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Activity: Creating a Proposition of Fact, Value, or Policy

  1. Choose four of these topics or create your own.
  2. For each topic, create a proposition of fact, of value, and of policy on the same topic.
    Airport security
    Stem cell research
    Body piercing
    Honor classes
    Funding presidential campaigns
    Changing the electoral college system
    Judging the Olympics
    Sentencing juveniles in adult court
    Saving the environment
    Vegetarian lifestyle
    Funding for Olympic athletes
    Banning fraternities and sororities on campus
    Delinquent dads/child support
    World AIDS crisis
    Part-time students

Activity: Analyzing Speeches by Types of Propositions, Fallacies, and Audience Adaptation

  1. Choose a topic of interest to you from The Douglass Archive at http://douglassarchives.org/. Read the speech and record the following:
    Speech title:
    Type of proposition (fact, value, policy):
    Main proposition of speech (in the words of the speech or paraphrased):

    Can you find examples of any of these fallacies?

    • Attack on the person (ad hominem)
    • Reduction to the absurd (reductio ad absurdum)
    • Either/or false cause (post hoc ergo propter hoc)
    • Appeal to authority (argumentum ad verecundiam)
    • Bandwagon appeal (argumentum ad populum)

  2. Peruse The Congressional Record, at www.gpoaccess.gov/crecord/index.html, and choose a speech, preferably one by your senator or representative. Read the speech and record the following:

    Speeches to Congress are often to persuade. Describe or quote from the speech to illustrate how the speaker performed any of the following methods of adapting to the audience.

    • Establishing common ground
    • Organizing for expected response
    • Adapting to hostile audience by showing understanding
    • Adapting to hostile audience by the use of appropriate humor

Activity: Analyzing Cultural Variations in Persuasion

Lustig, Myron W., and Jolene Koester. 2002. Cultural variations in persuasion. In Intercultural competence: Interpersonal communication across cultures. 4th ed. (pp., 243—253). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.


Persuasion, as Chapter 14 illustrates, hinges on one's perception of reasoning, evidence, logic, and credibility. An easy mistake for speakers to make is to assume that what is reasonable and logical to them is also reasonable and logical to everyone else. It just isn't so, as Myron W. Lustig and Jolene Koester illustrate in this excerpt from their book, Intercultural Competence. With fascinating intercultural examples, they describe particular approaches to preferred choices of reason, logic, and evidence across cultures. What is often called common sense might better be called culture sense. You will find this information applicable as you strive to adapt to the audience, choose evidence, use reasoning, and establish your credibility in a way that is pertinent to the cultural context in which you are speaking.


  1. Can you think of situations where stories provide the strongest evidence?
  2. Describe how various cultures place different values on physical evidence and testimony.
  3. Distinguish among the key characteristics of quasilogical style, presentation style, and analogical style. By which style are you most likely to be persuaded?
  4. Besides the Jesse Jackson example in the reading, can you think of other examples where audience and speaker styles clashed?
  5. How can the information in this reading help you prepare and present your persuasive messages?

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