Attitudes and Persuasion: Classic and Contemporary Approaches

By Richard E. Petty; John T. Cacioppo | Go to book overview
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little attention to the arguments, and little attitude change would result. If the cue is introduced after the message, however, it comes at a time when you may have already done a considerable amount of thinking about the communication. In chapter 8 we specifically address the issue of how knowledge of the source can affect how a person thinks about the message arguments.


In this chapter, we have focused on a second major approach that developed to attitudes and persuasion. This approach, which was advanced by Carl Hovland and his associates at Yale University during the 1940s and 1950s, postulates that message learning is a fundamental determinant of attitude change. These researchers examined how different variables (e.g., source, message, recipient, channel) affected a person's attention to, comprehension of, yielding to, and retention of the arguments contained in a persuasive message. The working assumption underlying this approach was that message learning portended attitude change, particularly when incentives were provided in the persuasive message for accepting the recommended position. In the remaining chapters of this book, we discuss some of the judgmental, motivational, and cognitive processes that influence attitudes and persuasion. These processes often uniquely transform objective stimuli (e.g., the message arguments) into a more comfortable, functional, or meaningful psychological reality for the individual. The later approaches to persuasion owe much to the important work by Hovland and his associates, who identified a large number of important factors and interesting effects in persuasion. The subsequent approaches evolved in most instances to explain more simply, completely, and/or accurately the psychological processes underlying these effects (e.g., message repetition enhancing persuasion) and to specify in greater detail the circumstances that would lead to their emergence, nonemergence, and reversal.

Asch ( 1948) has provided an alternative account of this prestige-suggestion effect. He posits that the nature of the source actually alters how people interpret the recommendation. In other words, he proposes that the recommendation is perceived to mean something more favorable when it comes from a prestigious rather than a nonprestigious source. Whether or not the context in which something is presented can affect its meaning ("meaning shift") is currently the subject of much controversy ( Kaplan, 1975; Ostrom, 1977; Zanna & Hamilton, 1977).
In chapters 5 and 6, we shall describe circumstances in which a compliant behavior can cause a person to internalize a new and consistent attitude.


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