Attitudes and Persuasion: Classic and Contemporary Approaches

By Richard E. Petty; John T. Cacioppo | Go to book overview
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the speed-of-speech effect then? Miller et al. argued that subjects inferred that a fast-talker knows what he is talking about (i.e., is credible), and the enhanced persuasion is due simply to this credibility cue. In the next chapter we present a model of persuasion that specifies the antecedents of cognitive responses and takes into account both attitude changes resulting from effortful thought processes and those resulting from peripheral cues in the persuasion situation.


In this chapter we have focused on the persuasive impact of information that originates internally. This self-generated information can result from a specific role-playing request, from merely thinking about an attitude object, or from specific cognitive responses to the arguments in a persuasive message. Depending on the nature of these self-generated thoughts, a person's attitude can become either more positive or more negative toward the attitude object. Self-persuasion is so potent because people appear to have a higher regard for the information they generate themselves than information that originates externally, and people can better remember arguments that originate internally than externally. Although the self-persuasion approach emphasizes attitude changes that result from a thoughtful consideration of issue-relevant arguments, it is clear that some attitude changes occur without much effortful cognitive activity. In the final chapter of this text we examine both kinds of persuasion and specify the likely determinants of each.

One yet untested possibility is that active role players may generate arguments that they do not end up presenting in their improvised talks. The role-players may therefore actually have been exposed to more arguments than the passive controls.
"Schemas" ( Bartlett, 1932) have also been called "cognitive structures" ( Krech & Crutchfield, 1948), "personal constructs" ( Kelley, 1955), "frames" ( Minsky, 1976), "scripts" ( Abelson, 1976), and "themes" ( Lingle & Ostrom, 1981), among other terms.
A procedure for measuring and categorizing a person's cognitive responses to a persuasive message has been developed by Brock ( 1967) and Greenwald ( 1968). The procedure involves giving subjects a specified period of time (e.g., 3 minutes) in which to list the thoughts that they had while reading or listening to the message. Subjects are given a lined sheet of paper on which they are to list one thought per line. These thoughts are then coded by judges as to whether they represent ideas that are favorable or unfavorable to the position advocated in the persuasive communication. This "thought-listing" procedure, as well as other methods for assessing cognitive responses, are described and evaluated in Cacioppo and Petty ( 1981d).


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Attitudes and Persuasion: Classic and Contemporary Approaches


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