Cognitive Responses in Persuasion

By Richard E. Petty; Thomas M. Ostrom et al. | Go to book overview

II
THE ROLE OF COGNITIVE RESPONSES IN ATTITUDE CHANGE PROCESSES

Richard E. Petty University of Missouri-Columbia

In Part I, the cognitive response approach was outlined, techniques for the measurement of attitudes and cognitive responses were described, and the logic of experimentation was discussed. In Part II, the cognitive response approach is used to explain the effects of traditional independent variables on attitude change processes. Each of the chapters in Part II reviews an important area of research in persuasion and notes how a cognitive response analysis has been, or can be, useful in understanding why each independent variable has the effect it does.

The process of persuasion has typically been analyzed in terms of who says what to whom, how, and with what effect ( Lasswell, 1948). "With what effect," of course, refers to whether or not any attitude change has been produced. The other four items serve to identify the four major independent variables in persuasion research. These variables are source (who), message (what), recipient (to whom), and modality (how).

Because the cognitive response approach to persuasion focuses attention on the thoughts that pass through a person's mind as a communication is anticipated, received, or reflected upon, a cognitive response analyst would seek to determine how different variables affected the manner in which a communication was processed. Figure II.1 diagrams one possible cognitive response model of attitude

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