Our Influence™ Methodology

Get insights into the messages that are most compelling to a target audience


Learn About our Influence™ Methodology

test your message appeal

Influence™ gives campaign managers precise insight into the messages that are most compelling to a target audience, as well as insight into the precise vernacular and rhetorical framing that are most compelling (cognitively convincing) and motivational (emotionally appealing).

Each message tested using Influence™ is typically divided into three components, including:

A stated position on a specific campaign topic, or issue

A justification, or reason, for the stated position

A rhetorical frame that casts the topic or issue within a particular metaphorical context

Influence™ uses visual stimuli alongside text and/or streaming video. Other experimental manipulations include priming respondents with attributes such as:

The gender of the spokesperson

The political party of the spokesperson

Other salient characteristics relevant to the topic or issue

Respondents are then asked to evaluate, and respond to, several messages, the content of which is subject to experimental conditioning and randomized priming cues. The outcome is a fully representative understanding of the cognitive appeal and emotional power of the messages under investigation, and a complete understanding of how the message should be stated, justified and placed within a consistent metaphorical frame for each audience under investigation. The priming methods provide additional insight into whether the topic should be broached differently by men and women, Democrats and Republicans and any of the other priming conditions included in the research.

Get unique insight.

Influence™ is superior to other message testing methods in three important ways. First, it is quantitative, which means that the results are less susceptible to the subjective influences associated with qualitative research methods. Second, the research evaluates the cognitive and emotional appeal of each campaign message. Third, the results are generalizable to a larger population because the research employs the use of probabilistic samples consisting of individuals within a target audience.

Influence™ tells campaigns:

The most effective way to state a position on a topic or issue

The most effective way to support—or argue for—a stated position

The most effective rhetorical frame that enables the message to resonate within a metaphorical context

It also provides insight into variations in message effectiveness based on the salient characteristics of the person delivering the message.

The responsible use of Influence™.

We recognize the power that Influence™ represents for marketers, politicians and others interested in manipulating public opinion. We launched this product from the optimistic outlook that is George Gallup’s legacy. From the very beginning, Gallup argued that scientific public opinion polling could be used as a barometer to mediate the will of the public and the power of those in elective office to act on behalf of the public. In its most idealized form, public opinion polling measures the pulse of democracy, enabling policy makers and the public to communicate and build consensus (Moore, 1992).

Influence™ was launched in this tradition, with the goal of making it possible for campaign managers to truly understand how audiences—both supporters and opponents—understand issues. As Jonathan Haidt has taught us, the arguments between liberals and conservatives in contemporary America reflect judgments that are based on different foundations, but both are deeply rooted in human morality (Haidt, 2004).

Our goal is not manipulation, but communication. Understanding how people think and feel about an issue, we believe, will empower campaigns with the insight they need to talk to—not at—the audiences they wish to engage.