|Title||Persuasion in Context: Understanding the Impact of Communication Modality, Gender, Ethnicity, Cognitive, and Linguistic Style Volume One Claire L.|
Information is increasingly being exchanged on a global stage, and so audiences are becoming more diverse through communication in varying digital modalities. Understanding persuasion is increasingly important, particularly in response to technological change regarding the way in which we communicate and increased usage in our daily lives. However, persuasion has yet to be fully explored in relation to gender, ethnicity, cognitive and linguistic style and their influence on decision-making in interactive, synthetic modalities. This thesis sought to address this gap by employing an interpersonal modernised persuasion paradigm across three distinct contexts. Accordingly, three experimental studies are presented: Study 1 is conducted face-to-face (FtF), Study 2 utilises anonymous instant messaging software, and Study 3 introduces a novel, immersive, and collaborative virtual reality environment, which enables communication to occur in real-time via embodiment of avatars. The aims of the thesis were to a), investigate the effect of communication modalities on persuasion outcomes, b) to explore whether cognitive biases mediate persuasion outcomes, c) whether gender and ethnicity influence dyadic persuasive interactions, and d), to understand the impact, or otherwise, of linguistic style - comprising of quantitative analysis including linguistic synchronicity and epistemic modality, on persuasion outcomes. The combined results highlighted how the virtual environment was akin to the FtF modality, showing a propensity for successful persuasive outcomes and increased metacognitive confidence in attitude change. This has ramifications for real-world effects when researchers utilise virtual technology to observe, measure and train real-world performances. The anonymous instant messaging platform led to enhanced resistance across gender and ethnic groups, with males being significantly more likely to oppose the persuasive arguments as a result. Overall however, ethnicity and gender did not influence persuasion outcomes, nor did cognitive style mediate or predict an individual’s disposition to persuasion. Finally, linguistic style highlighted differences across participants, with persuaded individuals using more cognitive processing and informal language during exchanges. Expanding our understanding of how judgements are formed, influenced and modified can serve to widen discussion, and support applied understandings regarding the management of conversations both on- and offline. All findings are presented and discussed in relation to the relevant theoretical literature throughout this body of work.