Attitude Change and Social Influence

Attitude Change and Social Influence

Attitude Change and Social Influence

Attitude Change and Social Influence

Excerpt

How are people's minds changed? Who changes, and why? These questions are not new. For centuries principles of rhetoric based on logic and insight have been taught to students, speakers, and writers. Reformers, politicians, policemen, propagandists, educators, club members, and others have always been concerned with the conditions under which people can be influenced to accept new ideas and to cast off old ways of thought. Only within the past twenty years, however—since World War II— have the principles and assumptions gathered through experience and common-sense observation been put to the test of controlled research.

The present volume brings together and summarizes much of the evidence that research has provided on the general topics of attitude change and social influence. In a sense it records progress toward a scientific analysis of rhetoric through the investigation of basic psychological processes. Most of the research cited applies precise, controlled experimentation to the study of the principal areas in the field of persuasion, analyzing the effectiveness of arguments and appeals, the personality factors underlying the acceptance of influence, the effects of social roles and interactions, and similar issues, in terms of principles of learning, perception, motivation, and cognition. Although the investigators whose research we shall examine differ considerably in their theoretical orientations and in the specific problems they have chosen to study, they are all concerned with the modification of attitudes and beliefs through communication and social interaction and with the relevance of the principles thus derived for social influence in everyday life.

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