Resistance to persuasion or how to avoid being manipulated.

resistencia a la persuasión

We live in a vorágine of attempts of persuasion: mass media, the institutions and the politicians try influenciarnos constantly with messages built to influence in our decisions and our thoughts. However, the receptors of this type of messages have sufficient mechanisms to evade big part of the messages persuasivos that receive day in day out. The resistance to the persuasion can train .

In general terms, what greater is the knowledge that have on a subject, already was political or on an article that try us sell by means of advertising, more difficult is to persuade us put that will have a greater strength actitudinal to the concrete fact. Therefore, the culture, the education and the information of quality is the base of the construction of societies really free.

Why we are vulnerable to be influenciados?

Usually, to the people costs us admit that we are being influenciados in spite of himself recognise when other people are being manipulated, is the called effect third person: we think that the other more vulnerable sound to the influence of the media that one same. The fact that we think that we are not vulnerable and that always comport us like consumers of free information to the only to what contributes is to that we are an easy prey in those situations in which they try to persuade us and no us percatemos of this.

We are vulnerable mainly because we tend to react of automatic form in front of determinate information. We process the information of peripheral way, without loaning too much attention in place to do it by central road of way more reflexive. Usually it is used to to be adaptative do him case to the people of more authority or to friends, but the problem is when this uses  of way no ethical and in his own profit. The application of the principles of influence can be socially useful, since the same mechanisms that use  for embaucar can be used to educate prosocialmente. For example applied to campaigns anti-tobacco or alcohol, accidents of traffic, prevention of violence of gender, etc..

It is more usual that take decisions in base to heuristic instead of doing it of rational way when they give  these 5 situations:

  • We do not have time.
  • It exists it overloads of information that prevents meditar on the subject.
  • We think that it is a little important subject.
  • We do not have sufficient knowledges.
  • The heuristic is accessible or more easily construible. For example, it is easier to say that the fault is of the trainer that analyse if the players have applied properly his indications.

By these reasons, know the tools and strategies of persuasion will be a factor of initial protection. If we know to identify these mechanisms will have a greater possibility to examine the situation to refuse or affirm the intentions of the agent that sends us the message. For example, of all is known that to the politicians likes them inaugurate things before the elections. They do it because it follows having people that feels  influenciada by this fact in positive “theory” but that if really they were informed of the reality of the inauguration perhaps were not so influenciadas for that. Information, education and culture are the base of all progress.

>> Article related: The persuasion and his principles of social influence

How be less influenciable? The resistance to the persuasion. 

As we already came saying, the main protective criterion in front of the persuasion is the knowledge that has  on the subject, what greater information and more articulated was the most difficult knowledge will be to persuade us since ours the attitude will have a lot of more strength. We go to expose to continuation some of the factors of resistance to the most effective persuasion.

Theory of the inoculation.

In previous article spoke that recently a group of psychologists had invented a vaccine against the false news, this bases  in the theory of the inoculation proposed by McGuire (1964). Therefore, it takes his name of the analogy of the illness and the vaccine like half to surpass it. A vaccine consists in entering germs weakened in the organism with the end to stimulate ours defences so that in case of illness are prepared to combat it. As the same sucede when we treat with information.

>> Article related: Psychologists discover a vaccine against the false news.

The theory of the inoculation says that the preexposicion of a person to a form weakened of information that loom his attitudes, will achieve that the person stimulated was more resistant to similar threats in a future as long as the informative material inoculated was not so strong as so that it was not able to combat it. That is to say, if they happen  with the vaccine also could take the illness but want to think that this is under control.

The inoculation is effective because it facilitates the practice of the defence of the own beliefs and increases the motivation of the person to defend . That is to say, a person that always has had like real a series of beliefs (religion, political ideology….) And never they have been him attacked is more likely that do not have sufficient arguments for rebatirla.

The distraction

It does not do lacking to think a lot to darse us that be distracted influences us negatively on the impact of a message persuasivao. According to the same author of the theory of the inoculation, McGuire, the elements that distract when it receives  a message persuasivo interfere in the learning of the arguments and by this reason reduces the change of attitude in front of the fact presented. If we do not loan attention does not influence us.

However this can have increase the persuasion if the distraction is used for to avoid argumentative thoughts more rational. That is to say, when they want to sell us something procure that we are distracted not to do us think. It is what sucede when there is football, seems that it is easier to manipulate us if they have us distracted with another subject. The vocalicación of our arguments favours the resistance to the persuasion. So that the distraction affect to the persuasion, the message has to arouse contraargumentos.

Effects of the prevention

Warn always is used to to be positive. Therefore, and related with the theory of the inoculation the mere fact that we are warned that they go to try persuade us increases the resistance to the persuasion.

The reason that suceda this is that it favours  the preparation of contraargumentos. If they warn us and they explain the type of persuasion to which will be subjected the contraargumentación will elaborate  already before receiving it, if only they warn us but do not explain us during the reception of the message also will create contraargumentos.

Therefore, the prevention could carry to a change of attitude anticipated because the receptor of the message is used to to want to look be a difficult person to persuade, keeping high his self-esteem, so that it will show  in accordance with the message before the reception of the same. It can occur that the persuaded are wishing to be them (for example, the militant audiences of a political or religious party, without producing  like this reduction of the enthusiasm.

What more implicante was the subject for us more positive will be the prevention to reduce the impact of the message.



McGuire, W. J. (1964). Inducing resistance to persuasion: Some contemporary approaches. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 1, pp. 191-229). New York: Academic Press.

Morals, J.F., Huici, C Moya, M., Gaviria, And., López-Sáez, M. Nouvilas, And. (2003). Social psychology. Madrid: McGrawHill


Sobre el autor

Iván Pico

Graduado en Psicología (UNED). Nº Colegiado G-5480. Diplomado en Ciencias Empresariales (USC). Máster en Psicología del Trabajo y las Organizaciones. (INESEM). Máster Universitario Oficial en Orientación Profesional (UNED). Posgrado en Neuromarketing (Universidad Camilo José Cela). Técnico Deportivo Nivel II, fútbol sala (RFEF). Especialista en Psicología Aplicada al Deporte. Etc, etc...
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  • 100% de acuerdo. Cuanto más conociemiento tengamos sobre un tema y mejor formado lo tengamos en nuestra cabeza más difícl será influenciar sobre nosotros yq que tendremos las cosas claras. Quizás el problema de hoy en día es la sobreinformación sumado a un cierto desinterés general por parte de la sociedad. En fin, gracias por compartir. Saludos,