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Gaining compliance_Gass&SeiterCh11

Gaining compliance_Gass&SeiterCh11 - 11 COMPLIANCE...

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11 COMPLIANCE GAINING Do you remember Felix, the cartoon cat with the bag of tricks, a veritable warehouse of gizmos and gadgets? It seems that whenever he had that polka- dotted bag, Felix could get himself out of any jam. The funny thing is, sometimes our students remind us of that cat. Take any exam week, for example. Some of the stories we hear are astounding. The only thing is, our students don’t need a bag of tricks; they do a fine job of coming up with reasons for missing tests on their own. A popular favorite is a sick or dying grandparent. We don’t want to sound unsympathetic here, but if our students are to be believed, mortality and morbidity among grandparents runs extraordinarily high during midterms and finals. We’ve heard of other tactics as well. One colleague, for instance, told us that a student was serious about missing a test merely because “it was her birthday.” Another student tried to avoid an exam because he thought his house might be robbed if he came to school. One of our students explained that she could not take a test because she had been subpoenaed to testify against her boss in court, while another was reluctant to take exams because of a foreboding horoscope. Who knows what we might hear next term? Whatever reasons our students might muster, one point is clear: when faced with a situation requiring persua sion, people can come up with any number of strategies or tactics. But what types of strategies are available to people who are seeking compliance? What specific kinds of strategies are
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people most likely to use? Do the strategies that people use vary across situations? Do different types of people use different types of strategies? What methods are used to study strategy selection? All of these issues have been explored by researchers who are interested in a very broad topic area that is often labeled compliance gaining and that is considered by many to be one of the most important subjects in the study of interpersonal influence. Indeed, in 1995 Boster argued that “in the last 15 years, the study of compliance gaining message behavior has held the attention of communication scholars as much as, if not more than, any other single topic in the discipline” (p. 91). More recently, Wilson (1998) noted that scholarly interest in compliance gaining “is very much alive” (p. 273). Because of the significance and prominence of compliance gaining in our field, we devote this chapter to an examination of compliance gaining issues and research. Before proceeding, though, a few definitions are in order. Actions Speak the Loudest: A Definition of Compliance Gaining We used to know a guy who liked to say, “I don’t care if you hate me, as long as you’re nice to me.” We think that this maxim is a fine illustration of the distinction between thoughts and actions that undergirds the primary difference between compliance and other forms of persua sion. As we mentioned in Chapter 2, it is useful to distinguish between
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