Scholars have said attitude is the key target of persuasion.1 Persuasion attempts are indeed often designed to change our attitude toward a candidate, toward smoking, toward buying healthier foods, toward brand A, or toward our pro-life or pro-choice point of view.

But attitude shouldn’t be the key target of persuasion.

The real goal of persuasion is to change behavior—to get someone to act differently, to get a voter to vote for your candidate, to get a smoker to stop smoking, to get a parent to buy healthier foods for the family, to get a shopper to choose brand A over brand B, or to get a legislator to take action in keeping with your pro-life or pro-choice agenda.

If you succeed in getting someone to act ...

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