What is Visual Persuasion / Manipulation?

Definition of visual persuasion

Persuasion is a symbolic style that communicators use to convince other people to change their altitude or behavior towards a certain topic or issue, using the transmission of message in an atmosphere of free choice (Jonathan, 2002, p.38). Therefore, visual persuasion is the art of using images and written art to convince a certain group of people by conveying certain message, be it creating awareness about an epidemic e.g. HIV, promoting a certain brand of goods into the market, the government promoting its agenda to its citizens, all this and much more in the atmosphere of free choice

Visual persuasion may have its impact to the society in that it understands that the human mind is more able to retain information when the said information is presented in a visual form. This is because the image or the picture speaks a thousand words compared to the words themselves. The images tend to be attention capturing, thus reducing the burden of information processing, and reinforce message argument (Wade & Swanston, 2001, p.165). This is crucial because the targeted group has no chance of misquoting the presented information.

Visual persuasion may encounter some difficulty especially during advertising. During advertising, the advertiser is primarily targeting two set of consumers-involved and uninvolved consumers. The way he persuades the involved consumers is far much difference from the way he will persuade the other set of consumers (Kurt, 2008, p.21). It is therefore important for the advertiser to put this into consideration and come up with an advert that will capture both ends.

The power of visual persuasion is that it exposes people into the message; the people tend to elaborate on the message as they think about what the message is saying, evaluate the argument in the message engage themselves into mental imagery as they view the pictures and finally opt  to make a prior decision (Knowles & Linn, 2004, p.17).

Visual persuasion highly depends on images or pictures. This is due to the assumption that seeing is believing. This is true because what we see highly influence our speech, culture and even the way we perceive the environment (Mills, 2000, p.40). With this in mind, the idea of persuasion through visual cannot be ignored or underestimated.

During persuasion, the persuader may experience different types of audience. The audience may be of different categories based on their view to the information to be presented to them. They may be agreeable, apathetic, uninformed or at some point the persuader may get an audience that is mixed (Perloff, 1993, p.103). However, the visual persuasion tend to capture the overall set of individual in that it gives them the knowledge, it inspires, convinces and more so calling them to action. It is believed that a larger percentage is likely to give in  the persuasion hence proving the power of visual persuasion.

An example of visual persuasion is an advertisement that persuade people how smoking is bad for human healthy.  Such an advert aims to convince the various readers in the public to understand the impact of smoking and how the habit not only affects the smoker, but also any person around the smoker.  This visual persuasion may present pictures, which show how human lungs are affected by severe smoking that persuades people to quite smoking.  Another example of visual persuasion is the promotion of the newly invented Smartphone technology.  The aim of the visual persuasion would ensure that the public become aware of the effectiveness of the Smartphone and its suitability than other electronic mobile devices.  This persuasion would provide pictures that depict the reliability, efficiency and cost effectiveness of the Smartphone to the public so that people may buy the electronic device.


Manipulation is an act of influencing, tamper with or deceive for selfish gains. Therefore visual manipulation is the act of an individual or a group to use visual to influence negatively and skillfully another individual or set of people for selfish gains. Artist, advertisers, and government tend to manipulate people visually (Jean, 2002, p.25).

Like visual persuasion, visual manipulation takes the center stage mostly in the business world. In decades, the advertising technique has been highly influenced by visual manipulation. Where it gives you an opportunity to create fantastical images that uniquely stands out to the consumer (Willos & Kruk, 1993, p.54). The image of any given product tend to influence the consumer who goes forward and buys it hence meaning more revenues to the given company

Manipulation of visual is done with the intention of deceiving the viewer. Many manipulators tend to take the advantage of their audience and lure them into doing that which they were not meant to do (John & Nicholas, 2004, p.78). They may also use provocative measures to influence its audience. The following are some ways that uses visual manipulation. They include;

During political eras the politicians will try all means possible to try and gunner votes from his and those who do not support him. Political manipulation in this case will take the center stage as the politician will use images and pictures that will lure his supporters to vote him back.

Advocating for a certain bill by the government to its citizens, the government may use visual manipulation to capture the attention of the public. For instance, when a new constitution is a draft and the government wants to gain support from the public, it will use all means possible manipulation being one of the techniques to have the public vote in favor of the draft.

Media houses on the other hand with an intension of capturing a larger public it will use manipulative measures during its broadcasting especially news. This is by making sure that the public’s physical and emotional feelings are well captured and they appreciate their broadcast.

Toping up the product promotion sector the advertisers especially a new movie, the promoters ted to showcase the most capturing scenes in the movie and due to the manipulation the manipulated viewer in the name of excitement goes ahead and purchases the movie (Perloff, 2003, p.16).

In a nutshell, visual persuasion is much ethical compared to manipulation which is more of selfish gain even though it targets the same set of people.

An example of visual manipulation is that a seller may use visual manipulation to promote his sunglasses in the market, which although may lack the right image to the public, but the seller can employ powerful incredible advert copy to lure consumers in order to buy the sunglasses.  The seller can use stimulating image, which attract costumers to notice the sunglasses.  The sellers can alter that emotions, attitude, and ambience portrayed in the advertising photograph to suit his marketing strategy.  With adjustment in tone and lighting, the ads photograph can be changed from dull into cheery and the model can be modified from plain into attractiveness; hence, the seller can successfully win the attitude and interests of various consumers.  Many business people have successfully managed their business activities through the use of visual manipulation that provide the opportunity to develop fantastical images, which cannot be attained through the normal standard photography. Another good example is the sale of alcohol that has survived due to visual manipulation by creating unique advertising images to attract consumers; thus increasing the company’s revenues.

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