Gandhi (1982)

Yes, I know. Perhaps I should include another P for Procrastinating! But I have been so busy with my assignments and exams (with two open book exam on the same day) and I really want to write a good piece of review on Gandhi!

Since everyone is busy preparing for their open book exam, I thought if I could share my review here for the sake of your reference. I did not manage to finish it into essay. I thought point form would be just as good. Nevertheless, here it is. 


  1. Documentary film that depict the the life of Gandhi
  2. West: half naked man; brown “coolie”
  3. Moved the world sees differently
  4. Influenced notable and important leaders and political movements.
  • Civil rights movement (US) Martin Luther King
  • Nelson Mandela: Adopted the non-violence resistance philosophy in his movement
  • Einstein quoted Gandhi as “a role model for the generations to come”

Achievements and Social influence:-

    • fight discrimination of the British law against Indians in Africa and gained independence in India through the non-violent approach
    • in the heights of injustice, people are conveyed to be prepared to be fined, prisoned, property seized, or even killed without fighting back in any violent means
    • ease the tension religious between Hindus and Muslims community upon Independence that arises due to some political disputes on the partition of India that led to a large scale massacre at the border areas  through fasting

Picture: Salt March: 400mile watch to protest the tax that the British impose on the Indians, who  are rightfully belongs to the Indians in the first place. When Gandhi broke the Salt Law, it sparked large scale acts of civil disobedience against the British by millions of Indians

The aim of this writeup:

Understand the persuasion techniques used in changing people’s attitude (mobilizing and motivating followers).

Psychology of Persuasion

  1. Define persuasion: a process of consciously attempting to change attitudes through the transmission of some message (p.174, Franzoi, 2009).
  2. Generally, psychologists purpose that people’s attitude can be influenced through (Franzoi, 2009)
    1. careful and intentional evaluation of the truth (central route persuasion)
    2. heuristics to spontaneously or automatically estimate the validity of the message (peripheral route to persuasion)
  1. Central route persuasion
    1. Persuasion that occurs when people think carefully about a communication and are influenced by the strengths of its argument
    1. Two sided message: more convincing than one sided – acknowledges the opposing arguments and then refuting them
    2. In the film: convey other Indians in Africa to join the non-violence movement to protest new law that requires all Indians to be fingerprinted like criminals. He began his arguments to convey the inconveniences and degrading outcome should the law is enforced which lead many to stood up to agree with Gandhi. However, he disagreed with using violence means to protest, but “I am asking you to fight, to fight against their anger, not to provoke it… and through our pain, we will make them see their injustices”
  1. Peripheral route to persuasion
    1. Although less permanent, most of us depended on this (Wegener et al., 2004) and effect can be pervasive because attitude change can occur in the absence of comprehension: overrides the strengths of message.
      1. Most Indians at the time were peasants and illiterate: may not posses high processing level to understand the complex philosophical or political arguments
    2. Persuader credibility: perception of expertise (extensive knowledge) and trustworthiness (lack of hidden motives)
      1. The Indians trusted Gandhi despite it seemed impossible to fight for their rights against the higher authority because
        • Previous achievements and experience spent 20 years fighting for the Indian’s right in Africa against British: showed success
            • experienced in dealing with foreign powers
            • best intention in mind
    1. Law of Liking: In his seminal book Influence: The Psychology of PersuasionProfessor Robert Cialdini (2007) gives six laws or rules which govern how we influence and are influenced by others that people like those who are similar to them

      1. F. B. Evans (1963) used demographic data from insurance company records to demonstrate that prospects were more willing to purchase a policy from a salesperson who was akin to them in age, religion, politics, or even cigarette-smoking habits.
      2. Unlike the other political partners, Gandhi abandoned the life of social elite and lived very modestly in a self-sufficient residential community.  He wore the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl that he hand-spun allows him to win the hearts of the majority of Indians that were made up of peasants
    2. Fear appeals: emotions can be used as strong means to convey message to audience that elicit the cost of losing something that they treasured
      1. Fast to death as a means to protest against the riots between Muslims and Hindus. Both parties decided to burry the hatchet, for the sake of saving the life of such a respected figure like Gandhi due to their own misdemeanor,


Either such psychological persuasion technique were used deliberately or not, Gandhi’s philosophical ideologies has certainly influenced people attitudes, which has been vividly portrayed in the film.


Cialdini, R. B. (2007). Influence: The psychology of persuasion. New York: Collins.

Franzoi, S. L. (2010). Social Psychology (5th ed). New York: Mc Graw Hill.

Wegener, D. T., Petty, R. E., Smoak, N. D., & Fabrigar, L. R. (2004). Multiple routes to resisting attitude change. In E. S. Knowles & J. A. Linn (Eds.), Resistance and persuasion (pp. 13-38). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.


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