the rhetor's techniques. However, Edwin Black charges that gener-
ally the critic's sole consideration is whether or not the speaker
accomplished his avo.ed purpose.5 The author's consideration of all
the critical articles published in 1967 in five major speech journals
supported Black's charge. Rhetorical critics generally fail to ask the
Brembeck and Howell also define persuasion in terms of the attempt
to influence in hics.alas A Ieanisof Social nlt_ L (Englowood Cl iffs, Neo
Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1952), p. 24.
4Harold Harding, ''The College Student as a Critic," (from an
abridgement of a speech del ivored at the University of Michigan, Ann
Arbor, July 23, 1952) prepared by Prof. Helvin Miller for Speech
Composition Class at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, October, 1964,
5Black, pp. 76-77.
The 1967 volumes surveyed were Dsn anJJ i Ltr uaItL jfecrh,
Spei_QoJ.ng.rhiat,.,S, h.mL SLDnpecn h -.jrnLL, _enLcaJlS.LaaLtSjseich
question which Black says ought to be the most important aspect of
rhetorical criticism -- Hon well did the persuader's purpose serve the
welfare of his audience?
In hbLLtorical Criticism Black expands upon this ethical dimension
of criticism by describing the critic as opposed to the scientist in
terms of these three characteristics -- (a) lie studies humanistic
products, (b) He evaluates as well as perceives, and (c) He, unlike
the scientist, seeks to be a social force.7
These same three characteristics of criticism are particularly
underscored in Harding's definition of criticism. Because of the nature
of criticism, the rhetorical critic is not doing his job when he makes
the goals of the rhetor the ground of appraisal of the rhetor's
techniques, without evaluating the rhetorical purpoa Albert J.
Crofts makes a similar observation in his classic essay, "The Functions
of Rhetorical Criticism."8
This failure to evaluate the purpose as well as techiqu es of the
persuader is frequently excused on the ground that it would involve
ethical judgements relative to the individual critic's value-system.
Hence, the inclusion of such an evaluation would make the criticism
unobjective and unscientific. (Supposedly a judgement of this nature
Joucnal, and W eLeat nech. The only critic to evaluate the rhetor's
purposes was Robert W. Smith, "David Lloyd George's Limehouse Address,"
L.entrLitat s ipeechJournal, XV I I (August, 1967), 169-76..
Black, pp. 15-30.
Albert J. Crofts, "The Functions of Rhetorical Criticism," in lb
Erovince of Rhetorc, ed. by Joseph Schwartz and John A. Rycenga (New
York: Ronald Press, 1965), pp. 410-13.
could not be verified with data about the message, audience and larger
Nevertheless, explicit or implicit in almost every persuasive
proposition is the contention, This solution is the best for the audience
in the given circumstances, or, This attitude is the most helpful for
this audience in the given circumstances, or, This belief is the truest
one according to current knowledge on the subject. Since the conveying
of a solution, attitude, or belief, carrying one of the above implicit
propositions is the usual substance of a persuasive speech, it is not
only a function of ethics but also of logic for the listener to test
the truth of this implied contention. The receiver may test on the
basis of whatever outside evidence relating to the contention he is aware
of or is able to discover. The layman who is a critical listener tends
to do this kind of testing before he votes for or against a candidate,
an allocation of money, a referendum issue; or before he decides to
adopt an attitude or belief or support sane social reform measure.
Can less be expected of the professional critic who is supposed to
educate and guide the layman in doing a better job of evaluating and
reacting to discourses?
Even the writer of one of the standard discussions on social move-
ments suggests hav generalized evaluations of the goals of social
movements can be made and implies that it would be useful for the social
scientist to make these evaluations, llans Toch states that if the
movement is mainly concerned with a practical plan, the social scientist
can judge on the basis of the setting of the movement and its relation
to the overall society, whether or not its practical plan is feasible
and will in the long run benefit its members without significantly
harming any other area of that society. If the movement has mainly
cathartic goals, one must ask a further question -- Is an obsession
with this cathartic goal preventing the group from pursuing constructive
goals which would be attainable? If the answer is yes, then such a
purpose would be rated negatively. However, if a practical solution is
so unattainable that cathartic release is the most that can be accomplished
at the time, then the cathartic goal of the group would be evaluated
as a good and useful one. In a similar manner the rhetorical critic
can evaluate the purpose of the persuader.
It is more likely that the rhetorical critic will be encouraged
to criticize on the level of purpose if he has access to a new frame-
work for rhetorical criticism which includes new findings from the
social sciences facilitating such a level of criticism. An individual
critic might also make ethical assessments which cannot be defended
with empirical evidence from the social sciences. This individual
dimension of ethical criticism could not be provided for in any critical
framework serving as a guide for critics of varying philosophical
backgrounds. However, it is perfectly consistent with the framework
to be developed here for the individual critic to add this dimension.
The important consideration in doing this is that the critic be aware
of when he is making this kind of ethical assessment in order that he
may point out and distinguish it from other parts of his criticism.
Hans Toch, TieSoial2iE ycjolagyof Social tlovergnflt" (New York:
Bobbs-Merrill and Co., 1965), pp. 232-41..
As a matter of fact, the great Swedish sociologist Gunnar Myrdal stresses
that the critic, scientist, or social scientist cannot help making such
judgements, but that he should write these explicitly into his work.
The reader may judge how personal values may or may not affect other
areas of the writer's analysis. Myrdal's argument is so interesting,
so unusual, and so pertinent to our field that his argument shall be
quoted here in its entirety:
Biases in research are much deeper-seated than in the
formulation of avowedly practical conclusions. They are
not valuations attached to research but rather they per-
meate research. They are the unfortunate results of
concealed valuations that insinuate themselves into
research in all stages, from its planning to its final
The valuations will, when driven underground, hinder
observation and inference from becoming truly objective.
This can be avoided only by making the valuations explicit.
There is no other device for excluding biases in social
sciences than to face the valuations and to introduce
them as explicitly stated, specific and sufficiently
concretized value premises. If this is done, it will be
possible to determine in a rational way, and openly to
account for the direction of theoretical research. It
will further be possible to cleanse the scientific work-
shop from concealed but ever resurgent, distorting valu-
ations. Practical conclusions may thus be reached by
rational inferences from the data and the value premises.
Only in this way does social engineering as an advanced
branch of social research become a rational discipline
under full scientific control.10
Concern with an ethical dimension of criticism is not the only
reason why significant social science findings should be incorporated
into the framework to guide rhetorical critics. Another of these
10Gunnar Myrdal, AmeLqai Ll,- I Vol. II: The rS_Qcjal
Strauctum (New York: McGraw-Hill Co., 1964), pp. 1043-44.
reasons becomes apparent if one considers Black's definition of
Criticism is a discipline that through the investi-
gation and appraisal of the activities and products
of man, seeks as its end the understanding of man
Since rhetorical discourse is a humanistic concern, significant
findings regarding human sociology and psychology should aid the critic
in doing the most thorough and accurate job. The addition of relevant
findings from these two fields would aid the critic both in formulating
appropriate criteria for judging discourses and in giving the most
accurate answers to hew well the discourse meets these criteria. An
important established principle from the field of mass media will be
given here as an example. This important principle is that of the
"two-step flow of communication." The essence of this principle is that
individuals are not directly influenced by messages conveyed on mass
media such as radio, television, or newspapers. Persons that the
individual knows and respects, at least in regard to their knowledge
of the topic being considered, must state opinions similar to those
the individual has heard on the mass media before the individual will
be significantly influenced by the message. These influencing persons
are knewn as "opinion leaders."l2 This principle can enable the critic
to make better interpretations of persuasive events where mass media
are utilized. With the principle in mind the critic can frame this
critical yardstick, the answer to it being a significant part of his
lBlack, p. 9.
12David K. Berlo, IJelEj .esof_&.C.nmua't jaLi (Noe York: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston, 1960), pp. 25-35.
total critical appraisal -- Did the persuader consider and adequately
provide for the factor of the intermediate "opinion leader's" influence?
Thonssen and Baird, the writers of the chief authoritative guide
to rhetorical criticism, indicated the need for incorporation of social
science findings in the introductory portion of their book Speech
Speeches occur in social settings. Consequently
their interpretation and criticism must stem from
a knowledge of the forces and conditions operative
in the social situation at the particular time.13
Even though Thonssen and Baird recognized such a need they did
almost nothing to incorporate socio-psychological findings into their
guide for critics. Basically they simplified and restated key elements
of Aristotle's rhetoric, particularly those dealing with the four
classical canons of style, delivery, arrangement, and invention. They
also discussed the three major types of proof -- ethical, logical, and
emotional. These topics provided rather set guidelines for the critical
act. This type of criticism has been termed "Neo-Aristotel ian" by
Black. He maintains that most practicing critics follac the "Neo-
Aristoteliarl'pattern. The author's survey of 1967 critical articles
showed that "Neo-Aristotel ian" criticism was the dominant mode.1
SLester Thonssen and A. Craig Baird, $SpecrCirLticL sJ (Nev York:
Ronald Press, 1948), p. 9.
1Black, pp. 35-40. The only articles which were not"Neo-
Aristotelian"were James R. Andrews, "Picty and Pragmatism: Rhetorical
Aspects of the Early British Peace Movmncnt," 'Iech Mononraph,
XXXIV (November, 1967), 423-36 and James R. Andrews, "The Rhetoric of
a Lobbyist: Cenjamin Franklin in England, 1765-1775,'" QentLaltaLe
5psch JotUna XV Ill (November, 1967), 261-67. Both articles showed
a woeful ignorance of the dynamics of long range campaigns. The
The major reason, undoubtedly, is that there is no fully developed
critical framework serving as an alternate to the "Neo-Aristotelian."
Black is the only other critical theorist who has attempted a book-length
discussion of critical methodology. Even so, his critical system is
not fully developed. He has devoted over half the book to a refutation
of the "Neo-Aristotelan" system and has introduced several provocative
but disconnected and only briefly developed suggestions for the rhetorical
Virginia Holland and Leland Griffin in published articles have
also made attempts at alternate critical frames of reference, building
their new formulations largely on the work of Kenneth Burke. But they
too have failed to develop coherent, detailed systems. Griffin's main
contribution is an analysis of stages of mass campaigns, and Holland's
contribution is an analysis of verbal clues to the rhetor's persuasive
strategy.1 Both contributions are analytical rather than evaluative
The features which characterize the average sample of "Neo-
Aristotelian" criticism might be explored further here.
characterization to follow of "Noo-Aristotelian" criticism is based
partly on Black's discussion, partly on a study of Thonssen and Baird's
5Speech Criticism, partly on general readings of critical articles' and
discussions in the Rhetorical Criticism Seminar at the University of
Florida, taught by Prof. Donald E. Williams, September-December, 1966.
5Sec Virginia Holland, "Rhetorical Criticism: A Burkeian Method,"
QuaLt .rJr __lJonal of Sdpeeh, XXXIX (December, 1953), h4l4-50 and Leland
M. Griffin, "The Rhetorical Structure of the New Left Movement,"
LOuarerly JourLal .of Spfech~, I (April, 1964), 124-35.
The "Neo-Aristotel ian" critic usually begins by determining the
purpose of the rhetor who is the object of study. The critic usually
judges on the basis of historic results how successful the rhetor was
in working taoard his purpose. In addition, specific techniques are
assessed in terms of whether they added to or detracted from the desired
overall effect. Generally, the ethics or inherent worth of the rhetor's
purpose is not judged. The specific techniques of the rhetor are gen-
erally discussed under the headings of the four classical canons of
rhetoric -- arrangement, style, delivery, and invention. The analysis
and evaluation of arrangement is usually confined to deciding hew many
major parts the discourse contains, judging whether each part is
adequately developed, and assessing the overall coherence of the
discourse. Analysis and evaluation of the rhetor's style usually
centers upon judging its clarity, appropriateness, and ornamental
qualities. Frequently, the contributions of the speaker's style to
his overall ethos are also considered. Delivery is analyzed and
evaluated in terms of the speaker's overall bearing and in terms of the
vigor and appropriateness of gestures and vocal qualities. In analyzing
invention the "Neo-Aristotelian" critic generally determines the relative
amounts of ethical, logical, and emotional proof, giving the highest
rating to those discourses based mainly on logical proof.
Critics of the "Neo-Aristotelian" mode of criticism feel that its
greatest weaknesses are the factors that the rhetorical critic of
contemporary persuasive discourses ought to consider but which are not
provided for in this traditional framework. For instance, the "Neo-
Aristotelian" framework does not provide for analysis and assessment of
nei communicative forms which are sometimes instruments of persuasion
as significant as the persuasive speeches and essays which it does
deal with.6 Examples of some of these new communicative forms of
persuasion are economic boycotts, marches, sit-ins, lay-ins, and
petitions. These new forms for the effecting of persuasion are
featured prominently in current civil-rights, anti-war, and student
protest campaigns. This shift in forms of persuasive communication
utilized most extensively in contemporary mass campaigns was discussed
at the 1968 S.A.A. convention by Robert Scott and Donald K. Smith,
speaking on "The Rhetoric of Confrontation."
The word "confrontation" is being used currently
to describe a set of behaviors that implements
dissent in circumstances that once might have
given rise to discourse clearly rhetorical.
Whereas sit-ins, demonstrations, marches, and even
physical conflict are scarcely the stuff of con-
ventional debate, we are forced to consider the
potentialities of these activities as means of
The "Neo-Aristotelian" framework also fails to provide guidelines
for discussion of multiple channels. Frequently multiple channels
convey the same message to different audiences simultaneously or at
differing intervals. Lack of guidelines for analysis of multiple
communication channels, non-verbal Forms of persuasion, and pertinent
16Wayne E. Brockriede, "Toqards a Contemporary Aristotelian
Theory of Rhetoric,'" Quarely ournd of SjpIech, LXII I (February,
7Robert L. Scott and Donald K. Smith, "The Rhetoric of Con-
frontation," in Sbtllz~ s (Speech Association of America 54th
Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, December 27-30,,1968), p. 6.
principles of mass movement dynamics weakens the rhetorical critic's
ability to evaluate the rhetoric of mass movements. The effect of this
lack of guidance can be seen in specimens of contemporary criticism.
In 1967, James R. Andrews did a critical study of the Eighteenth
Century British pacifist movement. He compared the first stage of this
movement unfavorably with the third because more tangible goals were
reached in this third and final stage. The scholar of mass movements
realizes that the earliest stage is normally concerned with gaining
attention and recruiting members; other concrete goals cannot be
attained until a later stage. Hence, Andrews' lack of knowledge of
mass movement dynamics led him to use inappropriate criteria in judging
the various stages of the movement. It is interesting to note that
Andrews was the sole published critic in 1967 to even attempt a com-
prehensive study of a mass campaign.
Many contemporary critics base their judgement of discourses
mainly on the soundness of the logic of the persuader's premises without
considering the soundness of the speaker's psychology in relating these
points of logic to his audience. The'Neo-Aristoteliar' bias toward
logical proof has probably contributed in large measure to this weak-
ness in rhetorical theory and criticism discussed by Richard B. Gregg:
For a realistic picture of argument we need to
superimpose a psychological Framework over the
J8ames R. Andrews, "The Ethos of Pacifism: The Problem of Image
in the Early British Peace Movement," Inu.arterly journall of Speech,
LIII (February, 1967), 32.
1Eric Hoffer, IThJ~T~ul ate_Leever (NeH York: New American Library,
1951), pp. 120-25.
logical structure of disputation. In other words, we
must consider auditor or audience reaction to argument
or if you will, the rhetoric of argument. We need to
understand not only why arguments should or should
not be accepted (the logic of argument) but why in
fact they are or are not accepted (the rhetoric of
An example of this problem is the 1967 study, "Presumption and
Burden of Proof in Whately's Speech on the Jewish Civil Disabilities
Repeal Bill," by Floyd Douglas Anderson and Merwyn Ilayes, published
in Sp~.ch Mbonagraph2s. 2 This article is interesting in that the
critics take one of W'hately's theoretical formulations from his
lmentsofj Rhetoc and show. ha's the rhetorical theorist actually
applied the concept in one of his parliamentary speeches. The
rhetorical concept illustrated was this -- Whately held that a
restriction, such as disallowing Jewish participation in British
political life, unless clearly necessary to the self-defense of the
society, would enjoy no presumption of truth, even though it repre-
sented the status quo. This tenet from IThleu 1s de of Retoric was
also the central proposition of Whately's speech. To bolster it, he
cited evidence to show that the restriction against Jews had never been
proven necessary to British self-defense. After discussing Whately's
use of this rhetorical premise, the authors pose this question -- Is
the hypothesis itself and, hence, the approach relied on in the
2Richard B. Gregg, "The Rhetoric of Evidence," Western Speech,
XXXI (Summer, 1967), 189.
Floyd Douglas Anderson and Merwyn Hayes, "Presumption and Burden
of Proof in Whately'sT Speech on the Jewish Civil Disabilities Repeal
Bill," SJ2eag t~ olnoraps, XXXIV (June, 1967), 133-36.
parliamentary speech, good? Their judgment is that the concept is
sound and that the speech was a good one even though Whately's vie/
didn't prevail in the vote afterward. They base their conclusion on
the fact that fifteen years later in the 1848 parliamentary debates
on the same issue, Whately's speech was reprinted by the forces
favoring the repeal of Jewish disabilities. Moreover, they cite the fact
that Robert Peel utilized Whately's line of argument. Peel's speech was
considered decisive in winning enough votes for repeal.
Perhaps the authors were more concerned with analysis of Whately's
theoretical concept and the ramifications of its practical application
than they were with total critical assessment of the speech. Yet as
they assessed the soundness of the technique in this given speech
situation, they raised other issues they became obligated to answer. The
most obvious question in the mind of the reader is -- Why was Peel so
much more successful with a speech based on the same central argument?
Had some historical happenings made the mood of Peel's audience different?
If so, this should be explained. The critics might then have analyzed
what else Whately could have done to counteract the more negative frame
of mind of his audience. Or the critics should ask, What else did Peel
do to make his central argument appealing? Perhaps he stressed the
positive values of change, whereas, Whately had dwelt mainly on the
negative thought that the other side had not sufficiently proved that
danger would result from the removal of Jewish disabilities. The fact
that both men were not successful with the same argument underscores
that mere logical appeal is not enough for the success of a speech.
Factors of the psychology of the audience have to be considered in a
full and reliable appraisal.
The writers of three 1967 critical studies of speeches by Stokely
Carmichael might have profited from specific guidelines for evaluating
factors of humor and cathartic appeal as they affect the psychology of
persuasion. All three critics gave interesting impressionistic reactions
to the single speech each had heard.22 Each critic pointed out that
Carmichael succeeded in amusing and entertaining his audience with his
ironic humor. If these critics had been better acquainted with the
communicative value of ironic humor in aiding the audience to consider
the issue with less rigidity, they could have judged this technique
on a fuller and more significant level than merely labeling it "enter-
taining." For instance, Dencil Taylor, dismissed Carmichael's arguments
as shallowa. and emotional." However a-notional reactions such as
amusement or cathartic release often help to reestablish communication
within upset individuals or between alienated groups and, thus, prepare
them eventually to see the logic of argumentative constructions.23
A number of problems in contemporary critical theory and practice
have been discussed. A most significant problem if one considers the
ultimate purpose of criticism in aiding man toward greater self-
understanding and tvoard promotion of the highest values is the general
lack of an ethical dimension of criticism. The critic tends to concentrate
Pat Jefferson, "The Magnificent Barbarian at Nashville," Southern
Speech Journal, XXXIII (Winter, 1967), 77-87; Elizabeth Flory Phifer
and Dencil R. Taylor, "Carmichael in Tallahassee," S'Lthern Speech i rnal,
XXXIII (Winter, 1967), 88-92.
2See especially Hugh Duncan, C mmUyniCatLon andLhe j OJ rl
(New York: Bedminster Press, 1962), pp. 393-411; Dominick A. Barbara,
"Listening with the Inner Ear,'" ntrl5 S .are SpeecbDJornal, XI (Winter,
on assessing the techniques of the rhetor without making value judge-
ments of the rhetors' purposes. Also he frequently judges the
techniques solely as to whether or not they are effective, regardless
of social and ethical problems which might arise from the use of certain
Even the analysis and assessment of rhetorical techniques is not
as complete and accurate as it ought to be. The currently available
critical framework does not instruct critics regarding non-verbal
aspects of persuasion such as the "direct-action" techniques. Also,
the critic is not guided in considering multiple audiences receiving the
persuasive message through multiple communication channels. Hence,
criticism of the rhetoric of mass campaigns is relatively rare, and
when such an assessment is attempted it is likely to be incomplete.
In addition, many principles from sociology and psychology which relate
significantly to persuasive communications have been formulated in
recent years but have not been added to the framework guiding rhetorical
critics. The addition of these principles would enable the critic to
begin solving the problems of current research cited here. This
addition would also aid the critic in formulating the best criteria to
apply to rhetorical discourses and would provide him with the fullest
evidence in comparing the discourse to the criteria formulated for
The author does not maintain that the new critical framework will
solve all problems. On many occasions poor critical studies are done
because the critic is unperceptive or is careless in his work. The
author is merely making the modest claim that critics, whether poor,
average, or good, would gain helpful ideas from another fully-developed
critical theory which attempts to discuss factors significant to
persuasive situations which the "N!eo-Aristotclian" framework does not
Consequently, the concern in this dissertation is to develop a
new framework for rhetorical criticism to exist alongside or as a
supplement to the "Nco-Aristotel ian" framework. This frame.,ork is
grounded in significant principles from sociology and psychology
which add to the understanding and assessment of persuasive discourses.
Moreover, attention to the non-verbal factors of persuasion, attention
to significant components of mass campaigns, and attention to assessing
the ethical dimension of the rhetor's purpose and tactics, in so far
as these latter assessments can be supported by empirical evidence,
are stressed in the new framework. In addition, several samples of
applied criticism will be presented in order to aid the critic in
recognizing specific critical applications that may be made of the
principles discussed in the dissertation.
There is need to explain the method of selecting and synthesizing
into a coherent new framework, the most significant sociological and
The author followed the advice of Berlo, Nichols, and Brockriede,2
and the example of Griffin and Holland, by beginning the search for a
24See Brockriede, p. 35 and Marie Hochmuth Nichols, Lectures gn
Rhetoric and Criticjism (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State Univ-
ersity.Press, 1963), p. 106.
new critical theoi y with a study of Kenneth Burke. The author alsu
relied heavily on a study of Hugh Duncan who has made a simple ified
restatement of Bu-kce's key rhetorical concepts.25
The author agreed with the persuasion and criticism theorists
cited that Burke has provided many perceptive insights about the
persuasive process which would be of aid to both the rhetor and the
rhetorical critic. The author, similar to Burke, became convinced that
identification is the substance of successful persuasion. However,
Burke does not give a detailed explication of how the identification
process operates. The author concluded after a survey of many socio-
logical and psychological theories that an exploration of associational
conditioning and related factors of learning theory were what was
needed to provide a detailed anatomy of the identification process
necessary to successful instances of persuasion. While this merger
of identification, associational conditioning, and related learning
concepts is the core of the theory, several other significant factors
have been added. Linguistic symbols are the main means of activating
associational conditioning: hence, this topic is explored extensively.
Another addition is a discussion of psychological blocks to accurate
audience perception of elements of the message. Factors of social
interaction which add to or hinder perception of the persuasive message
are also discussed.
25Hugh Duncan, a.m naictioon dL.Tc Socit__cer (Nt- York:
Bedminister Pres, 1962); Kenneth Burke, A Rhe~tforc f C'.lis
(Cleveland: World Publishing Co., 1962); Kenneth Burke, AGarn r.f_.a
tiotivel (Cleveland: World Publ fishing Co., 1962).
A DETAILED EXPLORATION OF THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PERSUASION
In this chapter a detailed outline is presented of the psychology
of persuasion. This may seem to be an odd topic to explore extensively
in the opening theoretical chapter of a dissertation which explicates
a ne. theory of rhetorical criticism. It would seem that the main
caoponents of a theory of rhetorical criticism would be the criteria
to be applied in evaluating a rhetorical discourse to determine its
overall merit. Criteria are defined as standards of excellence against
which any rhetorical discourse can be tested. Consequently, these
criteria are prescriptive statements indicating the best overall
strategies and specific tactics which ought to be employed within given
types of persuasive situations.
To derive these prescriptive statements the critic must first
ascertain the crucial factors contributing to successful instances of
persuasion. As these crucial factors are isolated, critical standards
of rhetorical excellence can be inferred, Critical standards of
excellence are ideals which few if any discourses meet fully but which
provide for comparative judgment of a given discourse's worth. If
critical standards were based on what is generally accomplished rather
than on what are the highest possible accomplishments (which can be
inferred from intensive study of attitude formation) critics would be
measuring mediocrity rather than excellence. Persuaders, moreover,
would not learn to improve their art.
The remainder of this chapter contains discussion of the process
factors necessary to making an attempt at persuasion a success. The
author regards any conscious attempt through verbal or non-verbal means
by a source to modify the overt behavior, the attitudes, or the beliefs
of a person or persons as an instance of persuasion and, hence, of
interest to the rhetorical critic. What are termed "necessary process
factors" may not be found in every attempt at persuasion, but they would
be found in every successful attempt. Since the ultimate purpose of
this dissertation is the development of critical standards, the process
steps necessary to any successful endeavor in attitude formation or
attitude modification are what is pertinent. These process factors
apply to persuasive messages in any form of publication -- speeches,
printed messages, non-verbal message forms, or a combination of these.
The process is discussed in terms of three major subdivisions --
perception, judgment, and action.
In a successful instance of persuasion, the audience is aided
to perceive the main elements of the message in the way the rhetor
intended them to be perceived. After accurate perception of the main
elements, the audience is encouraged to make a judgment taoard the
rhetorical proposition similar to the judgment the persuader desires.
The elements of perception and judgment will occur simultaneously
in certain parts of the message. For purposes of analysis, however,
perception and judgment are seen as discrete parts of the persuasive
process. The perception of major message canponents tends to set the
direction of judgment,, hence, serious discrepancies between intended
and actual perception may prevent persuasive success even before the
judgment phase is reached.
Percepts~ can be defined as the reception of information stimuli
and the comprehension of these elements through categorization and
labeling. Judgm int refers to connections between motivational (appeals)
concepts and the rhetorical proposition, including the final inferences
for overt action proceeding from these connections.
A judgment of some type generally is made by receivers, but it
may be opposite to the one the rhetor desires. On other occasions,
too few pertinent items of information are presented to enable structur-
ing toward any judgment regarding the proposition. This problem is
illustrated in the student speech to be discussed in Chapter III.
The final stage in the psychological process of persuasion is
the acting out of the proposition by the receiver. If, however, the
receiver's perceptions and/or judgments were in disagreement with
the rhetor's intention, the third stage may never occur; the audience
may not act in any way related to the proposition. On the other hand,
they may act in a manner contrary to it. An action step congruent with
the rhetor's intention is almost assured if the audience perceives and
judges in the manner desired by the rhetor. If success is achieved in
regard to the perception and judgment phases, the only probable reasons
See discussion of perception in Ronald H. Forgus, EPrs~e~ton
(New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966), p. 2. .
that the audience would fail to act would be due to the rhetor's failure
to describe specific actions or his call for an action that the audience
was incapable of giving. These two problems indicate poor audience
analysis and are treated adequately in standard persuasion texts.2
Hence, the remainder of this discussion shall be centered upon
considerations which the rhetor should make in aiding his receivers to
perceive and to judge in a manner leading to the desired action. This
manner of presentation may seem appropriate to the exposition of a
rhetorical rather than a critical theory. Actually it is appropriate
to both. In making his assessments, the rhetorical critic should simulate
the process of choosing which is discussed here from the viewpoint of
the rhetor. In other words, the best of the possible strategic choices
open to the rhetor are equivalent to the standards of excellence for
judging the persuasive message.
A number of elements presented in this theory are found in tradi-
tional discussions of rhetoric. The traditional treatment of sane of
these is, however, imprecise. A major contribution of this critical
theory is to cite empirical support for what have been common sense
notions of traditional rhetoricians. In so doing, fuller detailing
and further implications of given concepts will be developed. The
concepts discussed will be interrelated more carefully into an overall
view of the persuasive process than has been the case previously. The
discussion to follo.q also shifts the relative emphasis of certain
2See especially Wayne flinnick, ITh eArt_ Ealuf Pn-L i (Boston:
Houghton Mifflin, 1957), pp. 32-33.
components of persuasion. For instance, traditional critics have
stressed the formal logic of argument more than any other element.
Traditionalists have related argument to audience predispositions, but
generally formal logic has been scrutinized more than the audience's
psychological perceptions of the logical threads of the message.
One might get the best general orientation to the theory of
successful persuasion upon which this new critical theory is based by
considering the following quotation from an article by 0. H. Macrer,
an eminent leader in the field of stimulus-response learning psychology.
MoHrer comments on a statement by Carpenter which is consistent with
his -wn theory on the matter:
In a recent paper by Carpenter entitled "A
Theoretical Orientation for Instructional Film
Research," we find brief reference to the
releasor-organizer hypothesis, which is that
the signals, signs, and symbols of sound motion
pictures function principally as releasors and
organizers of meanings and responses in human
subjects. The releasing function of signs is
said to be both dependent (or interdependent)
on the activated brain processes engramss) of
the experiencing subjects. Thus, it may be
reasoned that the functions of signals, signs,
and symbols do not transmit meanings; they
release meaning when and only when the subjects
respond. The characteristics of these responses
relate closely to personal life history dif-
ferences. The releasor concept of signs and
symbols must be supplemented by the related
organizer concept. Previously learned engramss"
may be modified by new stimulation and even
nana related elements may be imprinted. Nel
relationships may be shewn and old responses
modified by film mediated stimulation. The
results are conceived to consist principally of
Richard B. Gregg, "The Rhetoric of Evidence," LlWe_tLesropeei,
XXXI (Summer, 1967), 180-88.
the reorganization of previously learned
neural-organic patterns which intervene between
film stimulation and the subsequent actions
or reactions of the individual.
The notion that signs release or arouse meanings
in rather than bear them to another individual
as stated by Carpender is identical with the
position taken in the present analysis.4
The notion of rhetoric presented here is quite different from that
generally entertained by the persuasion theorist. In particular the
psychological processes which explain why general persuasive strategies
succeed or fail are detailed.
Several of these psychological elements can be inferred from the
previous quotation and explored further. Most crucial is the releasor
aspect of the persuasive process. Mowrer's discussion indicates that
the persuasive process is completed within the individual. Indeed the
persuasive message must set forth conditions to facilitate the
receiver's persuading himself. HMorer delineates the physiological-
psychological connections within the brain and central nervous system
which facilitate this self-persuasive process. Due to previous
experience the receiver has "activated brain patterns," engrams,
which cause him to react in certain set ways in situations which
trigger the given "activated brain pattern."5
For instance, John Smith responds with an offer to help any time
one of his neighbors is in distress. A rhetor who wished to have
John Smith (and perhaps others like him in a larger audience) help
0. H. Malrer, "The Psychologist Looks at Language," in ilLunt a
La.2, Stri Vi n&n.SJVLudl[esEo xin.o:ilinOjLo es tQQ__ J l._ja r,
ed, by Arthur Staats (NoM York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston Inc., 1964),
5jid.., pp. 187-88.
some neighbors in the community would merely have to paint a clear
verbal picture of the situation. Smith's "activated brain pattern"
concerning the previously learned response of aid to the stimulus,
distressed neighbor, would connect within his neurological system, and
John Smith would either perform an overt action of giving help or at
least would resolve to do so in the near future.
If the rhetor's goal were to solicit money for aid to a foreign
country and his audience consisted of people like John Smith, he might
stimulate a new or slightly modified response by building on one
already followed as an "activated brain pattern." In this case the
rhetor would show the audience that the foreign activity was concerned
with giving relief to suffering international neighbors. This appeal
could lead to the desired action of getting contributions. In this
case a new stimulus, a problem situation in a foreign country, has
been conditioned to a previously established response of aid to dis-
tressed neighbors. Both the pure "activated brain pattern" and the new
pattern conditioned upon the old activations are made possible because
of the engrams (traces of synapse connections of previous stimulus-
response bonds left in the brain).
The preceding description of self-persuasion as it occurs in the
neurological system is all that will be discussed on that subject, since
little is known about the engram connection process. Though such
neurological connections are crucial to the persuasive process they
are a factor which cannot be analyzed directly as Ruesch and Bateson
Events occurring in other persons are accessible to
an observer in terms of inference alone. All he
observes is the stimuli which reach the other
person and the latter's reactions; the rest is
subject to conjecture.
Consequently, the rhetorical theorist and the rhetorical critic
should derive principles by focusing attention on those types and combin-
ations of stimuli that will lead to mediating responses within receivers
causing them to act in the desired manner. The mediating mechanisms
are the engram connections and related parts of the brain and central
nervous system. It is arrangements of linguistic symbols which activate
these mediating mechanisms. A mediating reonsae is the repertoire or
part of a repertoire of behavior elicited by linguistic symbols which
have stimulated an "activated brain pattern" or a response derivative
of an "activated brain pattern."
An understanding of ho i linguistic symbols stimulate mediating
responses might be provided by considering and commenting on this
statement regarding symbol conditioning by Charles Osgood, a foremost
world authority on mediational-psychology.
Words represent things because they produce some
replica of the actual behavior toward those things.
This is the crucial identification, the mechanism
that ties signs to particular stimulus-objects and
not to others. Stating the proposition formally,
we may say; a pattern of stimulation which is not
the object is a sign of the object if it evokes in
an organism a mediating reaction this (a) being some
fractional part of the total behavior elicited by
the object and (b) producing distinctive self-
stimulation that mediates responses which would not
Jurgen Ruesch and Gregory Bateson, .Counication:_1 e
Matrix of Psychiatry (New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1951), p. 26.
occur without the previous stimulation of qon-
object and object patterns of stimulation.
Osgood's discussion is of the process by which individual words
acquire meaning. The self-stimulation mediating process, haiever, is the
same one used in connecting motivational concepts (motivational appeals)
to rhetorical propositions to give the proposition a new meaning. The
self-stimulation mediating responses triggered by previous associations
refers to responses due directly to "activated brain reactions" or to
reactions derivative of them through generalization, discrimination,
or further associative conditioning. These conditions are consistent
with general knowledge regarding cognition as exemplified in this
remark by Doob:
When a thorough investigation reveals no actual
prior contact (between stimulus and response) some
process of generalization or discrimination must
have occurred since all behavior has antecedents.8
Arthur Staats explains that language conditioned in the manner
discussed by Osgood can in turn be applied in further operant condi-
tioning procedures to generate new patterns of learning, including
modifications of attitudes.
These connected levels of conditioning will be traces here. The
first two levels are attained by all learners of a given language; the
Charles E. Osgood, "The Mediation Hypothesis," in Staats, ed.,
Leonard Doob, "The Behavior of Attitudes," ibid., p. 297.
Arthur W. Staats, "A Case in and Stragegy for the Extension of
Learning Principles to Problems of Human Behavior," ibid., p. 137.
persuader has to make use of them through skillful language selection
in the phrasing of his message. First one learns the meaning of separate
word symbols by associating each to related clusters of action. Osgood
explains that human beings think of objects and word symbols for them
in terms of related actions. For instance, hammer means to an indi-
vidual the striking action he can perform with the implement.0 This
association of action-meaning with individual words is transferred also
to phrases, clauses, and sentences. Reaching the third level, the
strategy of the persuader might be phrased as an attempt to take a nae
subject (the rhetorical proposition) and connect it with predicates
(motivational concepts) already accepted by the audience.
Moarer has explained hcaq the sentence can be used as this type of
conditioning device. (What can be said of sentences can be applied
to any other unit of complete thought as has been demonstrated by
I. A. Richards.) l
The sentence preeminently a conditioning device
and that its chief effect is to produce new
association, new learning, just as any other
paired presentation of stimuli may do. This
position is congruent with the traditional
notion that predication is the essence of
language and may indicate, perhaps more pre-
cisely than purely linguistic research has
done, the basic nature of this phenomenon.
Perhaps the most generally accepted criterion
as to whether a sentence has or has not done its
work is this: if as a result of hearing or
reading a sentence, an individual's behavior on
some future occasion, with respect to some person,
Clharles E. Osgood, "The Mediation IypoLhesis," .LbLd., p. 174.
I. A. Richards, The Philosoohy of Rhetori (Nlew York: Oxford
University Press, 1965), pp. 47-50.
thing or event not present when the sentence occurred
is different from what it otherwise had been, then
that sentence may be said to have been understood
and to have functioned effectively. If, for example,
John tells Charles in the absence of Tom, that Tom
is a thief and if when Charles subsequently encounters
Tom, he reacts toward him with distrust and appre-
hension [persuasive] communication has clearly taken
One can see how this process takes place in a lengthy message
by considering an aspect of Roosevelt's First inaugural. (This
address is discussed in detail in Chapter IV.) Roosevelt's subject
(proposition) was "Accept my new economic recovery program." He
connected this with several predicates (motivational concepts) as
his basic argumentative strategy. For instance, one line of connection
was "Accept my new economic recovery program because it is consistent
with 'essential democracy' and other accepted American values."
Supposedly, the auditor's previously learned action-pattern toward
entities democratic and American would be transferred to the recovery
program. Another conditioning pattern (or line of argument) was
"Accept my new economic recovery program because I am a charismatic
leader." A third conditioning pattern was "Accept my new economic
recovery program because it will undo the damage created by careless
and unscrupulous businessmen." Within the speech symbol manipulations
and supporting details were used to build up the three motivational
concepts -- factors of 'essential democracy,' businessmen as scapegoats,
and Roosevelt as a charismatic leader. The latter two were complicated
0. H. MIocrer, 'The Psychologist Looks at Language," in Staats,
ed., pp. 180-82.
as charisma had to be associated with Roosevelt and scapegoating with
businessmen, then the two concepts were associated with the proposition.
The essence of successful persuasion is to connect one's proposition
with predicates (motivational concepts) which (1) are needs, beliefs,
attitudes, or general courses of action already strongly accepted by
the audience, and (2) are concepts that move the audience toward
action-areas similar to the action the rhetor is trying to induce
toward the proposition. In the inaugural address, the prior action-
orientations toward the motivational concepts were those of strong
acceptance ('essential democracy'); complete trust and obedience
(charismatic leadership); and avoidance of anything connected with the
scapegoat, businessmen. This last action-area was valuable because
the recovery program involved a turning away from some previously
revered free enterprise practices. (3) The motivational concept
should be one which can be plausibly connected with the proposition.
The conditioning (or identification) of motivational concepts
already accepted by the audience to the proposition might be compared
with a traditional Aristotelian concept. The motivational concepts)
would be major premises believed by the audience. The connections
between these motivational concepts and the proposition would be the
minor premise. If the receiver truly sees the connection he is self-
persuaded and will make a favorable judgment toward the proposition.
lWhen self-persuasion has occurred the argumentative strategy has
functioned as an entlymemie in the sense that the receiver would
comprehend for himself the conclusion of the message (proposition)
proceeding from the lines of argument, even if the proposition were
left unstated. Factors of learning theory which facilitate the
receiver's making of the crucial connection are discussed in detail
in Chapter IlI.
The preceding discussion of conditioning steps has provided an
outline of the organizer part of the releasor-organizer theory of
persuasion as discussed by lowrer.
Howrer stated that the release aspect concerns setting forth
conditions so the desired attitudinal meanings will be released within
receivers. The setting forth of favorable conditions has to do with
aiding the receiver toward favorable perception (especially favorable
labeling) of major message elements, such as, the motivational concepts,
the proposition, and the connecting link between these two entities.
In particular the motivational concepts need to be labeled in a
manner that will win the audience's acceptance and will orient them to
an area of action similar to the one called for in the proposition.
The desired action would be an acceptance or avoidance response to a
definite entity. This conditioned response may be the initiation of
approach to an entity previously ignored or rejected, or it may be
renewal of approach to an encity. Similarly the response could be one
of avoidance regarding an object previously approached, or it could be
a resolve to avoid an entity previously not acted toward at all.
Fotheringham refers to these four major directions of action respectively
as adoption, antinuatio disontinuance, and deterrence.13 Speeches
cited in this study for the purpose of sample criticisms illustrate all
13Vallace C. Fotheringham, crsJpectives on Persuasion (Boston:
Allyn and Bacon, 1966), p. 33.
four action-orientations. Adopiion was called for in the proposition
of Franklin Roosevelt's First Inauguial -- "Accept my neo economic
recovery program." Continuation was the desired response to John
Glenn's proposition -- "Support this worthwhile space program."
Patrick Henry sought discontinuance in the proposition of his "Give
me Liberty or Give me Death Address.' He said, in effect, "Cease to
negotiate with Britain." The student speaker whose proposition was
"Do not depend on religion," was call ing for discnntinuance or deterrence,
depending on the prior practices of individual audience members.
Doob speaks synonymously with Mo.rer when he characterizes
attitude formation as consisting of perception and associational
learning.14 Staats also speaks synonymously when he explains that
attitude formation is based upon categories (perceived entities) which
are primed or activated through conditioning processes.
Motivational concepts, previously learned beliefs, opinions,
felt needs, or characteristic ways of acting, can be conditioned to
propositions calling for various types of judgment as Doob indicates
in the following observation:
Under varying conditions within the individual,
a given attitude can mediate a repertoire of
overt responses. A favorable attitude toward
a social institution, foi example, can mediate
innumerable responses connected with what is 16
considered to be the welfare of that institution.
14Leonard Doob, "The Behavior of Attitudes," in Staats, ed.,
15Arthur W. Staats, "Verbal Mechanisms in Purpose and Set," in
Staats, ed., p. 219.
16ob p. 29
Doob, p. 298.
Bruner, Goodnow, and Austin also support this line of thought in
discussing the relative nature of categorization.
The objects of the environment provide the cues on
which our groupings may be based, but they provide
cues that could serve for many groupings other than
the ones we make. We select and utilize certain cues
rather than others.17
The overall releasor-organizer concept of persuasion has been
defined and explicated, but a fuller understanding of the process
steps, perception and judgment, need to be attained. This discussion
will fill in the details of the releasor-aspect. Judgment toward the
proposition is the sum total of the labelings made of motivational con-
cepts and the resultant labeling of the proposition to which they are
connected. Since perception of these major message elements consistent
with the perceptions the persuader desired tends to facil itate judge-
ment in the direction desired, the mainan-plificatory discussion
needed is a further exploration of perception.
Although perception includes the three major elements of reception,
categorization, and labeling, only reception and labeling will be
discussed explicitly. A part of labeling is the categorization of
message elements. Indeed many cognition theorists would state that
labeling is subordinate to categorization and is chiefly an expression
of ho. these elements were categorized. In this study the viewpoint
is taken that the manner in which objects are labeled is the main
determinant of their categorization. The main reason for following
this interpretation is an understanding that the only way human beings
J7erane S.Bruner, Jacqueline Gcodnoe, and George Austin, A _Study
nf Tinkiang (New York: Science Editions, 1965), p. 232.
can think about features of their environment and form opinions of
them is through the use of symbols to name and interrelate objects; in
other words, only through labeling can objects be understood and reasoned
Even the cognition theorists, Bruner, Goodncw and Austin, who
stress the primacy of categorization make statements which seen in
reality to support the primacy of labeling:
The stimulus similarity that serves as a basis for
grouping is a selected or abstracted similarity.
There is an act of rendering similar by a coding
operation rather than a forcing of equivalence on
the organism by the nature of stimulation.
Virtually all cognitive activity involves and is
dependent on the process of categorizing. Mure
critical still, the act of categorizing derives
from man's capacity to infer from sign to signifi-
Further support for the primacy of labeling is given by symbolic
interactionists, such as, Duncan and Burke, who state that an indivi-
dual has to name a thing before he can act toward it.19 In addition,
various psychological studies report that individuals have difficulty
perceiving objects for which they do not have names. The critical
role of labeling in perception and cognition is especially well-stated
in some of the psychiatric literature, such as in the following
observation by Dollard and Miller:
The neurotic is a person who is in need of a
stock of sentences that will match the events
going on within and without him. The new sentences
18Jbid. p. 8 and p. 246.
1Hugh Dalziel Duncan, QComunication hLr_ L _S Q_ id__cL (Nem
York: Bedminister Press, 1962), p. 44.
make possible an immense facilitation of higher
mental processes. With their aid he can dis-
criminate and generalize more accurately; he
can motivate himself for remote tasks; he can
produce hope and caution within himself and aid
himself in being logical, reasonable and
planful. By label ing a formerly unlabeled emo-
tional response he can represent this response
in reasoning. It acquires a voice within the
individual. The unknown response does not appear
as a surprising element in a plan which had
disregarded it. Occasions for action can be
forseen and judged in advance as to suitability.
The debate regarding labeling versus categorization as the
primary cognitive operation mirrors in microcosm the debate over the
Whorf-Sapir hypothesis. The linguists, Whorf and Sapir, maintained
that the vocabulary and grammatical structure of a society determined
its members' perceptions of reality and, consequently, the type of
culture developed by them. Critics of this hypothesis have maintained
that vocabulary and grammar are mainly shaped by a society's perceptions
of reality and by its cultural needs. The author favors a position
close to that of Whorf and Sapir. The author believes, moreover, that
the Whorf-Sapir hypothesis of language shaping one's perception of
objects is more applicable to the reception of persuasive messages
than it might be to other situations. A formal definition of labeling
and a more precise description of its role in persuasion will support
the foregoing observation.
The label ng_rpracer. proceeds as an inner dialogue of the self in
perceiving objects, events, or other stimuli which serve as points of
John Dollard and Neal E. Mill er, Person i tya PscatL tLbgrapy
(New York: McGraw-Hill, 1950), p. 281.
information in a communicative message. Lab .inJgrsponse, refers to
the giving of a name to the stimulus being perceived at the moment.
Although labeling refers chiefly to the assigning of verbal names to
objects, the label includes an orientation to a definite area of
action which is the receiver's response to the stimulus of the labeling
words and the entities (beyond the immediate object) of which the
labelings are signs. Fishbein further supports and elucidates this
discussion of labeling responses.
The subject tends to read, or to repeat himself,
the stimulus toward which he is attending; he
makes a "labeling response." Once the individual
has learned the concept, ha'ever,he may learn new
associations to it. lost learning occurs after the
object is labeled, so attitudes are functions of
the individual's belief (labeling about the attitude
In many situations the individual is presented first with an
object, event, or situation and proceeds to label it. In the
persuasive setting, the receiver is presented first with the persuader's
labeling of motivational concepts and of the rhetorical proposition
rather than being presented with these as actual entities. The
receiver does decide for himself whether to accept or reject the
persuader's labelings. However, because he must begin his thought
regarding these entities with labels given him by someone else he is
more likely to see objects suggested by the given labels than to val idate
the labels by reference to related aspects not suggested by them.
Especially is this likely to happen if the persuader makes his various
21Martin Fishbein, ReaJding i_ n AtLLLkdaJrQhio and Measurement
(No York: John Wiley and Sons, 1967), pp. 393-94.
labelings and the connections between them convincing (through adequate
detailing, logical connections, ethical proof, and the various perception
factors yet to be discussed in this chapter). The rhetor's biased
label ings are apt to be most convincing in situations where the
receiver knows little about the rhetorical issue. In that case the
receiver may make little or no attempt to validate the rhetor's labeling
through reference to outside knowledge of the objects represented by
Such a situation was pointed out recently by Roger Egeberg,
nominee for the post of Assistant Secretary of Health. He decried
cliches which he felt were manipulated by representatives of the
American Medical Association to frighten citizens into opposing further
medical reforms without really understanding the issues involved. In
particular, he attacked "social ization" as a word that electrifies
everyone and "compulsory" as a word that makes everybody's "hair
stand on end." His concluding remark was, "My job in Washington will
be to help get people thinking in terms of facts rather than in terms
of these cl iches."22
If the labeling of motivational concepts leads to a labeling of
the proposition that suggests a range of action acceptable to the
receiver, he will make a judgment of acceptance toward the proposition.
In his validation of the rhetor's labeling of motivational concepts
pointing toward a particular labeling of the proposition the receiver
22"Egeberg Claims Medical Field is Shattered," St. Petersburg Times,
July 5, 1969, sec. A, p. 9.
may derive a propositional statement suggesting an unacceptable range
of response. In that case his judgment will be one of rejection. There
are occasions when the rhetor presents motivational concepts in terms
of sparse or confusing details. In that case the receiver normally
cannot validate the labeling of either the motivational concepts or the
proposition,and he will make no judgment regarding the proposition.
Since labeling is so dependent upon and intimately connected with
other phases of perception, a general ized discussion follows of areas
in which perception may break darn. The major portion of this discussion
refers to hindrances to full and accurate reception of all crucial
aspects of the message. It is difficult, however, to pinpoint some of
these factors as mainly a failure in reception, or in labeling (including
categorization) or a combination of them. In particular it is difficult
to determine whether psychological blocks within a receiver hinder.
mainly reception or labeling. All that is really important is to
realize that these perceptual factors are a general hindrance to
successful persuasion. The pervasiveness of perception as the audience
comprehends points of information pertinent to the rhetorical propo-
sition, and as they begin to judge their reaction to the proposition
is illustrated in this observation:
In the accumulating experimental literature on
perception and especially on judgment, there
are recurrences that can be utilized in the
study of attitude and attitude change, .
how we see and hear things, ha- we discriminate
and compare things are not represented by cold
carbon copies of the stimulus, regardless of
the occasion. For one thing, the ways in which
we perceive and judge are determined .
within the context in which they are found
concurrently and in time sequence. But this
is not all . factors pertaining to the
individual, his background, his ego concerns, his
attitude, his organic states at the time -- have
to be considered as well, relative to the stimulus
conditions. These considerations apply to all
psychological processes, whether they involve
perceiving things, judging things learning about
things, or thinking about events.23
In the "old rhetoric" there was much concern about which side of
an issue has presumption in its favor and which has the burden of
proof in overcoming these presumptions. Recently Gary Cronkhite
suggested a broadening of the burden of proof concept. Cronkhite
stated that the rhetor bear in mind that he who asserts must prove
whatever is necessary to his assertations. Because accurate
perception is so vital the rhetor should realize that the burden is
on him to anticipate and to provide for any instances in which the
receiver might have difficulty perceiving elements of the discourse
The concept of "noise" can be used to discuss factors responsible
for a failure to transmit intended perceptions intact to auditors.
The term was coined by Richards to refer to any interference with the
full and accurate transmission of a message.2
The most obvious interference are physiological and technical
"noises." If the audience is overly tired or overneated or the
speaker's voice is not loud enough, much of the detail to be perceived
23Carolyn W. Sherif, Muzafer Sherif, and Roger E. Nebergall,
Attitude and Attilude _Change: The Social Judgement-!nvolvement Aproach
(Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Co., 1965), p. 223.
2Gary Lynn Cronkhite, "The Locus of Presumption," CeDnLta5jL ate.
.Speecj-~L Journal XVII (November, 1966), 270-76.
I. A. Richards, Speculative Instruments (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1955), p. 23.
will either be distorted or not communicated at all. There may also
be a motivational "noise" in that the audience fails to perceive the
speaker's topic as relevant to thon. This frequently happens when a
speech student talks to a college audience on medicare or social security.
On other occasions the problem really should concern the audience in
that they are capable of helping to solve it, but they have little
desire to become involved. In this case the usual reaction is to
physically or mentally tune out the persuader and his message. An
example is the lady who mumbled that her minister had spoken again on
civil rights. When asked what he had said about it, her reply was,
"Oh, I don't know, I turned off my hearing aid." Other people in
that audience probably tuned out by wool-gathering or by filling
their minds with the thought that ministers shouldn't deal with social
Discussion of the latter example leads beyond motivational "noise"
to "noise" due to conflict of attitude between the persuader and his
audience. In both cases receivers are likely to respond by applying
selective attention or by distorting the content of messages that are
Sometimes the rhetor will induce an apathetic or hostile audience
to attend to his message by initially arousing tension or fear. Martin
Luther King and Arthur Wasko., prominentt strategist for various peace
and civilorights campaigns) conceived a tension-arousal use of "direct-
action" techniques. They specified that a major purpose of demonstra-
tions, economic boycotts, and related non-verbal protest measures is to
make the previously comfortable status quo sonunconfo tabJq that attention
of the general public toward solving social injustices becomes the
path of least resistance.6 This strategic approach corresponds to
what Fotheringham discusses as the use of non-verbal tactics for the
purpose of agitation. He also discusses the use of non-verbal techniques
to convey a definite persuasive meaning, termed the'bvent-message."
"The event-message" is to be distinguished from
agitation. The goals of the latter are to
arouse feeling, to unstructure the environment
of those for whom it is planned and in general
to heighten motivation. Persuasion and with it
the "event-message" implies the establishment of a
particular view or meaning or feelings toward a
particular object as a means of bringing about a
definite action-goal. Agitation generally precedes
persuasion and is a preparation for it.27
Althc gh such an agitation step seems needed in many situations,
the nature and severity of tactics to achieve it should be chosen
carefully. The famous Yale studies in persuasion indicate that
extreme fear-arousal often has a "bomnerang effect": The auditors
develop a hatred for the communicator and are likely to do the
opposite of what lie advocates.28
To know the direction and intensity of audience attitudes which
might lend themselves to a climate of apathy or a distortion of per-
ception, the rhetor must engage in audience analysis. Audience
analysis is an important part of traditional rhetoric and most
26Martin Luther King, Why WeCan's Wait (N[l. York: New American
Library, 1964), pp. 84-94; Raymond Murphy, ed., Problemis and Prospects
of the Neg jov _erent (Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Co.,
1966), p. 377.
2Carl Hovland, Irving Janis, and Harold Kelly, .CSnmmunication
adnL.ErSfs i~Jn (INea. Haven: Yale University Press, 1953), p. 189.
suggestions to be offered regarding it are not novel, but new knowledge
about reference groups may aid the rhetor. Most audiences that
persuaders deal with are sizeable and heterogeneous. The persuader may
infer major attitudinal predispositions of the audience by Finding
what reference groups they belong to, such as, political, social,
occupational, or religious categories. Osgood makes a succinct
explanation regarding the soundness of this approach:
The analogue for a cognitive element for an
individual is what we may call a cultural
meaning (stereotype, public image, etc.) for
a group. . It is characteristic of
cohesive groups as Newecomb has shown, for inter-
personal communication to produce increased uni-
formity of opinion and attitude. Mass com-
r nications have this function for the larger
groupings of individuals in mass society . .
Many of the applications of the semantic-
differential in the study of images of
political personalities and issues, of
commercial institutions and products, . .
have dealt with cultural meanings based on
reasonably representative groups of people.
The degree of conformity on issues (of
reference group members) is often striking.
Ninety to 100 percent of subjects frequently
choosing the same side if not the same
The occasion for the rhetorical message and/or the nature of the
sponsoring group usually indicate at least one important reference
group membership. Knavledge of one or two of these enables the
persuader to infer other attitudes and reference groups they are
likely to be associated with. Psychological studies have shown that
within a given reference group, a whole constellation of attitudes
2Fishbein, p. 435.
occur together30 Perhaps the best synthesis of types which might
guide the rhetor or rhetorical critic is Adorno's discussion of the
authoritarian versus democratic personality (including implications
regarding a third in-between category).31 For instance, if a rhetor
were to address an American Legion group which stresses patriotism
and loyalty he would hypothesize that this group tends to have an
authoritarian outlook. He would infer that his legion audience is
politically conservative, respects established institutions, and is
critical of those questioning these institutions. He would further
assess that the Legionaires favor conventional morality and family
life. In particular, Legionaires would react against anything
associated with "hippies," leftists, or protest demonstrators including
the vocabulary, clothing styles, etc., characterizing these groups.
Members of the American Legion as well as other authoritarian
types are much aware of class and rank distinctions and approve of
consciously stressing them. An individual addressing this group
should never adopt the "chummy" manner which might be favorably
received by a college audience. Even if the speaker were a social
equal to the Legion audience, his function as a speaker places him
momentarily at a higher rank, the expectations of which he should
meet. If at the same time the speaker were much younger or of
lower military rank than most of his audience, he should show the
proper deference toward them in these respects. The rule of "looking
30J.id., p. 436.
'Theodore Adorno, .ot sl.., ThAiLhor ibo.rdi. ~Lnear. o _aLLty (New
York: Wiley and Sons, 1964) pp. 31-56 and 390-467.
and acting the part," respecting one's rank whether it be that of
superior, inferior, or equal applies in almost all cases. It would
apply more strongly than usual with authoritarian-oriented people,
but would be toned dawn considerably when facing a "new-left" group.
This sample audience analysis is necessarily brief and merely
suggestive. It is the duty of the persuader or critic to make a
thorough study of reference groups he may be dealing with rather than
looking for a synopsis of reference groups in this dissertation.
Duncan discusses at length the matter of proper courtship mode
between superior and inferior or between equals. Duncan's basic
formula is that one petitions superiors, commands inferiors, and
convinces equals.3 However, in a society or group which is basically
democratic as are most American societal groups, one would also
convince superiors and inferiors. Yet one'sstyle of convincing a
superior would be deferential, and requests would probably be indirect.
One's style of convincing an inferior would be more authoritative and
direct, and one might include indirect reminders of one's power (see
discussion of tystificatiorl'in Chapter V). One reason student protest
movements are largely unsuccessful in reaching concrete goals is that
their leaders attempt to deal with university superiors in brash and
commanding rather than deferential tones. Such a style angers the
administrator personally and makes him fear a weakening of the hierarchical
32Duncan, p. 340.
33J. W. Anderson "Rebell ion Follows Pattern, Usually Fails,"
MilwaiIaOgourJn l, July 17, 1968, sec. B., p. 1.
arrangement which upholds the university structure. The result is that
the administrator refuses the student request and/or does not stay
around long enough to hear it, even though he might agree that the
request itself is just and reasonable.
Similar flaws which cause audiences to fail to attend at all or
to form distorted perceptions can be seen in the characteristic style
of extreme anti-har agitators. These people frequently proceed in a
manner which offends the sense of propriety, decency, or morality of
the general public. Hence, the public tunes out reception of these
protest messages. For instance, pouring blood vials over draft-center
records, stealing the records, burning dcwn R.O.T.C. installations,
and burning draft-cards are not attention-steps which favorably
dispose the American people to listen.
The successful persuader must understand and appeal to an audience's
sense of propriety and social-interaction to secure full and accurate
reception of his message. In addition certain audience groups may
have strong psychological tensions which must be allayed before
members can properly receive and react to the rhetor's message.
An example of people likely to have extreme psychological tensions
are cultural or racial minorities. Light is shed on why they might
have special psychological problems in this observation made by Duncan:
'We are anxious to communicate well with real audiences because their
responses become our responses to ourselves.'' Dominant social groups
must interact Favorably with an individual if he is to form an adequate
3Duncan, p. 283.
self-concept. Because of the rejections minority members often
experience, their self-concepts have a large canponent of self-hate
and aggression.35 These feelings are especially activated when such
individuals face situations (including speeches) concerned with racial
or social interactions. A persuader speaking on one of these themes
to such a group should try to alleviate the probable tension of self-
hate and aggression felt by his receivers. This necessity is stressed
in this additional observation by Duncan:
Thus, if the dream is the guardian of sleep,
art is the guardian of social order. When
society supplies us with no or fea benign
ways to express our frustrations, we turn to
crime, violence, rage, or hysteria. In these
furms of communication we try to say to others
something they cannot, or will not, let us
say in other ways. The [psychiatric] analyst
permits, indeed coaches us to every kind of
hostile expression, for he knows that only
when hate is expressed can it be understood.
He styles himself as an audience of a certain
kind, and we play out our hate before him.
As the hidden and secret hate of the patient
gushes forth the physician opens wide the
Translating this view to rhetorical concerns, the discourse
creates for the moment the society the receiver is in. If this
temporary society calls forth psychological tensions, they need to be
exorcized psychoanalytically before the receiver can perceive and react
to the discourse. This is analogical to the inability of disturbed
individuals to perceive and act effectively in the larger society until
psychological problems are facedand removed, as is discussed by Bandura
35John Milton Yinger and George Eaton Simpson, Racial and
itirul iw UJil aii JJ A sAnaly M i o rctudictaudJ0.L rim init ion.
(Ncn York: Harper Brothers, 1958).
36Duncan, pp. 282-83.
in the following remark:
Most theories of psychotherapy are based on the
assumption that the patient has a repertoire of
previously learned positive habits available to
him, but that these adaptive patterns are inhibited
or blocked by competing responses motivated by
anxiety or guilt. The goal of therapy then is to
reduce the severity of the internal inhibitory
controls, thus, allowing the healthy patterns of
behavior to emerge.37
The hated elements of oneself must be purged before one under
this type of tension can concentrate on constructive activity. Scape-
goating is frequently used to exorcize aggression against oneself. The
individual or group projects its cwn hated flaws on to another object
and then symbolically (or in actuality) destroys it. One can also
exorcize one's hated characteristics by joking about oneself or about
an object on which the bad traits have been projected. The manner
in which humorous catharsis mitigates self-hatred is explained by a
neo-Freudian psychologist in these terms:
In the humorous attitude the superego
relates itself to the ego like a good
parent to a child: lenient, understanding,
forgiving, kind. Wit utilizes infantile
pleasure in order to release aggressive
tendencies; in humor, the saving of emotion
reactivates a joyful narcissistic state
during which the superego treats the ego
with kindliness and not with the usual
3Albert Bandura, "Psychotherapy as a Learning Process," in Staats,
ed., p. 478.
8Duncan, pp. 125-31.
39artin Grotjahn, Bcyon Latghlitr (INcw York: McGraw-Hil l,
1957), p. 11.
Minority groups are not the only ones who may require tragic or
humorous catharsis to alleviate psychological tensions which interfere
with the ability to concentrate. Whenever a significant portion of the
audience has intense feelings of fear, aggression, self-hate, or guilt;
the rhetor should provide early in his message for an appropriate
tension-release. Any group temporarily undergoing an upsetting experi-
ence may be in need of psychological exorcizing. Obscenity is widely
used in comments by military men to relieve psychological tensions due
to the radically different environment and value system soldiers
frequently must face.4 In Chapter IV, there will be a description of
the use of symbolic scapegoating to aid members of American society
during the depression. Americans during this period had to overcome
feelings of fear and aggression which had prevented constructive and
unified action. The tragic catharsis created by Roosevelt involved
not self-hate but external hatred against the business classes. Such
external hatred can also be purged through either a tragic or a
humorous catharsis. Hatred features of the other group are exaggerated
and then either satirized or killed symbolically. Insight into the
working of satiric catharsis against an enemy is given in this
observation. Note also that this method would improve an individual's
self-communication because aggression would be spent without at the
same time creating guilt:
Aggressive wit gives us a no' way of admitting
dangerous aggression to our consciousness but it
has to be done in cleverly disguised form. The
4Duncan, pp. 345-50.
first person, the one who makes the joke or
perceives the idea, attacks the second person,
the butt of the joke. .. In order to test
whether the work of disguising the aggressive
tendency was successful, the first person has
to tell his witticism to a third person. The
one who has conceived the joke cannot himself
laugh because he is too close to the original
aggression and the feeling of guilt about it.
The third person, to whom the witticism is
told is only a listener and judges only the
disguise of the underlying aggression. When
the third person to whom the joke is told,
reacts with laughter, the first person who had
originally conceived the witticism, may join
him in the laughter with relief: the disguise
has succeeded. Hostile jokes lift repressions
and open up otherwise inaccessible sources of
pleasure.[but especially it opens internal
and external communication].4
The foregoing discussion indicates that generally persuasion is
effected during the labeling stage. The persuader's strategy is to
induce the receiver'to label the proposition in a manner he can
respond to favorably. After labeling almost nothing short of force
would change the direction of the ensuing result of the persuasive
effort. The tactic of force would achieve forced compliance rather
than persuasion. Persuasion has been defined in this study not
merely as outward action in accordance with the proposition, but as
also an inner mediational response of acceptance (self-persuasion).
If enough is known about both the audience and the persuasive message,
the critic can infer the probability of self-persuasion taking place.
By anticipating the factors of psychological perception discussed
here and by use of word symbols carefully chosen to convey motivational
Grotjahn, p. 35.
concepts well-selected in respect to the audience, the rhetor is likely
to secure favorable labeling of propositions to.iard which the receivers
might initially have been unfavorably disposed. This approach also
supposes a gradual lead into a rontroversial proposition rather than
blatantly announcing it early in the message. A generally loose
structuring of the message and generation of strong ethos also aid
favorable acceptance of a controversial proposition.
Although what has been developed here is a "labeling theory" of
persuasion, it in no way implies a return to sophism. To use word
choices and examples the audience can understand and show logical
connections between these and the proposition should require a
finding of true unities between these components. If the audience
is critical, it will demand realistic connections between motivational
concepts and the proposition. This means that verifiable evidence
of connection as well as seeming connection through favorable symbol
usage should be offered (this distinction is discussed in Chapter III
in reference to an address by Robert Ingersoll).
In the next chapter the process of associational conditioning will
be defined and explored in greater depth. Aspects of conditioning to
be given particular attention are the nature and function of motivational
concepts. Additional factors of learning theory which significantly
affect persuasive conditioning will also be detailed.
42ontrovLrsial is defined here as an issue on which many of the
audience are likely to disagree initially with the rhetor's proposition.
4Sherif, Sherif, and Nebergall, p. 172 and p. 187.
Chapter IV amplifies that which is a major instrument for the
development of motivational concepts and is the major instrument for
conveying them. The chapter is an in-depth exploration of verbal
symbols as they are used to show the linkage between motivational
concepts and the proposition.
Chapter V is concerned with miscellaneous factors of social inter-
action which may hinder or facilitate the persuasive process. Chief
of these factors is social mystification which is often used to
promote privileges for certain social groups while withholding them
from others. Techniques to counter these social 'rystifications'are
frequently used in either individual discourses or in massive campaigns
concerned with winning greater social or political pawer for a given
group. The development of or the countering of mystificationss"
constitutes a special case of developing or countering motivational
concepts. Hence, Chapter V, like Chapter IV, is chiefly an expansion
of a major topic developed in Chapters II and IlI, which contain the
heart of the theory.
A MODEL OF SUCCESSFUL PERSUASION WITH ASSOCIATIONAL
CONDITIONING THE CHIEF STRATEGY
The previous chapter contained a generalized discussion of the
overall theory of successful persuasion upon which is based the new
critical theory presented in this dissertation. This chapter
amplifies the associational conditioning process, which outlines the
basic strategy to be employed by the rhetor. Associational condition-
ing is proffered as being equivalent to Burke's concept of identi-
fication, but as a more precise explication of the mechanics involved
in identifying major message appeals with the persuasive proposition.
Hence, identification and related Burkeian concepts are explicated
in the early part of the chapter; then, a merger of identification with
associational conditioning is effected. There is also discussion of
related factors of learning theory which facil itate the conditioning
process. Motivational concepts are the specific elements to be
conditioned to the proposition, hence, much of the discussion of
conditioning centers upon these concepts. Exemplification of adequate
or inadequate use of motivational concepts is explored in selected
speech examples. In the latter part of the chapter there is also
explication of the special types of motivational concepts utilized in
mass campaigns. Miscellaneous considerations in carrying out long-range
campaigns are also discussed as these considerations have a bearing on
how the total message of the campaign, especially the lines of condi-
tioning upon which the campaign is built, are likely to be perceived.
It is common in persuasion textbooks to speak of the efficacy
of establishing common ground between the persuader and his audience.
For instance, the persuader is advised to demonstrate that some
features of his background, or experience, or certain of his values or
beliefs are similar to those of his receivers. Through these types of
common ground the persuader will enhance his ethos, thus increasing audi-
ence receptivity in listening to the persuader's arguments leading to
his proposition. Some writers of persuasion texts explore the concept
of common ground in a further direction. They suggest that the
persuader can do the best job of winning acceptance for his proposition
if it can be connected with felt needs or prior beliefs of the audience.2
In this latter sense, common ground is closely related to the develop-
ment of togpoi (lines of argument) as discussed by Aristotle, Cicero, and
Quintilian, although the discussion of motives providing common ground
is greatly extended in modern persuasion writings.
Currently there is much interest in Kenneth Burke's concept of
identification, but the author's observation has been that much of
the discussion regarding Burke's concept is carried on by people who
Winston Brembeck and William S. Howell, Persasion: A Means of
Social ControL (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1952):
2Robert T. Ol iver, The PsychologQ y of persuasive Speech (New York:
Longmans, Green, and Co., 1942), pp. 255-87; James A. Winans, Public
54peakin (NaI York: Century Co., 1922), pp. 260-64.
have not read his works. They try to infer the meaning of Burkeian
Identification from their understanding of what the term identification
signifies in general usage. These discussants generally infer that
identification is equivalent to common ground in one or both of the
senses just discussed. Burke's concept of identification does include
both of these factors, but goes beyond them, as it is the core concept
in his overall theory of persuasion.3
Since there is currently much interest in Burke, along with a lack
of accurate knowledge of his thought, his basic vie.- of identification
will be discussed briefly. There is an additional reason for this
discussion. Some of Burke's other persuasion concepts as stated by
him or as restated by Hugh Duncan are cited elsewhere in this disser-
tation. These additional concepts will be clear if one understands
his view of identification. The survey of rhetorical theorists' views
on common ground or identification is included because the main sub-
ject of this chapter, associational conditioning, can be thought of as
persuasion through a psychological identification process. This process
is activated by motivational concepts conveyed through verbal symbols
and is completed as engram connections are made in the brain. Associa-
tional conditioning is the core of the persuasion theory presented in
this dissertation just as identification is the core of Burke's
persuasion theory. Indeed Burke's discussion of t-e various facets of
identification is consistent with the conditioning theory presented here.
3Kenneth Burke, Rketoric__i4_otivs. (Cleveland: World Publishing
Co., 1962), pp. 521-23.
Both Burke and his chief restater, Hugh Duncan, make perceptive
generalizations regarding identific,.; i, but they do not follow through
by discussing the specific mechanics of identification as they facili-
tate persuasion within receivers. The discussion later in this
chapter regarding associational conditioning provides such an under-
standing of the specific mechanics involved.
Before defining Burkeian identification, one needs to consider
Burke's definition of rhetoric and to understand how he interrelates
rhetoric and identification.
It [rhetoric] is rooted in an essential function
of language itself, a function that is wholly
realistic, and is continually born anew, the use
of language as a symbolic means of inducing
cooperation in beings that by nature respond to
The purpose of rhetoric is to induce the degree of cooperation
among individuals enabling them to act together. The manner of inducing
cooperation is to show the individuals concerned ways in which they
already identify in common.5 One specifically accomplishes this by
demonstrating to individuals that they share properties such as
common experiences, values or attitudes. Common experiences are the
sources of the most meaningful level of identification. Since values and
attitudes have much to do with determining action in concrete situations,
commonality in regard to either of these indicates a potential for
common experiences. Hence, commonality in respect to value or attitude
4hid., p. 567.
5L hid., p. 544-45.
provides For a satisfactory though weaker level of identifica-
Stated a bit differently, rJiLLricz is the inducing of oneness
and cooperation by proclaiming that some level of identification
already exists. Identification and its opposite, division, actually
For one need not scrutinize the concept of identifi-
cation very sharply to see implied in it at every
turn, its ironic counterpart, division.7
Identification is affirmed with earnestness precisely
because there is division. Identification is
compensatory to division. If men were not apart from
one another, there would be no need for the rhetorician
to proclaim their unity.8
An excellent example of Burke's analysis is provided in the
following excerpt from a sermon by William Temple, former Archbishop
Let us never forget that though the purpose of
our meeting is to consider the causes of our
divisions, yet what makes possible our meeting
is our unity. We could not seek union if we did
not already possess unity. Those who have
nothing in common do not deplore their estrange-
ment. It is because we are one in allegiance to
one Lord that we seek and hope for the way of
manifesting that unity in our witness to Him
before the world.9
Sometimes in a rhetorical event division against one person or
group is deliberately induced in order to achieve identification among
all those except the individual or group being excluded,l0 (See in
Jbid., pp. 547-48. 7_bLd., p. 547. 8Jd., p. 546.
W i 1 iam Temple, ReB~ gijous xp rLenc.L2n .dthe .-Qusay. (London:
James Clarke, 1958), p. 157.
Burke, p. 569.
Chapter IV discussion of a scapegoat role for businessmen in Roosevelt's
First Inaugural as exemplification of this phenomenon.)
Burke states that the "old rhetoric" utilized the concept of
identification mainly in terms of lines of argument which had common
appeal for audiences. The "old rhetoric" also gave some concern to
stylistic phrasing which would bring these topoj most clearly in line
with audience predispositions regarding the subject under question.11
Burke has no quarrel with these particular uses of identification, but
he feels the concept should be broadened and extended in a number of
Our treatment in terms of identification is decidedly
n t meant as a substitute for the sound traditional
approach. Rather as we try to show, it is but an
accessory to the standard lore.12
Burke uses the term identification in three distinct though inter-
Regarding the first capacity, identification is the generating
principle of tactics to achieve persuasion. The number of specific
identification tactics available to the rhetor is countless. Delineating
factors of a given situation will make the choice of certain modes of
identification more appropriate than others. Burke has grouped
identification tactics into three general categories. The first of
these is used to seek an uncritical identification. The rhetor
presents a line of identification supposedly as fact, but in a manner
which discourages interpretation. The example Burke gives is that of
I bid., pp. 580-81.
jbid., p. 522.
implying that a person with a particular uniform is a qualified
representative of that occupation. The second category is concerned
with analogical associations between various fields; this category
allays for interpretation as well as mere statement of fact. For
example, a university administrator Facing students hostile to an
acceptance of his authority might point out ways in which they accept
the principle of authority in fraternities, sororities, and athletic
teams. The third category is concerned with identifications between
concepts in terms of a similar ideological principle; this third level
allows for evaluation as well as presenting fact and interpretation.3
An example is a major argument used in the Nineteenth Century by
promoters of American imperialism. They reminded their audience
that the expansion of America's western frontier had been good for
the nation. To this premise they added a stated interpretation that
imperialist expansion in the Pacific and in the Caribbean was merely
a special case of western expansion.
Within the completed process of persuasion, two additional facets
of identification are operative. One of these is known to rhetoricians
as a part of audience analysis. It is known to social scientists
as role-taking. The successful persuader must identify with (internalize)
his audience to gauge how they might react to various persuasive
tactics and phrasings of them that he considers using. Finally
Lbid., pp. 658-59.
14Ibid., pp. 560-61.
Burke discusses self-identification (self-persuasion) as it pertains
to the receiver of the persuasive discourse:
To act upon himself persuasively, he must resort
to images and ideas that are formative. If he does
not somehow act to tell himself (as his aon audience)
what the various brands of rhetoricians have told
him, his persuasion is not complete. Only those
voices from without are effective which can speak
in the language of a voice within.15
It might be helpful to define self-identification or self-
persuasion in this manner: the receiver must perceive on his a.n the
conclusion of the chain of reasoning set forth in the speech. If the
receiver cannot see for himself the conclusion which equals the
rhetorical proposition proceeding from the argumentative strategy, he
is not persuaded.
A merger is made in the next section of this chapter of Burke's three
facets of identification: generating principle of persuasive tactics,
role-taking, and self-persuasion, with a model of the persuasive
process developed by Gary Cronkhite. Cronkhite's persuasion model
is consistent with Burke's conception of identification. In addition,
Cronkhite delineates more concretely than Burke the view of persuasion
as an identification process. A close study of Burke yields theoretical
perceptions fitting Cronkhite's model, but which were not actually
realized in it. The merger of these two viewpoints yields helpful
insights to guide the analysis and evaluation of rhetorical efforts.
Cronkhite defines the persuasion process as one of identification:
A persuasive communication can on a simplified
level be viewed as an attempt to induce the
'5bid., p. 563.
audience to perceive a relationship between two
concepts in order that audience attitudes toward
the one will transfer to the other.16
Cronkhite defines the two types of concepts and amplifies the
process of interrelating them:
One of these concepts is one taoard which the
audience has not formed attitudes, or if formed,
attitudes which the speaker considers capable
of being altered. In deliberative speaking this
concept is the plan of action proposed by the
speaker; in forensic speaking it is the conviction
or acquittal of the defendant; in epideictic
speaking it is the person or thing praised or
blamed. We shall refer to this concept, as the
"object concept," in that it is the object
toward which persuasion is directed.
The other of the two concepts is one toward which
the audience has preformed attitudes which the
speaker expects to remain relatively stable. This
concept may be viewed as a goal to be achieved
or avoided, and, thus, it has motivational
properties-which are either inherent or acquired
through its relationships with concepts which
do have motivational properties. We will
refer to this concept as the "motivational."
In short, the speaker induces the audience to cooperate in
accepting or carrying out his proposition by associating it with
beliefs, attitudes, needs, or courses of action which the audience
already adheres to. These motivational concepts are entities toward
which the audience has previously established emotional feelings of
approach or avoidance. The perceived connections between these
motivational concepts and the rhetorical proposition are the logical
16Gary Lynn Cronkhite, "Logic, Emotion, and the Paradigm of
Persuasion," u et'c.JLy_JntrLoaLp ige&_', L (February, 1964), 15.
proofs of the discourse. Cronkhite underscores that there are an
infinite number of possible motivational concepts (sources of identifica-
tion) available to the rhetor.19
In discussing the relationship between the proposition or object
concept and the motivational concepts, Cronkhite makes an additional
observation, defining the persuasive process as one of associational
conditioning. Following this line of thought, he holds that it is
justifiable for rhetoricians to utilize principles from learning theory
to supplement their notions regarding the persuasive process.
Motivational concepts are unconditioned stimuli
which automatically call forth a predictable
response in auditors of a rhetorical message.
The rhetor seeks to connect these so strongly
with his proposition that auditors will be
conditioned to make a similar response to the
proposition as they make to the motivational
concepts. Generally the closer the identifi-
cation between the two concepts the greater
will be the similarity of response to the two
orders of concepts-motivational and object.20
Cronkhite adds that several factors which facilitate learning
intervene to determine how close a connection will be made (in the
mind of the receiver) between previous action toward the motivational
concept and possible action toward the conditioning stimuli, the
rhetorical proposition. The strength of the intervening learning
factors will determine the potential strength of commitment that
receivers could develop toward the rhetor's proposition.21
18Lb.id., p. 16. 19I d.., pp. 16-18.
20 ,bid., pp. 15-16. 2. ., p. 18.
The intervening factors likely to have an effect are motivation,
generalization, contiguity, reinforcement, and summation.2 Each
of these :erms will be defined formally. Relating these learning
factors to the persuasive situation, motivatioa refers to the audience's
interest in the rhetorical topic. eneralization refers to the degree
of analogous connection between the motivational concepts) and the
rhetorical proposition. Cntignity refers to the degree of temporal
relation of the motivational concepts) to the rhetorical proposition.
Rainformc.ent refers to the connection of rewards with the acting
out of the rhetorical proposition. Sometimes it also involves the
connection of punishment with behavior which is the obverse of the
proposition; these are, however, more properly termed extinctions.
S.inma Htion refers to repetition of the main lines of argument connecting
motivational concepts to the proposition.
Operational definitions of the learning factors are presented by
discussing a speech concerned with the problem of stuttering. The
speaker's proposition was -- "There are things you as a listener can
do to help people avoid becaning stutterers or to aid rather than
hinder them, if they already have this problem." Audience motivation
to attend to this message was high since the audience were portrayed
as a potential cause and a potential solution to the problem.
There were two main lines of reinforcement in the speech. The
one chiefly stressed was a feeling of satisfaction if one succeeds in
22Dennis G. Day, "Learning and Communication Theory," enr.a.L
t~aes e SpRCe~ Jinal, XV (May, 1964), 86-87;David Berlo, Jhi _EbIQr~~QCS
.FLJL.amrimiLc.aj (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1960), pp.
helping the stutterer. The reinforcement stressed secondarily was that
one would not want to be responsible for helping to create a stutterer
or helping to make the stutterer's problem worse. Generalization of
the cause of the problem was begun by giving a detailed example of a
store clerk who was very rude to two customers who were stutterers.
Since listeners were urged to avoid being a cause of the problem, the
causes were the major motivational concepts of the speech. Summation
(repetition of the main line of argument) was provided by making this
statement at the conclusion of the detailed example.
I'm sure that none of us here has or ever will
treat a stutterer in such a rude and callous manner.
Nevertheless through ignorance we might help to
cause or worsen a condition of stuttering unless
we remember as a listening relative, friend,
teacher, or business associate these suggestions:
(1) Don't become anxious or scolding about a
child's difficulty with a few words or letters
from time to time. (2) Don't try to help an
adult stutterer with words. (3) Look directly
at the stutterer and try to show no anxiety about
his grapple for words. (4) Don't in any other
way call attention to the stutterer's condition.
Contiguity (temporal connection) was satisfactory in that the
college students in the audience either were fulfilling sane of the
listening roles discussed already or soon would be.
As a result of the foregoing discussion of associational condition-
ing, a number of suggested points for rhetorical analysis and evaluation
I. Internalizing the audience. Did the rhetor fail to internal-
ize the audience in any respects pertinent to the situation, such
23Dana Duncan, "You and the Stutterer," (presented in a University
of Florida Speech Class), December, 1967.
as, social-economic, political, ethical, or pragmatic orienta-
II. lotivatlln and the Rhetorical prnoosition. (A) Did the
rhetor speak to a felt need of the audience? (B) Did he at least
succeed in making it a felt need in the course of his speech? (C) Was
the specific proposition (object concept) clarified and consistently
adhered to in the message? (D) Did the proposition call for a response
which could be carried out by those in the audience, and/or were
serious barriers to audience action minimized?
III. factox-s of JHahit-Scngt eessayto successful Coditionin.
(A) Reinforcement: were the rewards of follaqing the proposition well-
established and appealing? (B) If appropriate, were punishments of
continuing behavior contrary to the proposition strongly stressed and
logically connected with the obverse of the proposition? (C) Generali-
zation and contiguity: was the probability of analogical connection
(considering both appropriateness and time-relatedness) between the
proposition and the key motivational concepts sufficiently established?
(D) Were sufficient amplification and appropriate language choices
used to heighten probability and strength of these analogical connections?
(E) Summation: was conditioning established through several examples
conveying a similar line of identification? (Particularly if each
example had a better appeal than others for certain audience segments.)
(F) Were summary, repetition, and parallel structures used to integrate
effectively the several examples pointing to the desired association
with the rhetorical proposition?
A short speech will be analyzed and evaluated in terms of the
above analytical-evaluative points to enable a fuller understanding of
The speech to be assessed was presented by a student of public
speaking at the University of Florida, in October, 1966. A verbatim
copy of the speech is not available. What is reproduced here is a
faithful representation of the organization, argumentative strategy,
and major forms of supporting material. What is missing are a few
of the ampl ifying details, and the accurate, complete symbolization
itself.24 The text reproduced here is adequate to the purpose of
making a generalized analysis and evaluation in terms of the aspects
of conditioning discussed in this chapter. If the concerns to be
discussed in Chapter IV regarding symbol manipulations were to be'
added, a word for word manuscript would be required.
This particular speech was selected for several reasons. It is
desirable to test and to illustrate the "new criticism" with samples
given by rhetors speaking under varying circumstances to divergent
persuasive purposes. The speech also illustrates certain persuasive
problems which are well-diagnosed with reference to the criteria
discussed in this chapter.
Finally remedies to the major strategic weaknesses can be seen
by considering passages from an address by Robert Ingersoll supporting
the same proposition. The student speech, dealing with the issue of
dependence on religion,was delivered to a class of twenty-two beginning
public speaking students. Three members of the class were Roman Catholic,
about one-third were of Jewish background and the remainder were
2The researcher was the instructor for this course and heard the
entire speech. Students in this class reacted with verbal comments and
assessments on the day the speech was given. Two subsequent classes
evaluated the speech in terms of the partial manuscript presented here
as a part of their midterm exam.
Currently our society is experiencing a decline in
religious values. I can cite a number of examples
to show that people are less concerned with religion
than they were a few years ago.
For instance, in the last ten years the total percentage
of the population which are church members has declined
Also a national survey has shown that people currently
read the Bible only about half as much as they did 20
years ago. Another finding of the same survey has
shown that 40 percent of those interviewed could not
name the authors of the four gospels.
Another instance of this religious decline is the fact
that the Catholic Church is changing some of its ritual,
particularly the use of Latin, and is also changing
some of its views on birth control.
A final proof of the decline is the development of a
radical movement in theology called the "God is dead"
In large part scientific and philosophical developments
explain this decline in religious values which our
society is experiencing. For instance, religious
values began to decline somewhat a hundred years ago
after Darwin's theory of evolution was elaborated.
Herbert Spencer's "social Darwinism" also had a
negative effect. Further astronomical and geological
theories added their negative effect. In addition
there was the pragmatist philosophy of James and
Dewey, and last but not least the psychological
theory of Freud.
In addition, the lack of closeness of American families
and the lack of religious instruction in the public
schools are causes.
I guess in the future we will have to depend on our-
selves instead of on spiritual values.
The proposition of this speech is -- "In the future depend on
yourselves, not on religion." The term reqigjon was never defined,
and concrete areas in which one might apply self-dependcnce were
never discussed. The end result was that the proposition was too
hazy and generalized to channel effective audience energy in any
direction, yet the audience had given the appearance of strong
interest when the speaker announced his topic.25
The type of personal decision and application called for in the
proposition was of a nature that the audience would have been capable of
producing. However, it would have been a response involving an act of
will over a long period of time. This means that the rewards of depend-
ing on one's self would Iave to have been portrayed as appealing and
highly probable results on this course of action. A stressing of punish-
ments (negative or unpleasant effects) resulting from continued depend-
ence on religion would also have been helpful to the most persuasive case.
But the speaker failed to develop either the punishments of
depending on religion or the rewards of depending on one's self.
The speaker's main line of argument was to state in several
different ways that people were already dependent on themselves rather
than on religion. He did not give his listeners reasons why they ought
to have accepted this condition. He gave no reinforcement for following
the prescribed behavior, yet the viev of persuasion as a form of learning
indicates that reinforcement is a crucial phase of the persuasion process.
In addition, when the speaker summarized his proposition at the
conclusion of the speech he seemed ambivalent. One wondered if he
agreed with this course of action himself or had after accepting it
as fact, stoically concluded that whatis j_5mjubest.
The speaker's contention that a lack of dependence on religion is
the current condition was not established in a convincing manner. The
audience indicated that they considered only the discussion of the
25In addition psychological studies of youth show that an important
part of their search for identity is an exploration of what they will
think and do regarding religion. See especially C. G. Jung, The
Undiscovered Self (Boston: Little, Brcwn and Co., 1958), pp. 58-70.
"God is dead" theology as strong proof of this contention. They Felt
that changes in the Catholic Church have little or no connection with
the decline of dependence on religion. The item regarding a changed
Catholic position on birth control was not even factually true. The
statistics on the decline of church attendance and on decreased
reading of the Bible were considered as partially establishing the
contention. Most listeners did not feel that these institutional
aspects equaled the whole of religiosity or of religious dependence.
The statement regarding knowledge of the gospel writers indicated that
in the speaker's mind religion was to be equated with Christianity
and especially with Protestantism. This expressed line of thought
and the inference stated regarding changes in the Catholic Church
were tactless towards those of Jewish or Catholic background, indicating
a poor internalization of these respective groups.
Many of the points covered in the analysis and evaluation of the
preceding speech would have been included in a more traditionally-
oriented piece of criticism. Undoubtedly, a traditional critic would
have noted that the proposition was vague, that important terms were
undefined, and that there were problems in establishing the probability
of the contention regarding an already established lack of dependence
on religion. The traditional critic would have added that the total
speech was unmotivating and lacked adequate supporting material. But
the traditional critic probably would have stopped short of specifying
that the precise material needed was the establishment of reinforcement
which would condition auditors toward acting out the rhetorical propo-
sition. This, after all, was the critical flaw of the speech. Moreover,
the use of learning theory terminology provides for a precise, and well
structured analysis, and learning concepts provide authoritative
criteria for the assessments made.
The main line of argument in the foregoing speech was -- "Accept
a lack of dependence on religion because this situation already is
established fact." Unless the audience were driven by the desire for
conformity for conformity's sake, this line of reasoning contained
no motivational concept at all.
Every so often the critic will encounter a persuasive message
which is really not associated with any motivational concepts. This
situation is especially likely to occur in speeches concerned with
upholding a tradition such as, orthodox religion, conventional sexual
morality, patriotism, or the authority of institutional leaders.
For instance in May, 1968, a member of the state of Florida Board
of Regents attempted to defend the proposition, "Final authority for
decisions is given to the Board of Regents regarding all matters of
policy referred to this body." Excerpts are cited from a written
report of the address in order that its lack of motivational concepts
can be discussed.
The purpose of the speech, as announced in the
public notices was that of explaining hai the
Board of Regents worked, its administrative
relationship to the University of Florida and
the State Board of Education, and its role in
the educational system. . .
The students came to discuss issues, especially
compulsory ROTC; several statements made by some
of the students indicated that they mistrusted
authority in general. One forecast a wave of
student revolt if demands were not met. . .
The students seemed to have difficulty under-
standing (the speakers) lines of reasoning,
perhaps because of their lack of acquaintance
with an administrative situation.
The speaker's main point . might be para-
phrased as follows: in the educational structure as
it no4 stands, the Board of Regents is given the
authority for final decisions on all matters of
policy referred to it. It reaches its decisions
only after due deliberation and consideration of
all the evidence. Authority must rest so.nahere
(this statement which so antagonized the students
must be to a lawyer an everyday working principle)
-- that is someone must hold the responsibility
for making a final decision, otherwise there can
be no organized execution of any plan.
Parts of these arguments especially his repeated
use of the word authority seemed to antagonize
the attitudes of the students, and to increase the
"semantic noise" resulting from the difference in
background and position between the speaker and
The speaker's arguments were largely ineffective
in influencing the students to whom he spoke, due
in a large part to their prejudice and his position
of authority. He exacerbated this situation by
talking in legalistic terms and by using such a term
as authority which has bad connotations for some
of the students.26
This speech can be characterized as one in which the main supports
for the proposition seemed to be restatements of the proposition and
formal definitions of the term authoriLty. The persuasion model
developed in this chapter points to the conclusion that restatements
of the proposition and formal definitions of its chief terms are weak
proofs which cannot carry the burden of argument. Neither of these
types of proof provide concrete, detailed motivational concepts which
make associational conditioning and, hence, persuasion possible.
Moreover, since the audience is yet to be persuaded to accept the
26Douglas Wing, "Report of a Persuasive Speech," (unpublished
speech critique, May, 1968), pp. 1-4.
proposition, proofs derivative of it could not be motivational
concepts already accepted by the audience.
The regent should have presented either operational definitions
of authority already accepted by the audience or analogies relating to
authorities acceptable to students in other situations. Then his
speech would have been based on definite motivational concepts
accepted by the audience, plausibly related to his proposition, and
orienting the audience toward the area of action called for in the
The main arguments of religious speakers frequently lack con-
nections with true motivational concepts. For instance, the evangelist
may argue "Believe in Christianity because it is true" or "Believe in
Christianity because you ought to believe it" or "Believe in Christianity
because God calomands you to believe." All three of these are cases of
using as an argument, a definition of a key propositional term, citing
an attribute of the proposition in the view of the believer. Instead
the evangelist should use an idea having audience acceptance that can
be related convincingly to the proposition. The even more frequent
argument "Believe in Christianity because the Bible says such and such,"
is a similar example of circular reasoning. A non-believer in
Christianity normally does not accept the Bible or any of its parts as
a motivational concept. The Bible can only be used as a motivational
concept for persons who believe in some critical aspects of Christianity
to persuade them to accept additional beliefs or modify forms of
Several examples have been presented of messages lacking reinforce-
ment to induce auditors to act out the persuader's proposition because
motivational concepts were absent or very weak. In a lecture titled
"The Truth" Robert Ingersoll dealt with a proposition equivalent to
the one advocated in the student speech discussed earlier. There are
some significant flaws in Ingersoll's persuasive case, but he develops
more definite motivational concepts to reinforce his proposition than
the student speaker did. For that reason it should be helpful to
make a brief analysis and assessment of Ingersoll's address. Only
the aspects of reinforcement and extinction will be discussed in a
The follaving is the proposition of Ingersoll"s speech "The
Man will find that nature is the only revelation
and that he, by his own efforts, must learn to
read the stories told by star and cloud, by rock
and soil, by sea and stream, by rain and fire,
by plant and flaoer, by life in all its various
forms, and all the things and forces of the world.
When le reads these stories, these records, he
will knao that man must rely on himself -- that
the supernatural does not exist and that man must
be the province of man.27
Ingersoll conceives of the rewards of eschewing dependency on
religion as broad and universal. He also states that the desired
action is necessary to human progress, and equates this action with
free thought, free will and free action -- the most prized values
of an Anglo-Saxon culture.
By these means man will overcome many of the
obstructions of nature. He will cure or avoid
many diseases. He will lessen pain. He will
27C. P. Farrell, ed., Jngersnllis works, (New York:
Ingersoll Publishers Inc., 1900), Vol. .IV, p. 79.
lengthen, enoble and enrich life. In every direction
he will increase his power. He will satisfy his
wants, gratify his tastes. He will put roof and
raiment, food and fuel, home and happiness within
the reach of all. He will destroy the serpents of
fear, the monsters of superstition. He will become
intelligent, and free, honest and serene .
human beings will have each other instead of gods,
men will do right not for the sake of reward in some
other world, but for the sake of happiness here.28
Toward the end of this passage Ingersoll has begun to list sane of
the punishments of the obverse of his proposition. These are further
discussed by contrasting them with the rewards of self-dependency of
thought and action.
It does not ask man to cringe or crawl. It does not
desire the worship of the ignorant or the progress
and praises of the frightened. It says to every
human being. Think for yourself, enjoy the freedom
of a god and have the goodness and courage to
express your honest thought.29
Contrast is used again in the next passage.
Superstition is the serpent that crawls and hisses
in every Eden and fastens its poisonous fangs in the
hearts of men. It is the deadliest foe of the human
race. Superstition is a beggar -- robber, a tyrant.
Science is a benefactor. Superstition sheds blood.
Science sheds light.30
Reward-punishment identifications of this type are developed
abundantly throughout the speech. These identifications with freedom
are motivational concepts which would have strong appeal with a general
American audience of any time period. A close inspection reveals
haoever, that these motivational concepts have little or no sub-
stantive content. In essence they are little more than a series of
28 bd. 29. .,1 pp. 78-79.
30 ., p 00.
1J1s., p. 100.
positive and negative name-callings. A major contention in Chapter IV
is that stylistic phrasings in themselves become a part of rhetorical
proof. Nevertheless, while the most excellent speakers choose their
words carefully to add support to their ideas, they offer objectively
verifiable evidence. Ingersoll offers this level of proof less often
than he could. It is clear what types of evidence he should provide
in greater abundance from the few that he does produce. For instance,
in one place he cites persecution, war, and suppression of scientific
inquiry as bad results of the status quo. But he does not detail
these or even name specific incidents in these categories. Neither does
he establish that they are recent events or that they are a result
of religious dependence per se rather than a narrow-minded application
of it. (These are examples of failure to establish strong motivational
probability with respect to the factors of contiguity and general ization.)
One passage which supports Ingersoll's line of thought quite well
is a melange of specific statements from the Bible with interpretations
by Ingersoll in ironic placement with the statements.
It [the church] claims to have preached peace
because its founder said, "I came not to bring
peace but a sword."
It claims to have preserved the family because
its founder offered a hundred-fold here and life
everlasting to those who would desert wife and
So it claims to have taught the brotherhood of
man and that the gospel is for all the world
because Christ said to the woman of Samaria that
he came only to the lost sheep of the house of
31l id., pp. 93-9.4.
Israel, and declared that it was not meet to take
the bread of children and cast it unto dogs.
In the name of Christ, who threatened eternal
revenge, it has preached forgiveness.32
Further evidences of this nature might have been offered in the
speech to provide summation.
Ingersoll did a much better job than the student speaker because
he provided reinforcement for the desired response to the proposition
at the same time inducing extinction of behavior contrary to the
desired response. Ingersoll failed to do an excellent job with this
proposition because in most instances reinforcement and extinction
were supported with insufficient evidence. There was, moreover,
insufficient detailing of the evidences that were presented. Also
there was an over-dependence on name-calling of an exaggerated quality.
This flaw is likely to have weakened the speaker's overall credibility
with a number of his listeners.
The theoretical model of persuasion developed in Chapter I
and expanded in this one has been discussed primarily in reference to one
persuader and his face-to-face audience. The conditioning principles
developed would apply also to mass campaigns. Hvoever, in the expanded
setting of the mass campaign; slogans, images of leaders, associations
of the group being promoted with other societal groups, as well as a
generalized ideology are the usual motivational concepts. In a campaign
or movement for social reform, motivational concepts of this nature are
used to induce favorable acceptance of the proposition -- "Grant group x
32L.d., pp. 96-97.
greater equality or privilege in such and such an area." In a
presidential campaign scme of the major motivational concepts are
features of the party platform, campaign slogans, endorsements by
famous personalities, and by major interest groups, endorsements by
major news media, campaign promises of the candidate, and the general
personality image conveyed by the candidate and by his family and
associates. These concepts are associated with the proposition --
"Vote for candidate x." Factors which could distort the total campaign
message or at least obscure major lines of conditioning are considered
The mass campaign would be complicated with multiple communication
channels and with multiple audiences which frequently do not meet the
persuader face-to-face. The critic would have to consider at least a
two-step persuasion channel any time that messages are conveyed
through the mass media such as radio, television, or newspapers. The
reason is that people are not generally influenced directly by messages
conveyed through the mass media. Individuals the receiver knows
personally and respects at least in regard to knowledge of the topic
being considered must state opinions similar to those conveyed through
a mass communication channel, before the receiver will be significantly
influenced. These influencing individuals are known as "opinion
leaders." Frequently, the critic of mass campaigns will be concerned
with the question -- Did the persuader frame his discourses adequately
considering the factor of the intermediate "opinion leaders" on the
mass media audience?
3Berlo, pp. 25-35.
Generally in mass campaigns the first step is to win over an
audience, such as, community guardians (perhaps labor or business
leaders, or politicians) so that in turn they will function as
"opinion leaders" to their ~geral publtics (members). Mass media
messages in that case probably should be geared to these leaders more
than to the general public. Draft protests, on the other hand, are
geared to winning members of the general public as opinionn leaders"
so the public will pressure the community guardians for change.
If a persuasive message is conveyed through several media it
is likely to become altered or distorted in the process. The altera-
tion could work either to the rhetor's advantage or disadvantage. For
instance, Richard Rovere in his biography of Senator Joseph McCarthy
explains how McCarthy retained a suitable ethos with the general public.
McCarthy seemed rational to the public because the synopses of his
speeches reported in newspapers appeared more coherent in structure and
less irrational in content than his original messages.
On the other hand, several speech critics conclude that the excerpts
quoted from Stokely Carmichael's speeches have made him appear to be a
fanatic; whereas, he does not convey that impression to those who have
heard the complete addresses.35
4Richard Rovere, Senator JoejE iCaj_ (New York: World Publishing
Co., 1959), pp. 136-38.
35Pat Jefferson, "The Magnificient Barbarian at Nashville,"
Southern Speech Journal, XXXIII (Iinter, 1967), 77-87; El izabeth
Flory Phifer, "Carmichael in Tallahassee," S' Jtern__Speach Journal,
XXXIII (Winter, 1967), 88-90.
In addition to looking for possible alterations in persuasive
messages because of conveyance through more than one media, the critic
should try to ascertain whether or not the rhetor consciously provided
for or utilized such changes.
For instance, Samuel Adams, the great agitator of the American
revolution, had his addresses for state occasions published as pamphlets.
Knowing they would reach the greatest number of people in this form,
he molded the discourses to the printed rather than the spoken medium.
In addition Adams wrote a number of speeches for others and was vague
about the authorship of some of his printed messages. The apparent
reason for these actions was that greater persuasive impact would be
achieved by making it appear that the same message was being promoted
by a number of different people.
It is hoped that the discussion of motivational concepts adapted
to mass campaigns, and conveyed to multiple audiences through multiple
communication channels will be helpful. Several additional features
of mass campaigns should be considered by the critic who is going to
deal with this form of persuasive event. These features do not relate
directly to the subject of this chapter, the conditioning process.
Haoever, if the critic does not understand these features, he is likely
to frame inappropriate criteria in assessing both the overall goals of
the campaign and in assessing the motivational concepts and lines of
conditioning used to achieve these goals.
6Valerie Schneider, "Samuel Adams: One Who Made a Revolution,"
(unpublished seminar paper, June, 1967), pp. 3-9.
The critic should take into account the fact that rhetorical
campaigns which are part of a mass movement pass through several stages,
generally three in number. The first stage normally is concerned with
getting attention for the issue being disputed and recruiting members
to the cause. During the first stage, the protest generated is quite
radical as are most of the people who join the movement. Later more
moderate people are recruited, and they gradually succeed in taking
over leadership. In the third stage the movement frequently is trans-
formed into an institutionalized group headed by capable administrators.37
If the critic realizes the nature and cumulative effect of these
movement stages, he can better gauge within each stage whether or not
the best available means of persuasion were used. lie can also judge
whether or not the soundest persuasive goals were sought.
It would also be helpful for the critic to realize that a mass
campaign has two predominant Functions -- strengthening membership
(group maintenance) and specific task accomplishment. For instance, the
task might concern getting a referendum questioning United States
involvement in Vietnam on the ballot. Or the task might be persuading
citizens, political representatives, and civic leaders to use their
influence to get an open housing law passed. The critic would want
to judge whether or not the amount of rhetoric devoted to each of these
functions (membership and task accomplishment) was proportional to how
much each should have been stressed under the given circumstances.
37Eric Hoffer, TeTlru JL.JI ievo (New York: Nov American Library,
1951), pp. 119-25; Richard HoFstadter, Ie~_AasIQr fo o (New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1955), pp. 148-73; Christopher Lasch, The Nl.
Radicaltism in America (Ncw York: Borzpi Books, 1965), pp. 38-39.
Before this chapter is concluded a postscript regarding motivational
concepts should be added. There has been no attempt to list specific
motivational concepts and rank them hierarchically according to their
persuasive efficacy, although this is the approach taken in many
theoretical works on persuasion. The discussion of associational
conditioning and related factors of learning psychology as well as
observations on the role of perception in persuasive endeavors gives a
general map of persuasive motivation. The viewpoint permeating this
study is that the theorist need not, indeed cannot go further than such
a general map. In a given situation the nature of the audience and the
rhetorical proposition determine what possible motivational concepts
can be used and the relative efficacy of each possible one. It is the
job of the persuader or critic after thorough audience analysis to
determine what specific motivational appeals are best. lHoIever, a
few general judgments regarding types of motivational concepts have been
made. It was explained that restatements of the rhetorical proposition
and formal definitions of terms of the proposition are weak proofs (They
really are only clarifying devices.) which cannot carry the main burden
of argument in a speech. In Chapter V transcendent principles will
be discussed; motivational concepts derived from the transcendent
principle of the group being addressed are generally the strongest ones
Motivational concepts based on physical force as well as those
based on non-physical coercive appeal generally do not lead to persuasion
as conceived in this study. Persuasion is presented here as a learning
of new attitudes and new actions (derived from the attitudes) toward a
given proposition. Force or coercive appeals often lead in a given
instance to outward compliance to the action called For in the proposi-
tion. The response of those forced to canply represents conditioning
to the applied force or to the threat; it is not a conditioning toward
the proposition itself. The test of whether true persuasion has taken
place is this: If the receiver will continue over a period of time
without reinforcement or interference from anyone the area of
behavior called for in the proposition in a variety of applicable
situations, he has truly been persuaded.
If an individual conforms to the desired action of the persuader
because a gun is being held over him, his response represents conditioning
to the motivational concept, preservation of life. The latter concept
is not in turn conditioned to the proposition as it would be in an
instance of true persuasion. For instance, if Vietnamese villagers in
the pacification program are forced at gun point to aid the South
Vietnamese war effort and to accept ideological statements favorable
to the regime of Thieu and Khe, their response indicates conditioning
to the stimuli of self-preservation. They are not also being condi-
tioned to really believe in the actions they must perform or in the
statements they must agree with. It is unlikely that most of the
villagers will continue these actions after American troops leave. In
the case just cited the motivational concept is connected with getting
the desired action,but it is not in turn connected with the proposition.
The conditions for a suitable motivational concept are not only that
it possess the desired action-orientation, and be previously accepted
by the audience, but also that it be capable of a logical, intrinsic
connection with the proposition. This third component is what generally
is missing in the use of coercive motivational appeals. In effect,
conditioning with coercive appeals leads to this label ing of the
situation -- "In this instance perform the desired action or else."
In a true example of persuasion the labeling would be -- "Perform the
desired action ncw and henceforth because the action makes sense."
A hypothetical situation involving non-physical coercion is
discussed to clarify further the distinction between compliance and
persuasion. A group of young people who have attitudes neutral or
favorable regarding the use of marijuana are presented by society,with
the proposition, "Do not use marijuana." The main motivational concept
supporting this proposition is a law threatening severe penalties to
anyone convicted of using marijuana. Most individuals in this group
will comply with the lan because they are conditioned to motivational
concepts such as concern for social approval, fear of jail sentences,
or of paying heavy fines, or even reverence for law. But these
individuals are not being conditioned to an acceptance of the proposition
itself. They would be persuaded in regard to the proposition itself
only if a connecting link is made explaining reasons why use of marijuana
is bad for the individual who experiments with it. Therefore, it is
likely that many would try marijuana if the law is removed; if they
feel they can break the lay without detection, or if they become
members of a different society where there are no penalties against
marijuana consumption. Better motivational concepts to attach to the
proposition would be demonstrated connections between marijuana usage
and the irritation of various physical and/or mental disorders; or proof
that reckless actions are performed by those under the influence of
marijuana. If these motivational concepts are used, it is likely many
in the group would be persuaded to avoid the use of marijuana for the
rest of their lives whether or not there were laws against its usage.
One should not conclude, however, that all negative conditioning
patterns or all motivational concepts based on fear would lead to
capliance rather than persuasion. For instance, an individual may
disapprove of racial intermarriage; miscegenation functions for him
as a motivational concept producing reactions of avoidance, fear, and
disgust. Probably he has either reasoned for himself or has learned
as of result of communications from others to associate his fear of
miscegenation with school integration and integration in housing and
public acccmodations, believing integration in these areas would
increase the number of racial intermarriages. There seems to him
to be a plausible connection between integration in these areas and
the motivational concept which conditions him to fear-avoidance
responses. Hence, without further influence or reinforcement, he will
react in the predictable manner of opposing integration in a variety
of situations. He has been truly persuaded to believe in the proposi-
tion, "Avoid integration."
The distinction between compliance and persuasion has been made
because generally a communicator needs to modify his receivers'
behavior over a period of time, and compliance will not achieve this
aim. There are, haoever, some situations in which immediate canpliance
is all that is necessary. In that case the critic should point out
that true persuasion was not achieved, but also that it was not
necessary; the communication was a success from the standpoint and
need of the communicator, although the ethics of the coercive appeal
would probably receive a Iow rating. An example is a senator who needs
to garner one more vote to have his vies on a proposed bill prevail.
He may coerce another senator into providing the needed vote by
threatening non-support on another voting issue. The other senator
complies with the desired action. But the coerced senator is not
persuaded to approve of the essence of the bill he is voting for and
lacking further influence would fail to support bills of a similar
nature. Yet in this instance the other senator has received all he
desired or needed to achieve.
The chief concern of this chapter has been the associational
conditioning process. The proper selection of motivational concepts
does much to determine whether or not the attempted conditioning will
lead to persuasion. The three conditions for proper selection are
these: (1) the motivational concepts) should be already strongly
accepted by the audience, (2) the concepts) should orient the receivers
toward the action-orientation the rhetor desires transferred to the
proposition, and (3) the concepts) should lend themselves to the
making of logical, intrinsic connections with the proposition. If
all three of these selection factors are properly utilized, if the
concepts) are strongly connected with the proposition, and if
miscellaneous perceptual factors are provided For, it is highly likely
that persuasion in the desired direction will take place. When all
these conditions are met except the third because the motivational
concepts) are coercive in nature, conditioning resulting in forced
compliance is likely to occur. The desired action will be performed in
the immediate situation but will not be learned as a new behavioral
response to be carried out in similar situations in the future. If the
motivational concepts) are not strongly accepted by the audience,
normally no type of conditioning will occur. If the motivational
concepts) orient the receivers toward an action not similar to that
called For in the proposition,the audience is likely to be persuasively
conditioned to an action the rhetor had not desired. A proper under-
standing of these conditions should make it clear in a given situation
whether or not true persuasion is likely to be effected.
THE MANIPULATION OF 'SIGNIFICANT SYMBOLS' TO CONVEY AND
SHAPE MOTIVATIONAL CONCEPTS
Chapters II and III provided an overall explication of the new
theory of persuasion from which ne, critical standards are to be
derived. Motivational concepts to be conditioned to the rhetorical
proposition are the most important single component of this persuasion
theory. It is necessary to explore selected Functioning aspects of
these motivational concepts further in Chapters IV and V. Chapter IV
stresses the role of effective symbol manipulation to convey as
motivational concepts the exact ideas needed to condition receivers
toward the action-orientation called for in the rhetorical proposition.
Chapter V deals with a special category of motivational concept --
entities which aid in building or refuting social 'Yystification."
Since social 'mystification" is involved in any case of class or
rank conflict this is an extremely important and complicated category
of motivational concept.
Several of the more significant overall strategies for effective
symbol manipulation to induce in receivers the desired action will be
the main subject of this chapter. These strategics are elucidated
through two speech examples, but first the types of symbols to be
considered are defined, and the role of these symbols in perception
and cognition is explored.
Duncan and Burke use the term, "significant symbols," to describe
the signs which make communication possible and which convey and shape
persuasive messages. According to these symbolic interactionists,
"significant symbols" are words whose meanings are shared by members
of a given social group. For instance, the English vocabulary is the
source of "significant symbols" for American society or subsets of it.
The author contends that for the purpose of rhetorical criticism,
discussion of "significant symbols" might be focused more narrowly.
Rhetorical messages are concerned most frequently with political, social,
or legal issues. Rhetors disputing within one of these areas generally
base their strategy on an attack or defense of components which
determine a given social structure. These components are characteristics
of a total society or of institutions within it, and they stand out
most sharply in the midst of rhetorical debates over concrete issues.
Richard Hofstadter, prominent American historian, interprets the
Scopes Trial as a crucial debate over whether or not American society
would be dominated by the rural setting, traditionally-based values
and ways of doing, or if it would be dominated by the urban setting,
scientific inquiry, and a general spirit of secularism.2 Words
designating components such as those just discussed are the "significant
Hugh Dalziel Duncan, CommenLcationanld_th S__ ial_ rder (Ned York:
Bedminster Press, 1962), pp. 92-96. In rhetorical efforts as well as
in other types of communication it is the patterning together of a
combination of "significant symbols" which is important, but the term
needs to be defined in terms of the single entity.
2Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intel1jecalim in American Life (New
York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1963), pp. 125-30.
symbols" manipulated to maintain or change a social structure. Additional
symbols which function in affecting the social order are words which de-
signate the character, role,and privileges (or lack of them) imputed
to social groups.
For instance, in the controversy which ensued over the recalling
of General Douglas MacArthur by President Harry S. Truman in 1951some argued
that "civilian control" of military affairs was a necessary part of the
checks and balances system of government; no special interests or
biased viewpoints could distort military and foreign policy. The'
pro-MacArthur forces countered that "civilian control" was in actuality a
"muzzling of the mil itary," a refusal to consider the viewpoint of
those with the training and first-hand observation making them the most
qualified to decide military policy.3
Various studies in social stratification indicate that these.
institutional-societal components and the character, role, and
privileges of social groups are the basis of a society's structure,
hence, they are the factors which affect both upward and doarnvard
Although Duncan uses the term "significant symbols" exclusively
in reference to words, the concept can justifiably be extended to non-
verbal symbols. For instance, human beings can comprise a "significant
symbol." Racial integration places Negroes in social scenes where
john Gerber, Douglas Ehninger, and Carroll Arnold, The Speaker'sL Reur
Bok (Chicago: Scott,Foresman, 1966), pp. 150-55.
Reinhard Bendix and Seymour Martin Lipsett, eds., ass Statuis
and _Pf.e (New York: The Free Press, 1966), pp. 111-81.
previously they had not been welcome. As their organized presence in
these scenes becomes more frequent and publicized, civil rights
leaders hope that white people will be persuaded that it is appropriate
for Negroes to be there.
One may find it difficult to see hew "significant symbols" are
used to maintain or change the social order, if one thinks of words as
merely vehicles to convey thought and experience. Duncan, Burke,
other symbolic interactionists, and the general semanticists stress
that one should be more aware of hoe symbols affect one's view of
reality and one's behavior. The general characterization of these
effects which follows is also supported by leading theorists of
public opinion and mass communications. The characterization is
corroborated further by the general psychiatric vier of human communi-
It is difficult for one to know reality fully and directly. On
the basis of reports by others, the individual develops conceptions of
phases of reality he has not experienced directly. These reports are
conveyed through symbols which stand in an analogical relationship to
the objects described, so the report conveys only a part of the
original objects. Nevertheless, these symbolic characterizations of
5David Berlo, Ji Process of Communication (New York: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston, 1960), pp. 288-300; Stuart Chase, The Tyranny
of Words (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1938), pp. 30-49; Wendell
Johnson, People in Quandaries (New York: Harper Brothers, 1946), pp.
112-72; Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion (New York: Harcourt, Brace and
Co., 1922), pp. 20-55; Jurgen Ruesch, DisLtredBComun icat ion (New York:
Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1960), pp. 22-23;Carl R. Rogers, On
Becoming a Person: A TherapisLl's Vi/i of Psychotherapy (Boston: Houghton
Mifflin, 1961), pp. 125-55.
The concept of words in analogical relationship might become
clearer if one considers word meaning defined as "delegated efficacy"
given objects become for individuals their total understanding of these
objects. One also converts his first-hand experiences into symbols
before storing them in his memory; later one often acts in terms of
his symbolic recordings rather than in terms of the first-hand reality.
Thus, symbols do significantly influence one's thinking as well as
one's actions and one's characterizations of these matters, whether or
not the symbols arc an accurate mirror of reality. In fact, the
preceding discussion illustrates that symbols shape perception, thought,
and resulting action rather than merely conveying what is perceived
and thought about. McLuhan states that the medium conveying a message
shapes it so influentially that one could say the medium is the message.
One could observe specifically that themedium of words to a great extent
becomes the message rather than the mere conveyer of a message outside
the words. The truth of this assertation can be seen through
by I. A. Richards, Iheb Ebilosphy ofRhetoi- (Ney York: Oxford Univ-
ersity Press, 1965), pp. 32 and 34.
. meaning is delegated efficacy, that description
applies above all to the meaning of words, whose
virtue is to be substitutes exerting the pcers of
what is not there. They do this as other signs do
it, though in a more complex fashion through their
contexts. !n these contexts one item -- typically
a word -- takes over the duties of parts which can
then be omitted frcm the recurrence. When this
abridgement happens what the sign or word -- the
item with these delegated powers -- means is the
missing part of the context.
john H. Sloan, "Understanding McLuhan," pe.ch Teacher,
XVIII (March, 1968), 143.
consideration of the shades of meaning of various synonyms as they
orient the receiver to distinctly different actions.
For instance, a clerk wishes to express to a customer the idea
that a certain dress is not expensive. One might consider several
roughly equivalent words that can be used to express three similar
ideas. Each word conveys a different connotation; so whichever is
chosen will result in a different reaction from the customer. If the
clerk says, "The dress is inexpensive," the customer will be somewhat
favorably oriented toward it (provided that reasonable expenditure is
a concern of the customer). If the clerk says, "The dress is a
bargain," the economy-minded individual would be even more positively
oriented toward it. However, if the clerk said, "The dress is cheap,"
this would connote low quality and would negatively orient the customer.
Truly the form of the medium, in this case, words, is as well as
onve ys the message.
The example of the dress sale is a trivial one, but it illustrates
the use of symbols with the most suitable connotation to move receivers
toward the desired area of action. On a grander scale, legislators,
social reformers, and moralists carefully phrase their proposals with
word connotations which aid in building motivational concepts highly
acceptable within the group composing the audience. This is why an
American war is euphemistically termed "a great crusade," or an
attempt "to make the world safe for democracy." The words designating
social, professional, and ethnic groups have a number of positive and
negative connotations associated with them. A rhetor seeking more
rights or powers for a given group would try to emphasize the positive
connotations and minimize or refute the negative ones imputed to the
group. A persuader attacking the rights or powers of a group would use
the reverse process. Within one speech a persuader may simultaneously
tear do.on an opposing group and build up his own.
This discussion is not meant to imply that only symbol manipulations
are used to build up or tear down social groups, or to build other
types of motivational concepts. It is a major contention of this
chapter that the specific phrasing of an argument contributes signifi-
cantly to the perceived meaning of that argument. The symbol manipula-
tions in adequately developed messages, however, are supplemented with
argument-content. The argument-content would be object-evidence
which, though partly shaped by the symbols conveying it, could be
cross-checked against real objects in the environment. (Ingersoll's
address discussed later in this chapter is an example of failure to
develop the object-evidence aspect.) The argument-content as well
as its phrasing would be used in building "nystifications" to support
groups already in power or in attacking mystificationss" to win privil-
eges for the less favored groups. These uses of "mystification" are
explored in Chapter V.
An address by Frederick Douglass is analyzed in detail in
Chapter V. Douglass used a double-edged approach. He refuted
negative connotations attached to the term Negro, such as the associa-
tion that Negroes are not men, as other individuals are men. The
desired result was that Douglass' receivers would regard the Negro on
a more humanitarian level in the future. Simultaneously, Douglass
attached to the names of groups opposing Negro freedom such negative
connotations as, "disloyal to the Declaration of Independence," "non-
humanitarian," and "false to Christianity." Douglass hoped that as
a result of this negative associational conditioning his audience
would cease supporting pro-slavery individuals and groups.
Roosevelt also used a double-edged approach in his First Inaugural.
Roosevelt used several strategies of symbol manipulation to accomplish
three subordinate purposes to support his proposition: "Accept my new
economic recovery program." These symbol strategies will be analyzed
in detail. The three subordinate purposes will also be analyzed and
evaluated. This attention to purpose will serve two major functions.
It will enable a more structured and fully-detailed ass-essment; it will
also permit an illustration of the ethical dimension of criticism
facilitated by this new critical theory.
Black suggests that the rhetorical critic evaluate the message
to be appraised in terms of all conscious purposes which can be inferred
from evidence in or related to the discourse. Black also recommends
that the critic evaluate both the pragmatic and ethical soundness of
the speaker's purposes in regard to the situation to which the message
is a response. In other words, one should judge the purposes in terms
of what would seem to be their immediate effects on the situation. One
should also assess hao well the long-range needs of society would be met
by the purposes the rhetor chose to stress, and how society might be
affected in the long-run by the tactics used by the rhetor. For instance
did the rhetor fail to serve a purpose pertinent to the rhetorical issue
Edwin Black, Bh etoriscal L.__ric.ism (New York: Macmillan Co., 1965),
and vital to the social well being? Would any interpretations made by
the rhetor be likely to cause his receivers to make inappropriate or
unrealistic responses in similar future occasions? (An example of the
latter would be a faulty causal analysis of the problem which might
lead receivers to fail to solve a similar problem in the future.)
In the early 1930's America as well as most of the world had
sunk into a terrible economic depression. The function of the inaugural
was to win acceptance from the majority of the American people for
proposed government regulations and programs to aid national economic
recovery. This program included provisions to boost agricultural price
supports and end farm mortgage foreclosures. Excessive stock specula-
tion and other questionable business practices would be regulated.
An extensive public works program was proposed as a major tactic to
counter massive unemployment. Also there would be a brief bank
holiday during which a variety of banking practices as well as the
general soundness of the currency would be scrutinized.9
This proposed program would assign to government powers which it
had never had before. Some of these proposals were regarded by the
more conservative-minded as contrary to the "rugged individualism"
Americans believed in. These proposals also seemed contrary to the
Jeffersonian idea that the best government is tiht which governs
least.10 Consequently, Roosevelt had to accomplish three subordinate
9Davis Newton Lott, ed., Th 2_e sPrsi deSpu a.k (New York: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston, 1965), p. 232.
1Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., "The Rise of Federal Relief," in The
Thirties: A Time to Reme mbr, ed. by Don Congdon (New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1962), pp. 152-53.