Discuss the relationship between persuasion and attitude change- Hovland Yale Model

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`Discuss the relationship between persuasion and attitude change' 9 + 16
Hovland Yale Model plan
The Hovland Yale Model (HYM) is a model of persuasion, showing how the media can
persuade an audience to change their attitudes. Hovland found that effective persuasion
could be achieved by focusing on `who says what to whom', so the model is therefore split
into three main sections- source factors (who the message comes from), message factors
(what the content of the message is), and audience factors (who the message aims to
It was found that if the source of the message is an expert, this is effective for persuasion as
they are more credible than non-experts. Popular and attractive sources are also more
effective than unpopular and unattractive sources. In research into source effectiveness,
Bochner and Insko asked students how much sleep they believed was required for good
health. They were then given an expert opinion and a non-expert opinion on the same topic,
and it was found that they were more likely to be persuaded by the expert source, even
when their own opinion was drastically different. This research suggests that the model is
correct and credible sources are effective in persuasion and attitude change. However this
study only used a student sample, making it difficult to generalise the results to the rest of
the population. It was also low in mundane realism, as people are generally not persuaded in
this way in everyday life, weakening the support this study gives to the HYM.
The message itself is more effective when people think it is not intended to persuade, as
people do not like to be told what to do. The message should also not be too fear-inducing,
or the content may be lost, and if too little fear is included then the message does not
motivate the audience- a moderate level of fear is most effective for persuasion. Lewis at al
showed participants two drink driving adverts and then gave them a questionnaire assessing
pre-exposure and post-exposure attitudes. A second questionnaire was given 4 weeks later
to assess attitudes and behaviour. It was found that fear-inducing adverts were more
effective in short term and positive adverts were more effective in the long term. This
research suggests that fear-inducting adverts only work in the short term, and medium fear
levels are the most effective for prolonged attitude change. However, this research used a
self-report technique in using questionnaires which leads to the risk of social desirability bias
affecting the results- participants may have wanted to seem like they had taken on the
message of not drinking and driving to seem more responsible, or alternatively that they had
not been intimidated by the fear levels in the adverts. The validity of the second
questionnaire can also be questioned, as it was given 4 weeks after seeing the advert- there
could be issues with memory and distortion of the original message.
The audience must be considered in persuasion. It is suggested that high and low intelligence
audiences are harder to persuade than those of moderate intelligence. This is because low
intelligence audiences are less likely to be able to follow the content of the message, and
high intelligence audiences already have their own views and are confident in them.
Presenting both sides of an argument is thought to be most effective for persuading high
intelligence audiences. Audience involvement must also be considered. Igartua researched
the effect of audience involvement levels on persuasion. Fictional stories were used to
illustrate a HIV/AIDS prevention campaign and it was found that the better quality of story,
the more cognitive processing was induced, and the more favourable attitude to preventive
behaviour was stimulated. This research suggests that low involvement can be dealt with by
inserting the message within an entertainment context. This research has real-world

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