Centre for Research in Communication and Culture


21 February 2018

Persuasive Conduct

Presented By Bogdana Huma, Liz Stokoe and Rein Sikveland
  • 1-2.30pm (a DARG event)
  • B1.14 Brockington Building

About this event

‘Persuasion has been in the research limelight of social psychology for decades. However, much of that research was geared towards discovering how a person’s mind can be changed rather than how persuasive conduct, as an interactional phenomenon, unfolds in and through talk-in-interaction. Thus, the practices and resources through which persuasion is accomplished have not yet been documented. Consequently, practical matters associated with influencing others such as the management of agency, entitlement, morality, stake and interest, and resistance have not been addressed. We still don’t know how persuasion is ‘done’ in interaction, what participants orient to when attempting to persuade others, and what successful and unsuccessful persuasive episodes look like. 


For this DARG session, we have selected three extracts which, we propose, illustrate persuasive conduct. The data come from a corpus of business-to-business ‘cold’ calls between salespeople and prospective customers. ‘Cold’ calls are a suitable setting to look for persuasion, as they are a kind of ‘natural laboratory’ in which social influence and resistance occur spontaneously. In the selected extracts, salespeople attempt to get appointments with prospective customers. 


Some of the questions we bring to bear on the data are: 

- Identifying persuasion is not an easy feat as it might be designedly ambiguous or defeasible. How do we ‘locate’ persuasive conduct in the interactional stream? What sort of evidence can we use to support our claims? 

- On what basis can we distinguish between persuasion and other forms of social influence? 

- What are the interactional practices and resources that comprise persuasive conduct? 

- At the moment, our data come from a single setting: cold calls between salespeople and prospective customers. Are the practices and resources that participants draw on setting specific? What would this mean, in turn, for the organisation of persuasive conduct? 

- When a salesperson has failed to get the appointment, can we still treat her/his conduct as persuasive?