When one dives into the concept of persuasion, they often think of an alluring message. However, to successfully draw a person to a concept, having a crowd to carry the message may be vital. We view commercials daily that attempt to sway us toward a certain product or service even if we don’t necessarily need what the company is offering. A young child may visit a candy store and reach for a flavor of candy they’ve never tried. The child doesn’t essentially need the candy or know if the product will be pleasing to them, but if various ads associating the candy with happy children cloud this child’s view, they become perceptible to the message.
According to Wilford Trotter, “The human being is more sensitive to the voice of the herd than to any other influence. It can inhibit or stimulate his thought and conduct. It is the source if his moral codes, of the sanctions of his ethics and philosophy. It can endow him with energy, courage, and endurance, and can as easily take these away” (Ewen, Stuart. PR: A Social History of Spin. 1996). Public relations in the early 1900’s focused on inputting a certain message into the minds of the majority so that the message could be disseminated to the rest of the public as fact with minimal drawback.
Gustave Le Bon said, “Crowds have always undergone the influence of illusions. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim” (Ewen, Stuart. PR: A Social History of Spin. 1996). Le Bon tells readers that the more imaginative a message is, the more it will draw the masses.
However, is the concept of persuasion by a crowd dependent on how persuasive the crowd’s message is or how perceptible an individual is to coercion? In today’s society, the method of crowd persuasion can still be seen through peer pressure. Brett Laursen, PhD, a fellow of the American Psychological Association and professor of psychology at Florida Atlantic University stated, “There are some children who are susceptible to influence from anyone – that is to say that whatever comes down the pike they're likely to follow. But, it's also the case that some people are more influential and so, if you hang around with people who tend to be particularly influential, you will look susceptible even though you're not particularly susceptible. It just happens to be that you're hanging around with others who are highly influential” (Laursen, Brett. Speaking of Psychology: The good and bad of peer pressure. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/research/action/speaking-of-psychology/peer-pressure.aspx).
The most fascinating aspect about persuasion is that the success of a convincing message is dependent on how susceptible a person is to the ideals of the message based upon their background and beliefs. The message can then be carried to the masses. Hypotheses and perceptions become fact when an influencer can convince enough people to follow their way of thinking.