Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Library and Information Science, Organizational Communication


This study utilized Steven R. Wilson’s (1999) cognitive rules model to analyze persuasion goals in American religious sermons that address obligation situations as well as the information used to support these goals. We coded a purposive sample of thirty sermons that were given in 2013 and 2014, gathered from an extensive sermon database, for evidence of goals and information use. Qualitative content analysis of these sermons revealed rich descriptions of several types of pastors based on their use of persuasion goals in addressing each topic. Analysis supports the claim that the activation of a goal likely occurs after the selection of sermon topic and is strongly affected by that topic. Analysis also found that the Bible was used as an information source in a larger number of sermons than other sources but accounted for a smaller percentage of the total sermon text, possibly an indication that the Bible needs less explanation, as it represents a shared information source that congregants are expected to know already.