Cognitive Responses in Persuasion

By Richard E. Petty; Thomas M. Ostrom et al. | Go to book overview
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Anticipatory Opinion Effects

Robert B. Cialdini Arizona State University

Richard E. Petty University of Missouri-Columbia

Most of the research described in previous chapters of this book involved an examination of what happens to one's opinions after a persuasive message on some topic has been encountered. Sometimes the messages come from external sources, and sometimes (as in the active participation experiments described in Chapter 1) the person constructs his or her own communication. But in each case, the focus is on what happens after the communication has been received. The work to be covered in the present chapter, however, involves a different question: What are the effects of simply expecting to have to deal with a persuasive communication? For example, if the President of the United States wanted to convince the public that taxes should be raised, would he be more effective if the public were forewarned of his position, or if his message took them by surprise?

There is considerable evidence that the mere anticipation of presenting or receiving acommunication can produce reliable opinion effects, and under some conditions these effects can be comparable in size to those resulting from the actual receipt of a persuasive attack. Compared with the long history of research on the effects of a message upon attitude, the literature describing the influence of an expectation upon attitude is relatively recent, beginning systematically in the early, 1960s. Nonetheless, a substantial number of studies have since investigated anticipatory effects, so that we now know quite a bit about them. It seems a proper initial step, then, to begin with a description of what it is that we now know about the phenomenon of anticipatory effects in persuasion.


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