PSYC 420/520

Course: Attitudes, Persuasion and Social Influence (Spring 2021)
Instructor: Associate Professor Lemi Baruh, Department of Media and Visual Arts
Office: SOS 226
Phone: (212) 338 1133
Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday 11:30-12:30 or by appointment
Class Location: ZOOM Sessions
Class Times: Tuesday & Thursday 10:00 – 11:15
Crosslisted with: MAVA 420


The purpose of this course is to provide students with an in-depth understanding of issues related to persuasive effects of communications. First, the course will focus on major models related to decision making, attitudes and consumer behavior. Then, using applied examples and relevant theory, the course will investigate the role that content characteristics such as argument quality, sidedness, evidence, narratives, and may play in construction of persuasive communications. We will also explore source characteristics as factors that may have an impact on persuasion. Throughout the course we will see applied examples from marketing, health and political communication and discuss implications for communication campaigns.


By the end of the semester, students should have

  • have proficiency in theoretical models related to attitude formation, change and persuasion
  • a well developed understanding of the application of the models in marketing, political and health communication contexts
  • critically evaluate how different message, sender and receiver characteristics may influence the persuasive impact of a message
  • plan and execute the basic elements of a communication campaign

Readings: The required readings for the course will be distributed via Blackboard. You should come to class having read the assigned readings.

Quizzes (Undergraduate): Quizzes will be on assigned readings of the week. There will be 5 quizzes and the best 4 quizzes will count towards your grade. Dates of the quizzes are indicated on the weekly schedule.

Group Project (Undergraduate): In the group project (teams of 3 or 4), you will be expected to develop an intervention and/or communication campaign for an issue/behavior that you would like to address/change at Koç University (e.g., increase ride sharing, social distancing, gender equality). You will have to develop a detailed plan for the communication strategy and media mix. To do so, you will need to engage in an analysis of the potential target population (Who are they? Why do they do what they do? Why would they be open to change? Why would they resist change? etc.) This would require that you collect primary data about your target population (e.g., surveys, focus groups, participant observation, interviews). Once you are done with the strategic component. You will need to produce the communication materials. This would potentially include branding (logo etc.), print advertisements, online/social media presence, viral campaigns, apps, infographics, games, videos. 

For this project you are strongly advised to form teams that cross-departmental borders. For example, a team that has students from MAVA, PSYC, and Business Administration would have skills that would complement each other in terms of research, strategy and creative production. 

Deliverables for the group project: 

  • Data report and presentation
  • Group Project Final Presentation and report: A maximum 12-minute presentation to be delivered during the final exams period.

Grading (for Undergraduate): The class will be graded as follows: 

40% – Quizzes
15% – Group Project Data Collection Preparation & Data Report
40% – Group Project Presentation (50% of the grade will come from peer evaluations, groups with, group with the highest score will get 5 point bonus)
05% – Team Peer Evaluations (each member will evaluate the rest of the team members for their performance in the group project)

Grading (for Graduate): The class will be graded as follows: 

20% – Leading Class Discussions in a Selected Topic 
15% – Initial Project Proposal
25% – Annotated Summary
40% – Final Paper (Research Proposal, Guidelines to be Distributed in Class)

Grading Scale: The letter grade for the class will be based on the grading scale below. 

90+          A70+          C
87+          A-67+          C-
83+          B+64+          D+
80+          B60+          D
77+          B-0-59         F
73+          C+

Please keep in mind that online classrooms are still classrooms. While engaging in communication with your peers and/or your instructor, please: 

  • Do not dominate any discussion. 
  • Do not insult or name call. 
  • Do not defame anybody. 
  • Do not make fun of someone. 
  • Do not use offensive, racist, sexist, or otherwise discriminatory language 
  • Use correct spelling and grammar. 
  • Verify facts before you share any information. 
  • Review and edit your post before clicking the “Send” button. 
  • Always be respectful of others’ opinions even when they differ from your own. 
  • When you disagree with someone, express your disagreement in a respectful way. 
  • Express your opinion, even if you think your opinion is the minority opinion. 
  • Do not assume that people will be able to guess what you have in mind. 
  • Respect other people’s privacy. 
  • Do not hesitate to ask for feedback. 
  • When in doubt, always check with your instructor for clarification. 
  • Always give proper credit to the sources you are using. 

Cheating, plagiarism or collusion in assignments, exams or papers are serious offences that will result in a failing grade and more severe disciplinary action. There are no exceptions to this rule. Academic dishonesty includes cheating, plagiarism, multiple submissions, and collusion, the definitions of which are stated below:

  • Cheating includes, but is not limited to, copying from a classmate or providing answers or information, either written or oral to others, in an examination or in the preparation of material subject to academic evaluation.
  • Plagiarism is borrowing or using someone else’s writing or ideas without giving written acknowledgement to the author. This includes copying from a fellow student’s paper or from a text or internet site without properly citing the source. 
  • Multiple submission includes resubmission of the same work previously used in another course or project, without the permission of the instructor for both courses.
  • Collusion is getting unauthorized help from another person such as having someone else write one’s assignment, or having someone else take an exam with false identification. Impersonating a student in an examination is also considered a grave act of dishonesty.
  • Fabrication includes, but is not limited to, falsification or invention of any information or citation in an academic exercise.
  • Facilitating academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, knowingly helping another student commit an act of academic misconduct (e.g., cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, multiple submissions).

Please note that the schedule is subject to change depending on the needs of the instructor or the needs of students. So, please follow Blackboard updates regarding changes in schedule. 


February 16, 2021: Introduction to the course, overview of syllabus

February 16, 2021: History of Consumer Psychology and Persuasion


February 23, 2021: History of Consumer Psychology and Persuasion

February 23, 2021: A Primer on (Consumer) Decision Making

  • Andrews, J. C., Durvasula, S., & Akhter, S. H. (1990). A Framework for Conceptualizing and Measuring the Involvement Construct in Advertising Research. Journal of Advertising, 19(4), 27–40. 
  • Warrington, P., & Shim, S. (2000). An Empirical Investigation of the Relationship between Product Involvement and Brand Commitment. Psychology & Marketing, 17(9), 761–782. 

March 02, 2021: A Primer on (Consumer) Decision Making

March 04, 2021: A Primer on (Consumer) Decision Making

  • Bruns, H., Kantorowicz-Reznichenko, E., Klement, K., Luistro Jonsson, M., & Rahali, B. (2018). Can nudges be transparent and yet effective? Journal of Economic Psychology, 65(February), 41–59.

March 09, 2021: Attitudes, Beliefs, Behavior

  • Quiz #1: Quiz on Decision making
  • Ajzen, I. (2008). Consumer attitudes and behavior. In C. P. Haugtvedt, P. M. Herr & F. R. Cardes (Eds.), Handbook of consumer psychology (pp. 525- 548). New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Gwinn, R., & Krajbich, I. (2020). Attitudes and attention. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 86.
  • Young, W., Hwang, K., McDonald, S., & Oates, C. J. (2010). Sustainable consumption: green consumer behaviour when purchasing products. Sustainable Development, 18, 20–31. 

March 11, 2021: Attitudes, Beliefs, Behavior

  • Activity: Group project ideas, Q&A

March 16, 2021: Attitudes, Beliefs, Behavior

  • Bradburn, N. M., Sudman, S., & Wansink, B. (2004). Asking questions: The definitive guide to questionnaire design . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (Required: Ch2 & Ch4) (Optional: Ch3)

March 18, 2021: Attitudes, Beliefs, Behavior

  • Stone, J., & Fernandez, N. C. (2008). How behavior shapes attitudes: Cognitive dissonance processes. In W. D. Crano & R. Prislin (eds.) Attitudes and attitude change (pp. 313-336). Boca Raton: CRC Press.

March 23, 2021: Message Characteristics

  • Quiz #2: Attitudes, Beliefs, Behavior
  • Stiff J. B. & Mongeau P. A. (2003). Persuasive communication. New York: The Guilford Press. (Ch 6)

March 25, 2021: Message Characteristics

  • Activity: Go over questions about data collection instruments (groups should be prepared to share their instruments with class to receive feedback).  

March 30, 2021: Message Characteristics

  • Stiff J. B. & Mongeau P. A. (2003). Persuasive communication. New York: The Guilford Press. (Ch 7)

April 01, 2021: Message Characteristics


April 13, 2021: Message Characteristics

April 15, 2021: Cognitive Models of Persuasion

  • Quiz #3: Message Characteristics
  • Bohner, G., Erb, H-P., Siebler, F. (2008). Information Processing Approaches to Persuasion: Integrating Assumptions from the Dual-and-Single Processing Perspectives. In W.D. Crano & R. Prislin (eds.) Attitudes and Attitude Change (pp. 161-188).
  • Petty, R. E., Brinol, P. & Priester, J.R. (2009). Mass media and attitude change: Implications of the Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion. In J. Bryant & M. B. Oliver (eds.) Media effects: Advances in theory and research (pp.125-164). New York: Routledge.  

April 20, 2021: Cognitive Models of Persuasion

April 22, 2021: Cognitive Models of Persuasion


April 27, 2021: Group Project Data Presentations

  • Quiz #4: Cognitive Models of Persuasion

April 29, 2021: Group Project Data Presentations


May 04, 2021: Visual Language and Persuasion

May 06, 2021: Visual Language and Persuasion

  • Phillips, B. J. (2003). Understanding Visual Metaphor in Advertising. In L. M. Scott & R. Batra (Eds.), Persuasive Imagery: A Consumer Response Perspective (pp. 297–310). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.  

May 11, 2021: Visual Language and Persuasion

May 13, 2021: No Classes


May 18, 2021: Source Characteristics in Persuasion

  • Perloff, R. (2010). The Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication and Attitudes in the 21st Century. New York: Routledge. (Chapter 6)
  • Loman, J. G. B., Müller, B. C. N., Beverborg, A. O. G., van Baaren, R. B., & Buijzen, M. (2018). Self-persuasion in media messages: Reducing alcohol consumption among students with open-ended questions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 24(1), 81–91. (optional)

May 20, 2021: Source Characteristics in Persuasion

  • Schouten, A. P., Janssen, L., & Verspaget, M. (2020). Celebrity vs. Influencer endorsements in advertising: the role of identification, credibility, and Product-Endorser fit. International Journal of Advertising, 39(2), 258–281. 

May 25, 2021: Virtual Environments and Persuasion

  • Roswell, R. O., Cogburn, C. D., Tocco, J., Martinez, J., Bangeranye, C., Bailenson, J. N., Wright, M., Mieres, J. H., & Smith, L. (2020). Cultivating Empathy through Virtual Reality: Advancing Conversations about Racism, Inequity, and Climate in Medicine. Academic Medicine, 95(12), 1882–1886. 
  • Ahn, S., & Bailenson, J. (2011). Self-endorsing versus other-endorsing in virtual environments. Journal of Advertising, 40(2), 93–106. 

May 27, 2021: Final Project Q&A Session

  • Quiz #5: Source Characteristics and Virtual Environments in Persuasion

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