Academic department under which the project should be listed

Communication

Faculty Sponsor Name

Dr. Deanna Womack

Project Type

Poster

Abstract (250 words maximum)

O'Keefe's (1988) theory of message design logics explains why some messages are more

persuasive than others. The first, expressive design logic, is the most basic and focuses on

expressing individual thoughts and opinions (O’Keefe, 1988). This type of message design

merely states what the persuader wants. The second, conventional design logic, appeals to

typical reasons or emotional appeals that would be suitable for any audience. The third,

rhetorical message design logic, is the most complex and sophisticated message design focusing

on achieving an agreement between the sender and receiver in which the message provides

context. Unlike conventional design logic, rhetorical message design logic is adapted to the

particular audience being addressed.

When Message Design Logics Theory is used to examine a public service announcement

about Ebola from the WHO, one notices examples of all three types of message designs:

expressive, conventional, and rhetorical. The images used are basic and reach the largest

demographic. Literacy is not necessary; the images communicate basic ideas such as “traveling”

and “sick.” The flow chart structure also lends itself to basic understanding of the message. The

text used is also very simple; however it can be classified as conventional messaging. Messages

like, “Seek prompt medical attention” are very direct and show expressive construction. Other

messages, like the picture of a man wearing the tie and carrying luggage, do show awareness of

social convention, in this case the fact that many travelers travel for business. The message says

that Ebola can still infect business travelers. It recognizes the belief that Ebola is a “poor

peoples’ disease,” but challenges that belief with the image of a man in a suit. The message

shows little evidence of rhetorical design. There is very little back and forth communication

between the sender, the WHO, and the receiver, the traveler. This lack of the most sophisticated

design logic brings into question the effectiveness of the message as a whole. The rhetorical

message design is the most effective form of the three at persuading audiences. Perhaps adding a

blurb such as, “Protect you and your loved ones. Help stop Ebola” might convince some

receivers to agree that the actions taken in stopping Ebola could help themselves and their

families rather than just an unknown public. This is just one example of how message design

logics theory is extraordinarily useful in everyday life. It describes, explains, and predicts

behavior extremely well.

 

Message Design Logics and Messaging in the Ebola Crisis

O'Keefe's (1988) theory of message design logics explains why some messages are more

persuasive than others. The first, expressive design logic, is the most basic and focuses on

expressing individual thoughts and opinions (O’Keefe, 1988). This type of message design

merely states what the persuader wants. The second, conventional design logic, appeals to

typical reasons or emotional appeals that would be suitable for any audience. The third,

rhetorical message design logic, is the most complex and sophisticated message design focusing

on achieving an agreement between the sender and receiver in which the message provides

context. Unlike conventional design logic, rhetorical message design logic is adapted to the

particular audience being addressed.

When Message Design Logics Theory is used to examine a public service announcement

about Ebola from the WHO, one notices examples of all three types of message designs:

expressive, conventional, and rhetorical. The images used are basic and reach the largest

demographic. Literacy is not necessary; the images communicate basic ideas such as “traveling”

and “sick.” The flow chart structure also lends itself to basic understanding of the message. The

text used is also very simple; however it can be classified as conventional messaging. Messages

like, “Seek prompt medical attention” are very direct and show expressive construction. Other

messages, like the picture of a man wearing the tie and carrying luggage, do show awareness of

social convention, in this case the fact that many travelers travel for business. The message says

that Ebola can still infect business travelers. It recognizes the belief that Ebola is a “poor

peoples’ disease,” but challenges that belief with the image of a man in a suit. The message

shows little evidence of rhetorical design. There is very little back and forth communication

between the sender, the WHO, and the receiver, the traveler. This lack of the most sophisticated

design logic brings into question the effectiveness of the message as a whole. The rhetorical

message design is the most effective form of the three at persuading audiences. Perhaps adding a

blurb such as, “Protect you and your loved ones. Help stop Ebola” might convince some

receivers to agree that the actions taken in stopping Ebola could help themselves and their

families rather than just an unknown public. This is just one example of how message design

logics theory is extraordinarily useful in everyday life. It describes, explains, and predicts

behavior extremely well.