Try to imagine what it must have been like to elect a national leader before the days of television or even radio. Consider Abraham Lincoln, who ranks among the greatest U.S. presidents. Although he is famous for many of his speeches, relatively few people in the 1860s would ever have heard him speak. Most would not know what his voice sounded like and what impression his words made as he spoke. Many would have seen his image but not know what he was like in person and the impact of his physical presence. Despite how we honor Lincoln today, he was not nearly as popular when he was president. There were plenty of critics who did not see him as competent. Consider one factorLincolns appearance. If you knew little else about him, how would his photo influence your view of him?
Contrast that experience to what we know today. All forms of media cover the U.S. presidential elections. You get constant opportunities to evaluate firsthand a presidential or vice presidential candidates characteristics as a communicator and qualities as a leader. As you examined through the reading in the text, those characteristics include social attractiveness, authority, and credibility. And those same characteristics also apply to other people in our lives and inform how we pay attention to them and how they influence our thinking and actions.
For this Assignment, you will explore the characteristics of a communicator and how source factors in persuasion influence your views of a speaker and the persons words and ideas. You will analyze a national presidential or vice presidential debate for your response to the two candidates, with emphasis on your judgment of their credibility.
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