The impact of Group Membership on Persuasion: Revisiting "Who Says What to Whom With What Effect?"
Diane M. Mackie Sarah Queller University of California, Santa Barbara
"Who says what to whom with what effect!" For decades of researchers, this question defined how persuasion was studied. Successful influence (effect) could be understood as the end product of an interaction of source variables (who), message variables (what), and audience variables (whom). Although many of the experiments prompted by this approach documented the effectiveness of each kind of variable, these experiments were perhaps most significant in demonstrating the importance of interactions between source and message variables on the one hand and between audience and message variables on the other. For example, high anxiety recipients are more persuaded by low fear appeals whereas low anxiety recipients are more persuaded by high fear appeals ( Goldstein, 1959; Wheatley & Oshikawa, 1970). A credible source loses some perceived expertise if he or she presents weak and specious arguments ( Petty, Cacioppo, & Goldman, 1981). Messages that are consistent with the recipient's opinions are more persuasive if they are one-sided, whereas counterattitudinal messages are more effective if they are two-sided ( Lumsdaine & Janis, 1953).
It is curious that the focus on interactions did not extend to interactions between source and audience. The main source features studied, credibility and attractiveness, tended to be treated as properties inherent in the source, even though the impotence of the audience in conferring those properties