Persuasive Conduct: Alignment and Resistance in Prospecting “Cold” Calls

B. Humă, E. Stokoe, R.O. Sikveland

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


© The Author(s) 2018.Social psychology has theorized the cognitive processes underlying persuasion, without considering its interactional infrastructure—the discursive actions through which persuasion is accomplished interactionally. Our article aims to fill this gap, by using discursive psychology and conversation analysis to examine 153 “cold” calls, in which salespeople seek to secure meetings with prospective clients. We identify two sets of communicative practices that comprise persuasive conduct: (1) pre-expanding the meeting request with accounts that secure the prospect’s alignment to this course of action without disclosing its end result and (2) minimizing the imposition of the meeting to reduce the prospect’s opportunities for refusal. We conclude that persuasive conduct consists in managing the recipiency of the meeting requests by promoting alignment and hampering resistance. Overall, this article contributes to the wider discursive psychological project of “respecifying” psychological phenomena such as attitudes, memory, and emotion from the realm of social cognition to the realm of social interaction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-60
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


The authors are thankful to Emily Hofstetter, Guusje Jol, Ana Cristina Ostermann, and the members of the Discourse and Rhetoric Group (DARG) for their invaluable analytic insights shared at various stages of the development of the article. We are also grateful to the JLSP editor, Howard Giles, and three anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful feedback and suggestions on previous versions of this article. The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

FundersFunder number
Howard Giles


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