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According to the Hovland Yale model we can understand attitude change by a
number of processes such as attention, understanding of the content, reaction
towards it etc. Persuasion is dependent on factors such as the source of
information provided who is giving the message, the message (what is it saying
and how it says it) and the audience that it is targeted towards.
The credibility of the source can be affected by number of factors we are more
likely to believe what someone is saying if they are an expert. For example in
dental adverts dentists are used to make the audience trust their claim. A study
which examined effects of information source on peers' attitude to an unfamiliar
child with autism. Children were told about the child from a parent, teacher or
doctor. Children reported more favourable attitudes toward the child when
information was provided by the doctor, rather than a parent
A message is more effective if it creates a moderate level of fear. Lowfear and
highfear messages do not appear as effective as moderatefear messages.
Low levels of fear do little to motivate the audience but high levels can causes
anxiety which interferes with the ability to process the message.
Participants were shown two advertisements and asked to complete two
questionnaires, the first assessing preexposure attitudes and the second
assessing postexposure attitudes. Feararousing messages were found to be
persuasive in the shortterm, but longterm attitude change is more likely with
Lowintelligence audiences are less likely to process the content of a message
so are less likely to be influenced by it. Highintelligence audiences are more
confident in their views so are harder to persuade, as they would process the
message in depth, so would reject simple one sided arguments, preferring to
hear both sides of an argument before making a decision.
Researchers found that an effective way to deal with low involvement is to insert
messages in an entertainment context. They used fictional stories to illustrate
HIV/AIDS prevention, the better quality the story the more cognitive priming was
induced, and a more favourable attitude towards preventative behaviour was
stimulated. This shows that audience factors are not independent of message
factors, and that by changing the nature of the message, the limitations of the
audience can be overcome.
There is gender bias as research has shown women to be more susceptible to
persuasion, they are more likely to conform. However, the topic used in many
studies is more familiar to men so men have a greater motivation to
counterargue positions than women. Karabeninck found that when the topic
used was more familiar to women, men were more influenced. This shows that
gender bias is due to methodological problems.
It describes steps but doesn't explain how attitude change works: it only focuses
on the steps to persuasion and it doesn't tell us how understanding of a
message causes attitude change.
Some factors have been criticised as the sleeper effect shows that credible
experts speed up attitude change, non credible experts also cause attitude
change but it takes longer.
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Elaboration likelihood model
Researchers suggested two routes to persuasive communication depending on
whether the audience is likely to focus on the message itself o other factors like
whether the source is attractive. If the audience are going to focus on the
message then a central route to persuasion is more appropriate but if the
audience is more likely to focus on the context a peripheral route is more likely to
be effective.…read more