The Perceived Impact of Persuasive Messages on "Us" and "Them"
Julie M. Duck Michael A. Hogg Deborah J. Terry University of Queensland
The mass media potentially play a significant role in shaping attitudes and behavior, not only through coverage of persuasive advertising campaigns that are specifically designed to influence the audience but also through the portrayal--in entertainment, news, and current affairs programs--of people, their opinions, and behavior. Moreover, apart from the direct, persuasive effects of media content on attitudes and behavior; people's beliefs or assumptions about media influences on others also may have a substantial indirect effect. That is, attitudinal and behavioral change may arise from the perception that the opinions of others have been influenced by the media. This chapter reviews research that deals not with the direct effects of persuasive messages on people's attitudes and behavior but with the indirect effects that result from people's beliefs about the impact of persuasive messages on others. Specifically, we describe research on the third-person effect ( Davison, 1983) in which people expect the media, and persuasive communications in general, to have a greater effect on others than on themselves.
Against a dominant tendency to treat persuasive communication and social influence within groups as separate areas of inquiry, recent research has sought to re-emphasize the role of social groups in the persuasion process (see Mackie, Gastardo-Conaco, & Skelly, 1992; Mackie, Worth, & Asuncion, 1990; McGarty, Haslam, Hutchinson, & Turner, 1994; van Knippenberg &