Case Examples in Social Psychology Part II

Photo Credit: Brewminate

Photo Credit: Brewminate

By Dr. Monique M. Chouraeshkenazi

(Psychological case study) Hearing about the huge repair bills a neighbor’s sister had on her Saab is the best answer because receiving information from someone you know to discuss something as serious as a vehicle purchase increases the chances of a potential buyer making a better, informed decision. The next best option would be to review consumer reports, as such information is established by the Consumers Union and its credibility is predicated on unbiased data to consumers. However, obtaining first-hand information from an individual’s personal experience seems more realistic and trustworthy. Nisbett (2013) provided a similar scenario of a couple deciding whether to purchase a Saab or Volvo. They reviewed consumer reports on both vehicles, but remembered two friends owned a Saab and one owned a Volvo. The owners of the Volvo only had minor maintenance issues, but the individual who owned the Saab complained of frequent, major mechanical issues, which led to selling the car at a loss. Understanding their friend’s frustration with the Saab may have given thought about whether the car is reliable and cost effective. 

(2) The field experiment was an attempt to mitigate the pressures of smoking cigarettes amongst seventh graders. McAlister’s strategy was proven to be effective because adolescents have impressionable personalities and can be influenced, especially if the consequences are positive or favorable. Results found most youth did not want to smoke, but did so due to peer pressure and acceptance (American Psychological Association, 2018). McAlister and his colleagues “inoculated” young teens from smoking by placing them in scenarios (or roleplaying scenes) where they could practice saying “no” in confidence (Perry, Killen, Slinkard, & McAlister, 1980). As a result, the exercises helped young teens face those who coerced them into smoking by having the will stand up to the pressures. Researchers found teens, who used this method, were half as likely to smoke cigarettes regardless of popularity or status (Perry, Killen, Slinkard, & McAlister, 1980). 

(3) Phillips (1983) tested the model of aggression paradigm to determine the effects of mass media violence throughout the world. He focused on heavy weight prize fights to compare with the amount of homicides per year within the United States. Data was derived from not only Berkowitz’s previous research, but from a boxing encyclopedia, covering a five-year period in the mid to late-1970s; he meticulously observed all homicides that were reported from the National Center for Health Statistics (Aronson & Aronson, 2013). Results found that approximately after three days, the amount of homicides would increase after a regular championship fighting event. By the third day, homicides rose roughly eight percent and by the fourth day, a little over four percent (Aronson & Aronson, 2013). Phillips theorized possible alternatives for the spike in homicides: whether special fighting events were hosted overseas or if the news outlet aired such events, exacerbating the propensity to cause homicides. 

(4) Very important characteristics are the ability to listen, understand, and have willingness for change and consideration. There are many people, who have opinions, want to express them, but do not listen to another person’s position/stance. For example, my staff booked me for a radio show to discuss my book that was published earlier this year. The host wanted me to be on the show because I was a veteran, but was not interested in advertising my book. Though he did not want to discuss the book, I was persuaded to accept the interview because he was directhonest, and passionate (adjectives that catch my attention is reasoning/persuasion) about his position through clear communication. He wanted to give veterans the best show experience, in which he put in much time and effort.  My staff did not want me to do the show because she felt he was rude in declining the book offer, and I understood her position. Reviewing the emails, his response could be perceived as having harsh undertones, but I understand the language and communication of the military community, so I was not offended.  

After months of back-and-forth to determine an interview date, the host reached out to my staff and apologized. He took the time to read my biography, view my academic blog, and social media sites. He did not realize my book was a college textbook, targeting veterans, students, and military on the same issues we were to discuss on the show. He made an impulse decision based on an assumption I wrote something unrelated to the show and was trying to use the opportunity to sell myself. In a way, it is true. My textbook would be advertised for purchase, but the main reason was for potential customers to understand why I wrote it and why those should be informed on the evolution of homeland/national and global security. He was appreciative because I could have declined the offer, considering my bookings were strictly for the tour, but he realized intent (regardless) was to inform and educate. Had we both been stubborn on such a minor incident, we would not have had a successful and very inspiring show. This example is a classic scenario on what I believe is a successful outcome through mutual respect and understanding. In my earlier years, I would be expedient to disregard someone who did this, but now, it is about being patient and listening. If I would have declined the offer to be on the show, there would have been so much insightful information (between the both of us) that would not have been shared. He could have told other radio stations negative things about me to have me blacklisted from other networks. He could have said I was an “unpatriotic veteran.” So, before I act, composure, listening, and understanding must exist before I take advice from persuaders (and vice versa). 

(5) Obvious attempts can be challenges for persuasion, especially when dealing with intelligent, thought-provoking (calculating), coherent, and collected individuals (groups or businesses). Seemingly, it is difficult to determine if direct and indirect beliefs to persuasion are effective (Youjae, 1990). An antiquated research analysis, Youjae (1990) found visual cues determined whether direct or indirect persuasion was effective, showing more favor toward indirect persuasion for advertising purposes. Visual cues are predicated on verbal claims, which cannot be fully supported by an intended belief system, which is ineffective. However, a persuasive attempt can be found effective based on the following characteristics: credibility, knowledge, and similar in target interest (University of Kansas, 2018, paras. 14-18). Explaining how persuasion works within the security community, Weirich (2001) noted examining such methods is predicated on behavior and specific roles individuals play that influences effectiveness. Understanding the leadership and subordinate roles increases direct persuasion effectiveness through knowledge, abilities, and responsibilities. Subordinate roles are more inclined to be persuaded by those in higher positions, increasing efficacy within the security realm. 


American Psychological Association. (2018). Have your children had their anti-smoking shots?

            Retrieved from (accessed on 16 

            September 2018). 

Aronson, J. & Aronson, E. (eds.). (2012). Readings About the Social Animal. (11thed).        

New York: NY. Worth Publishers. 

Nisbett, R. E. (2013). Rules for Reasoning. New York, NY: Taylor & France Psychology Press. 

Pillen, C. L., Slinkard, L. A., & McAlister, A. L. (1980). Peer teaching and smoking prevention

            among junior high students. Adolescence, 15, pp. 277-281. 

University of Kansas. (2018). Using principles of persuasion. Retrieved from (accessed on 16 September 2018). 

Weirich, D. (2001). Pretty good persuasion: A first step toward effective password security in the 

            real world. United Kingdom: University College London. 

Youjae, Y. (1990). Direct and indirect approaches to advertising persuasion: Which is more 

            effective? Elsevier, 20(4), pp. 279-291.