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Moral Appeal

 

Techniques General persuasionKellerman and Cole's 64 Strategies > Moral Appeal

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Get other people to agree with you by appealing to their sense of morality and social good.

Ask them whether things that you or they are proposing are right or wrong. Encourage them to do the 'right thing'. Talk about how they will affect other people, for better or worse. You can also note how people will know what they have done.

A particularly useful way of appealing to morals is by using questioning. Ask them if they would do something unethical. Of course they say no. Then link their denial to their current action. Then show them how to act morally.

Example

Would you wear clothes that were made by poor children? So don't shop there. The new shop has ethically sourced goods.

I know that cleaner is cheaper, but it harms the environment.

Neonicitinoids may kill pests but they also kill pollinators. Use a more friendly way of helping your crops grow.

Discussion

This is similar to invoking norms, but rather than using external social rules as the standard to which the person should comply, this time you are using their personal, internalized set of rules of what is right and wrong, good and bad.

Because people often use their morals as a key part of defining their personal identity, betraying their morals is almost a form of identity destruction, decreasing their very being. We still do wrong things while making excuses to ourselves about this. A reminder of our morals removes this and makes it much more likely we will be good.

Moral Appeal is the 41st of the 64 compliance-gaining strategies described by Kellerman and Cole.

See also

Invoke Norm, Values

 

Kellermann, K. & Cole, T. (1994). Classifying compliance gaining messages: Taxonomic disorder and strategic confusion. Communication Theory, 1, 3-60

 

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