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Last updated February 19, 2001


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Rank's Persuasion Model

Explanation of Theory:

Rank's model of persuasion states that persuaders use two major strategies to achieve their goals.  These strategies are nicely set into two main schemas known as (1) intensify, and (2) downplay

Theorist: Hugh Rank

Date:  1976

Primary Article:

      Rank, H. (1976). Teaching about public persuasion. In D. Dietrich (Ed.), Teaching and Doublespeak. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

Individual Interpretations:

My interpretation to this theory is similar to what most other people would interpret from it.  It is a very simplistic and somehwat obvious assessment of techniques used in persuasion.  It states the obvious and does little to help explain whether we make such decisions consciously or subconsciously. 

Metatheoretical Assumptions:
Rank's Model has mostly positivist qualities when analyzing the ontological, epistemological, and axiological assumptions. 

Ontological Assumptions:
Rank's Model appears to have one main reality, one truth, and is laid out in a very simplistic manner, that we should all see things the same way when using the model. 

Epistemological Assumptions:
Rank's Model seems to be independent in nature and allows researchers to be separate from what they are observing.

Axiological Assumptions:
Rank's Model is value-free, and appears to be unbiased to those who adapt the model into practice. 

Rank's Model is a non-scientific model that is high in methodological rigor.  While the model appears to be quite simplistic on the exterior, it is also formulated quite precisely and has the ability to be applied carefully.  The model seems to make relative sense in communication practices and is easily applied. 

Ideas and Implications:
The basic premise of the model stresses that people will either intensify or downplay certain aspects of their own product, candidate, or ideology, or those of their receiver's.  The persuader will do this in one of four methods.
1) Intensify their own strong points.
2) Intensify the weak points of the opposition.
3) Downplay their own weak points.
4) Downplay the strong points of the opposition. 

While arguing about their favorite movies, Joe continues to insist to Matt that the Die Hard movies were much better than the Lethal Weapon movies.  Rank's Model contends that Joe will use one of four main strategies to argue his point to Matt.  Joe will either: 
1) Stress the stunning performances that were given by Die Hard lead actor Bruce Willis, while pointing out the acclaim that WIllis received for the movies.
2) Stress what he beleived was poor acting by  Lethal Weapon lead actor Mel Gibson, while pointing out the negative reviews Gibson may have received for the movies.
3) Downplay the weak plotlines which were often criticized in the Die Hard movies.
4) Downplay the terrific performance by Lethal Weapon actor Danny Glover, as well as downplay the acclaim Glover received for the movies. 

Other Scholars Who Have Used This Theory:
None Identified

Relevant Research: 
None Found

Location in Eight (8) Primary Communication Theory Textbooks:

      Anderson, R., & Ross, V. (1998). Questions of communication: A practical introduction to theory (2nd ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press.  N/A

     Cragan, J. F., & Shields, D.C. (1998). Understanding communication theory: The communicative forces for human action. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.  N/A

    Griffin, E. (2000). A first look at communication theory (4th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.  N/A

     Griffin, E. (1997). A first look at communication theory (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. N/A

      Infante, D. A., Rancer, A. S., & Womack, D. F. (1997). Building communication theory (3rd ed.). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. N/A

      Littlejohn, S. W. (1999). Theories of human communication (6th ed). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. N/A

      West, R., & Turner, L. H. (2000). Introducing communication theory: Analysis and application. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield. N/A

       Wood, J. T. (1997). Communication theories in action: An introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. N/A