Situational Influence in Interpersonal Persuasion

Richard J. Lutz, University of California, Los Angeles
Pradeep Kakkar, University of Pennsylvania
ABSTRACT - Situational influence on interpersonal persuasion processes is analyzed within the framework of decision process models of behavior, in particular the Fishbein behavioral intention model. Initially, relationships between the global situation and constructs in the Fishbein model are postulated, followed by an examination of current approaches to the study of situations. The interpersonal factor is identified as a key aspect of situations, and it is isolated as a key situational dimension for the study of interpersonal persuasion. A dyadic decision process model is then developed, with specific attention devoted to situational elements. Directions for research in three areas are suggested: situational taxonomy, situational influence on decision processes, and interpersonal persuasion as a dyad of decision makers.
[ to cite ]:
Richard J. Lutz and Pradeep Kakkar (1976) ,"Situational Influence in Interpersonal Persuasion", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 03, eds. Beverlee B. Anderson, Cincinnati, OH : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 370-378.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3, 1976      Pages 370-378

SITUATIONAL INFLUENCE IN INTERPERSONAL PERSUASION

Richard J. Lutz, University of California, Los Angeles

Pradeep Kakkar, University of Pennsylvania

ABSTRACT -

Situational influence on interpersonal persuasion processes is analyzed within the framework of decision process models of behavior, in particular the Fishbein behavioral intention model. Initially, relationships between the global situation and constructs in the Fishbein model are postulated, followed by an examination of current approaches to the study of situations. The interpersonal factor is identified as a key aspect of situations, and it is isolated as a key situational dimension for the study of interpersonal persuasion. A dyadic decision process model is then developed, with specific attention devoted to situational elements. Directions for research in three areas are suggested: situational taxonomy, situational influence on decision processes, and interpersonal persuasion as a dyad of decision makers.

In their excellent review of the personal selling literature, Davis and Silk (1972) report the results of a sales campaign initiated in Uruguay by a psychologist, Jacobo Varela, on behalf of an upholstery firm. As a part of the sales program, Varela attempted to duplicate, as closely as possible, key aspects of Asch's classic experiments on group pressure. Prospective retailers were invited to the company's offices in small groups to hear a sales presentation for ready-made curtains, a product which was contrary to some existing cultural norms. After a presentation utilizing a variety of visual aids (e.g., color slides, videotapes, actual product samples), the salesman immediately asked the prospective customer who appeared to be most favorable to the product (on the basis of facial expressions and other aspects of "body language'') to express his opinion verbally, giving reasons for this opinion. Ultimately, the prospect was asked to commit himself to an order. The salesman then turned his attention to the prospect appearing next most favorable and repeated the process. Thus, each successive prospect faced a greater degree of group pressure to make an order. Similar to the results obtained by Asch, large proportions of initially resistant prospects were induced to make orders. [For a fuller description of Varela's program, see Zimbardo and Ebbeson (1969).]

The intent of this rather protracted introductory example is to underscore the importance of situational variables in the interpersonal influence process. Varela's program took the individual retailer from the comfortable confines of his own shop, where the salesman has a limited supply of persuasive resources, to the manufacturer's offices, complete with modern persuasive hardware and a carefully designed persuasive situation that used peer group pressure to enhance the receptivity of prospective customers. From this example, it is clear that, at least to some degree, the personal sales situation is a controllable variable, one that can be at least partially modified by the salesman to enhance his likelihood of success. However, before the situation can achieve full status as an explanatory variable for interpersonal persuasion and other forms of consumer behavior, methods and models must be developed to facilitate the study of situational influence.

The purpose of this paper is to propose a model for the assessment of situational influence on consumer decision making, particularly within the context of interpersonal persuasion. To accomplish this task, a conceptual model of situational influence on a single individual's decision process is presented, followed by a discussion of currently used approaches for the classification of situations. Finally, a model of interpersonal persuasion as a two-person decision process is developed, with specific reference to situational effects on this process.

SITUATIONAL INFLUENCE ON THE CONSUMER DECISION PROCESS

There are several models of the consumer decision process extant in the literature. For the purposes of the present discussion, Fishbein's (1957, 1975) modification of the theory of propositional control has been selected as representative of this general class of models. Three factors led to the selection of the Fishbein model: 1) more than any of its competitors, it has generated considerable interest and empirical testing by consumer researchers (See Ryan and Bonfield, 1975); 2) it makes some specific predictions regarding the locus of situational influence on parameters of the model; and 3) it is particularly suited to generating prescriptions for influencing the nature of the consumer decision process, thus making it a potentially valuable approach to the study of interpersonal persuasion.

In the interest of conserving space, a full presentation of the functional equations upon which the Fishbein theory rests will be omitted. The interested reader should see Ryan and Bonfield (1975) for a thorough presentation of the theory or, more conveniently, a paper by Lutz (1975) in this volume. Diagrammatically, the Fishbein theory appears as shown in Figure 1. Each box in the figure represents a theoretical construct; solid lines connecting the boxes are supposed causal linkages among the theory's constructs. The dashed lines in the figure represent potential situational influences on constructs and relationships within the Fishbein theory. [Actually the flow of supposed causation shown in Figure 1 is only on configuration out of many possible; for instance, attitude (A-act) may exert causal influence "backward" on elements of cognitive structure. Nevertheless, the present representation is sufficient for the purposes of explicating situational influence.] Thus the situation is seen as an exogenous variable which may exert influence on any of all of the endogenous variables shown in the figure. For the present, specific dimensions of the situation are not considered; rather, it is treated as a global construct. In a later section of this paper situational variables will be studied in more detail.

Each of the hypothesized relationships between the situation and Fishbein theory constructs has been numbered in the figure for the purposes of discussion. While space limitations prohibit a complete review of all literature pertinent to the hypothesized linkages, a brief rationale will be offered for each relationship. In some cases there are empirical findings to support the relationship. Table 1 provides a summary of illustrative research supporting the various relations and also gives brief hypothetical examples of each type of situational influence on the consumer decision process.

FIGURE 1

SITUATIONAL INFLUENCE ON THE CONSUMER DECISION PROCESS

Turning first to situational influence on beliefs about consequences of behavior (#1 in the figure and table), the Asch (1956) conformity experiments provide evidence that group pressure can cause individuals to perceive stimuli differently than when the same stimuli are viewed in private. Similarly, Axelrod (1963) found that induced changes in subjects' moods led to substantial changes in their perceptions of products as being associated with those moods. These two studies represent only two situational factors possibly affecting Bi; another possibility would be information available in the situation. In any case, there is little doubt that situational influence can be present in the Bi construct.

Situational influence on the ai construct was also documented by Axelrod (1963). He found that the evaluations of nine different moods were significantly more favorable when subjects were actually in those moods than when they were not. In the same vein, Peak (1960) found need for achievement scores among students measured on the day of a quiz to be significantly higher than when the same group was measured on a day when no quiz was given. Both of these findings relate directly to the proposed situation influence on ai.

In the same sense that the Bi construct is influenced by he presence of others, the NBj construct (normative beliefs) should certainly exhibit the same tendency. Intuitively, it seems plausible that a person would be better able to estimate NBj accurately when the significant others are physically present to tell him either verbally or through body language (e.g., frowning) what they expect of him. Again, the Asch (1956) study is used as justification for this hypothesized relationship, as he demonstrated the pervasiveness of group influence on one type of beliefs. Presumably normative beliefs would be similarly affected by group pressures.

Motivation to comply with norms (#4 in the figure) can be seen as largely affected by the presence of others. This postulate is supported by the work of Kelman (1958), who pointed out that the degree to which individuals comply with group expectations is a function of the visibility of that conformity behavior of the group. Thus, for example, a person may be more motivated to comply with a salesman's expectations when the salesman is present.

Situational influence on the cognitive structure and normative structure indices (#5 and #6 in the figure) falls under the rubric of information processing research. Wright (1974) has shown that information processing "rules" used by consumers vary with time pressure and distractions in the situation. Thus the summative models shown in the figure may not apply equally well across all situations. Deviations from these models would appear in attenuated correlations between SBiai and A-act between SNBjMcj and SN. [The subjective norms construct, which is intended to be a summary measure of social influence, has only recently appeared formally as a part of the Fishbein model (Fishbein and Azjen, 1975), although it had been alluded to informally for several years prior to that. Ryan (1975) has recently introduced a similar construct, Social Compliance, which also provides a summary measure of normative influence.]

With respect to situational influence on A-act (#7 in the figure), Razran (1940) and Janis et al. (1965) demonstrated that a sort of halo effect sometimes operates in attitude change situations. If the situation is pleasant, attitude change in the direction advocated is enhanced, and vice versa if the situation is unpleasant. Thus a consumer can be expected to be more favorable toward products and also the influence of other people (#8 in the figure) in pleasant situations.

TABLE 1

THEORETICAL SUPPORT FOR, AND EXAMPLES OF, SITUATIONAL INFLUENCE ON CONSUMER BEHAVIOR

Relationships #9 and #10 deal with the regression weights used in the Fishbein model to determine if behavioral intentions are under attitudinal (W1) or normative (W2) control. Fishbein (1967) has theorized that the relative magnitude of these two weights should shift depending upon the situation. For instance, in highly visible situations (e.g., personal selling), W2 might be expected to be relatively larger than under less visible conditions.

The situation may also exert direct influence on the formation of intentions (#11). For example, Sheth (1970) has posited that the "anticipated situation" is an important determinant of BI. This "anticipated situation" construct is essentially an assessment on the part of the individual as to what sorts of factors will ultimately be present when he attempts to perform the behavior in question. From another angle, Triandis et al. (1972) theorize that habit strength is a major determinant of BI. To the extent that a situation is highly familiar, the consumer may intend to engage in simple repetitive behavior with little cognitive activity.

Finally, the situation may exert influence directly on behavior. For example, Brislin and Olmstead (1973) found that Wicker's (1971) "judged influence of extraneous events" construct controlled a large proportion of the variance in overt behavior, although slightly less than BI did. Nevertheless, there is little question that situational constraints frequently cause attenuation of the relationship between intentions and behavior.

From the preceding discussion, it can be seen that the Fishbein theory is highly situation-specific and thus requires situation-specific measurement procedures to be used effectively. Furthermore, not only does the situation have influence on the Fishbein theory at several points, but the resultant behavior is seen as having a reciprocating influence on the situation. Bandura (1974) has stated: "To the oft-repeated dictum, change contingencies and you change behavior, should be added the reciprocal side, change behavior and you change the contingencies" (Bandura, 1974, p. 866). This point takes on particular significance within the context of interpersonal persuasion, where the behavior of one person may substantially alter the situation within which the other person must act. This point will emerge more clearly in a subsequent section of this paper.

Up to this point, situational influence has been discussed in a rather abstract manner, emphasizing the loci of such influence on the consumer decision process. However, to fully investigate situational influence, an adequate conceptualization and operationalization of the situation, as a construct, is necessary. The next section discusses some approaches to the problem of specifying the situation.

SPECIFYING THE SITUATION

Virtually every researcher to examine situational influence on behavior has pointed out the need for taxonomies of situations similar to the taxonomies of persons found in the literature on individual differences. Sells (1963b) summarizes the problem:

The most obvious need in evaluating the manifold encounter of organism and environment is a more satisfactory and systematic conceptualization of the environment. This implies a taxonomic, dimensional analysis of stimulus variables comparable to the trait systems that have been developed for individual difference variables . . .

In the absence of clear perception of the basic dimensions of the total stimulus situation, experimenters must have systematic information about relevant dimensions of the environment beyond the piecemeal, concrete, immediate variables customarily observed on the basis of experience. (p. 700)

In other words, it is not enough simply to describe in infinite detail a particular situation in which behavior is to occur. Rather, that situation should be characterized by locations along certain situation dimensions. This latter approach will allow the accumulation of knowledge about situational impact on behavior, while the former approach is likely to lead to a series of findings which are little more than anecdotal.

Several investigators, working in widely differing domains, have offered typological dimensions for the classification of situations. Table 2 summarizes some of these typologies. It is neither feasible nor desirable to discuss each of these typologies in detail at this time; nevertheless, there is one critical dimension along which all these typologies can be arrayed--that of degree of concreteness/abstractness. One of the most debated issues in situational research is whether the situation should be defined in "objective'' or "subjective" terms (Belk, 1975; Lutz and Kakkar, 1975). Arguments on either side are compelling. On the one hand, Mausner (1963) has argued in favor of objectivity: "If one specifies the stimulus in terms of the nature of the receiver, lawfulness becomes impossible" (p. 107). But Rotter (1955), on the other hand, states: "The basic principle for classifying or categorizing a situation is psychological, that is, subjective . . ." (p. 259).

The typologies summarized in Table 2 represent virtually the entire spectrum ranging from objectivity/ concreteness to subjectivity/abstractness. For instance, the dimensions employed by Rasmar (1970), Barker (1968), Porter and Lawler (1965), and Sells (1963a) are almost completely objective in nature, while those included by Rotter (1955), Murray (1938), Moos (1973), and Kakkar and Lutz (1975) are highly subjective. Sherif and Sherif (1956), Toffler (1970) and Belk (1974b) include some dimensions which are objectively defined and others which are more subjective in nature.

TABLE 2

ALTERNATIVE SETS OF DIMENSIONS USED TO CLASSIFY SITUATIONS

At the far end of the dimension in abstractness is the recent framework proposed by Mehrabian and Russell (1974) wherein situations are described solely by their impact on three mediating emotional response variables, thus circumventing the problem of defining the environment in either objective or subjective terms. [The interested reader is referred to Lutz and Kakkar (1975) for an initial application of this framework to consumer behavior.] While this framework would probably not suffice as the only means for conceptualizing situational influence, it can be a powerful tool for the explanation of situational influence when used in conjunction with other, more concrete typological schemes.

Several authors (e.g., Mausner, 1963; Belk, 1975) have advocated a unified approach in which objective and subjective definitions of the situation are combined to yield deeper insights into situational influence on behavior. By extending this notion to incorporate the emotional response mediators proposed by Mehrabian and Russell (1974), movement toward a "middle-range" theory (Ray, 1973) of situational influence on consumer decision processes is effected.

Figure 2 presents a model of situational influence which attempts to account for both the objective and subjective situation, as well as the mediating responses to the situation. First of all, the total stimulus situation is seen as consisting of virtually an infinite number of possible dimensions. To fully describe the total stimulus situation would be an onerous task at best and an impossible one in all likelihood. Nevertheless, it is the starting point for an analysis of situational influence.

Fortunately, there is support for the delimiting of the situational definition to a subset of relevant dimensions. Belk (1974a) states: ". . . situation may then be defined as all those factors . . . which have a demonstrable and systematic effect on current behavior'' (p. 156, emphasis added). Thus only those aspects or dimensions of the situation which are salient to the behavior under investigation are necessary for specification of the objective, or distal, situation, which as shown in the figure, can be described as k dimensions. These dimensions are objective descriptions of the situation, such as number of people present, size of room, temperature, etc.

In similar fashion, the psychological or proximal situation is described along the same k dimensions as is the objective situation. However, the data of interest here are the individual's perceptions of the situation rather than the objective characteristics per se. For instance, how many people does the person believe to be present, how large does the room seem, and how warm or cool does it feel to the person would be dimensions of the psychological situation. Viewing the two situation descriptions as vectors of situational variables, the veridicality of consumers' situational perceptions could be studied in a manner similar to that used by Brunswik (1952). That portion of Figure 2 is purposely patterned after his "lens model" to illustrate one interesting area for future situational research: the relationship between the objective and psychological situations. This point will be discussed in more detail later in the paper.

The psychological situation thus is seen as the translation of objective reality into psychological terms, which are regarded as internal stimuli to the individual, leading to the emotional responses which mediate the impact of the situation on decision processes and behavior. Mehrabian and Russell (1974) have presented an impressive array of evidence that individuals respond to situations along three primary dimensions of emotion: pleasure, arousal and dominance. Therefore, regardless of the specific dimensions of the psychological situation, levels of the three emotional response variables form the situational context within which decision processes and behavior occur, as shown previously in Figure 1.

FIGURE 2

A MEDIATIONAL MODEL OF SITUATIONAL INFLUENCE

The solid line connecting Mediating Emotional Responses and Decision Processes in Figure 2 is intended to show that the situation's impact on behavior is seen as predominantly filtered through decision process variables, as in Figure 1. [Kakkar (1975) has recently found significant relationships between pleasure, arousal and dominance and constructs within the Fishbein model shown in Figure 1.] However, as was also indicated in Figure 1, the situation may have direct impact on behavior. This possibility is shown in Figure 2 by the dashed line leading from Mediating Emotional Responses to Behavior. In like fashion, the dashed lines connecting Proximal Situation to Decision Processes and Behavior indicate that perceptions of the situation may directly influence those variables without being mediated by emotional reactions to the situation. These possibilities are discussed in more detail in the next section.

In sum, Figure 2 represents an overview of processes and mediating variables through which the situation is hypothesized to influence consumer behavior. Several research issues are raised by the form of the model in Figure 2--these will be discussed shortly.

SITUATIONAL INFLUENCE ON INTERPERSONAL PERSUASION

In reviewing the situational typologies listed in Table 2, it is clear that a major element of the situation is the interpersonal dimension. The only two typologies which do not explicitly consider interpersonal influence are the highly abstract typology proposed by Mehrabian and Russell (1974) and the one used by Kasmar (1970) for the design of physical environments. Thus the interpersonal dimension would appear to he a very important one for the characterization of situations in general and especially for the study of interpersonal persuasion, where the salience of that dimension is undoubtedly heightened.

In order to provide a framework for the study of situational influence on interpersonal persuasion, an attempt has been made to combine key concepts of the decision process orientation shown in Figure 1 with the situational model of Figure 2. Using the persons in a dyadic interaction as the basic units of analysis, a model of situational influence on interpersonal persuasion is presented in Figure 3.

The model shown in Figure 3 is quite similar to that in Figure 1, with two important exceptions. First, the decision processes of two people, rather than just one, are included in Figure 3. This serves to illustrate the idea that in any interpersonal persuasion situation the two parties, i.e., the communicator and the receiver, are really decision makers. The communicator is making decisions as to what sort of appeals to use in order to influence the receiver to accept his position, product, etc. Thus, within the context of the Fishbein model, the behavior in question for the communicator is the use of some persuasive appeal. For the receiver, the behavior under analysis would be compliance with the influence attempt, e.g., purchase of a salesperson's product.

It will be noted that Person 1 and Person 2 in the figure are portrayed symmetrically. This is in acknowledgement of the fact that the roles of communicator and receiver are interchangeable throughout the persuasion process. For instance, the salesperson may initiate a sales appeal designed to influence the purchaser to buy a product at a certain price. The purchaser may then counter with a lower price, thus adopting the role of communicator in attempting to persuade the salesperson to accept the counter offer. This viewpoint is consistent with Thibaut and Kelley's (1959) theory of interaction outcomes, which employs dyadic interaction analysis to study behaviors such as two-person bargaining processes.

The second major difference between Figures 1 and 3 is the isolation of the interpersonal dimension of situational influence. Whereas in Figure 1 the entire situation was viewed as the context within which behavior occurs, in Figure 3 the behavior of the other person in the dyad is separated from the remaining dimensions of the situation. To avoid confusion, arrows indicating the various loci of situational influence on the decision process have been omitted in Figure 3. However, both Situational Context and the behavior of the other member of the dyad can serve as influences in any of the twelve relationships shown as dashed lines in Figure 1.

FIGURE 3

MICROFORMULATION OF THE INTERPERSONAL DIMENSION OF SITUATIONAL INFLUENCE

Furthermore, both Situational Context and dyadic behavior are subject to the same situational influence processes modeled in Figure 2. The psychological situation may act directly on individual decision processes and/or behavior or through the mediating emotional response variables.

A hypothetical example may serve to illuminate the use of the model in Figure 3 for analyzing interpersonal persuasion. Assume Person 1 is the communicator and is attempting to sell Person 2 a product. Person l's first decision is whether or not to use a certain sales pitch. He holds beliefs (B1) about the use of this sales appeal (e.g., it works, it is unethical, it is difficult to perform) and evaluations (ai) of these attributes. Further, he holds some normative beliefs (NBj) with respect to the pitch (e.g., his boss expects him to use it, his children expect him not to), and he is more or less motivated to comply (Mcj) with these expectations. Each of the four constructs mentioned thus far is subject to situational influence, including influence of the behavior of the receiver. The communicator weighs all his beliefs (SBiai and SNBjMcj), arriving at an overall assessment of his feelings (A-act) and other's expectations (SN) regarding the use of the sales appeal. Depending upon the situation, either A-act or GSP carries more weight in the formation of his intentions (BI) to use the appeal. Finally, he makes a decision and uses the appeal (OB) to attempt to persuade Person 2.

Person 2 perceives Person l's behavior along with other aspects of the situation. On the basis of this perception, which may or may not be an accurate reflection of Person l's actual behavior (Figure 2), Person 1 may have an emotional response to the situation or may directly incorporate his perceptions into an inferential process which influences his beliefs, etc. Person 2's beliefs (Bi) may include product attributes, both the number and level of which may be influenced by Person l's behavior. Salient normative beliefs (NGj) are likely to include those of his family and the salesman himself. Many of Person l's persuasive attempts may be directed at influencing attribute evaluations (ai) or motivation to comply (Mcj) with various referents. Similarly, Person 1 may influence the nature of Person 2's cognitive processes (SBiai and SNBjMcj), leading to impact on A-act and SN, the attitude and normative pressure toward purchase, respectively. Finally, Person 2 forms an intention (BI) to purchase or not and expresses this in overt behavior (OB), again subject to situational influence, both from Person 1 and the remainder of the Situational Context. If he decides not to purchase, then he immediately enters another decision process as the communicator, perhaps attempting to convince Person 1 to lower his price or to go away.

The reciprocal process outlined above will continue until one or the other of the two parties involved is either successful or leaves the situation. Use of the model shown in Figure 3 would enable the researcher to uncover which situational influences were instrumental in leading to the consummation of the interpersonal persuasion process, regardless of the nature of the final outcome or the number of iterations of the process required.

FUTURE RESEARCH DIRECTIONS

Future research on the impact of situational influence on interpersonal persuasion falls into three main categories: 1) research on the nature of the situation and methods for specifying its dimensions; 2) research on situational influence on individual decision processes and behavior; and 3) research on the interpersonal persuasion dyad and the effects of the situation on it.

Research on the Situation

Referring back to Figure 2, several research questions emerge with respect to the situation per se. First of all, there is a need for taxonomical work within the consumer domain. Excellent starting points for this pursuit would be the work of Barker (1968) on behavior settings and Moos' (1973) analysis of treatment environments. The former approach is aimed at defining the objective situation, while the latter focuses on the psychological situation. Use of these two approaches in tandem to investigate situational dimensions in supermarkets, for example, may lead to interesting insights, particularly for public policy makers interested in introducing more product information into that situation.

A second area of needed research on the situation is the veridicality of consumer situation perceptions. Using Brunswik's (1952) lens model or the extension of it suggested by Dudycha and Naylor (1966) would be an appropriate methodological approach to this issue. The importance of this research cannot be overemphasized for the manager or policy maker hoping to influence consumer behavior by modifying situational dimensions. Unless the consumer perceives the situation along the same dimensions as the (objective) ones being manipulated, such strategies may prove fruitless.

The relationship between the psychological situation and measures of emotional response would provide useful policy inputs, provided that the emotional response variables relate to decision processes and behavior. For instance, it would be helpful to the marketer to know which aspects of the situation lead to high pleasure, low dominance and moderate arousal on the part of the consumer, for under these conditions Mehrabian and Russell (1974) have found the greatest tendency for subjects to approach the situation. By using this general finding to design store interiors, shopping centers, etc., the marketer may be able to increase the amount of time customers spend shopping in that environment. To do this, the relationship among emotional response and the psychological situation must be identified. Initial work in this direction has been reported by Kakkar and Lutz (1975).

Research on Situational Impact on Decision Processes

Figure 1 illustrates areas for research on the decision process. First, it should be determined which definition of the situation is most appropriate as the operationalization of "Situational Context." Of the three alternatives discussed in this paper--i.e., the objective situation, the psychological situation, and mediating emotional responses--the relationships of latter two to decision processes have recently been investigated by Kakkar (1975). More research is necessary to establish generalizations regarding the impact of situational variables on indices of cognitive structure, the formation of intentions, etc.

A second research thrust in this area would be the linkage of general patterns of findings relating situational dimensions to emotional response and general patterns of relationships between emotional response and decision processes. This linkage would again be a valuable one for managers and policy makers.

Research on the Interpersonal Persuasion Dyad

Many of the research issues in the two immediately preceding sections have a direct bearing on interpersonal persuasion as well: however, there are additional important questions raised in this context. First, the degree to which the interpersonal dimension of the situation is heightened in importance is a key question. If it is the dominant influence, then other features of the situation can be ignored by the marketer; if it is only one of several important influences, then the marketer will have to be concerned with other controllable dimensions of the situation. Initial work in this area has been reported by Wilson et al. (1972).

Secondly, the combination of a situational perspective and a decision process orientation may provide a fruitful area for extensions of social exchange theory, particularly Thibaut and Kelley's (1959) theory of interaction outcomes. Expansion of the model shown in Figure 3 to incorporate multiple behavioral options would be a first step in this direction.

In conclusion the model proposed in this paper for the study of situational influence on interpersonal persuasion process can be viewed as an intersection of three major classes of behavior theories: situational influence, decision process models, and social exchange theory. Through this combination perhaps all three theories can gain in richness. The benefits to those engaged in interpersonal persuasion would include an increased understanding of the processes through which it works and prescriptions for the improvement of the processes through which it works and prescriptions for the improvement of the effectiveness of interpersonal persuasive attempts.

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