The present book provides a needed survey of a truly remarkable number of different theoretical approaches to the related phenomena of attitude and belief change. Aside from the obvious advantage of summarizing the relevant literature within one source, the book also serves the function of calling our attention to neglected theories, such as variable perspective theory, which are far more deserving of attention than the present level of research activity, or inactivity, would indicate. This is a competent and important book; a book deserving of attention by both beginning and advanced students of attitude and belief change.
In view of Richard Petty and John Cacioppo's impressive and important research within the framework of the cognitive-responses approach to persuasion it is perhaps not surprising that they would write a discerning book. In view of the recent paucity of interest in attitude change, however, what is perhaps more surprising is that there appears to be an increasing receptivity to research and theory in this general area. Interest in attitude change appears to be resurgent. Why is this? Without any claim to certainty, it is possible to point to a number of possible causes. First, as Petty and Cacioppo point out, past skepticism regarding the effect of attitude on behavior has been replaced by the realization that, under some circumstances, at least, attitudes do affect behavior. Second, it may well be that renewed interest in attitude change is fostered to some extent by a more general interest in cognitive processes both within social psychology and other subfields or disciplines. Third, skepticism regarding the external validity of laboratory studies of attitude change has been mitigated by the realization that the large number of "field" studies done with subjects who do not know that they are subjects has not greatly altered our conclusions. It is increasingly recognized that while the demand-characteristics problem, for example, may arise in some circumstances and certainly does need to be guarded against, the problem has been vastly overestimated. Generalized cynicism regarding laboratory findings simply is not justified. Fourth and finally, attitude change as a field may be benefitting from the decline of "anti-establishment" attitudes. During the sixties