The influence of gender and power on persuation: a study of pharmaceutical sales representatives' interaction with medical personnel



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Texas Tech University


Sex and gender research attempts to answer two questions: (1) Are there any differences between men and women? and (2) If so, why do these differences exist (Lips, 1997)? Answering these questions not only contributes to further understanding of the sexes, but also helps identify how we, as citizens, can produce competent communication, that is communication that is both effective in achieving goals and appropriate to the persons present and the situation (Spitzberg & Cupach, 1984).

The medical context presents many opportunities to observe and analyze the influences gender and power may have on how messages are constructed and perceived. Health professionals often work in small groups called health care teams in order to reap the benefits of "people . . . working together for a goal" (Kreps & Thornton, 1984). The Health care teams may include physicians, nurses, receptionists, patients, pharmacists, and pharmaceutical sales representatives- all team members working to provide quality patient care. In ths office setting, the physician is often regarded as the group leader and source of medical knowledge. Concurrently, nurses and receptionists perform the role of a "gatekeeper" (pp.131-132). Along with their other medical responsibilities, nurses and receptionists facilitate interaction between some group members while blocking interaction between other members. In order to maintain a positive socio-emotional climate in the group, they must monitor the communication in order to avoid any negative influences on the communication process.