Persuasion, Attitude and Change

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  • Created on: 08-03-11 19:26

Persuasion and Attitude Change

The Hovland-Yale Model of Attitude Change

- Attitudes must change in order to create a behavioural change. (According to Schwerin and Newell, 1981).

- Hovland's team discovered that effective persuasion (the process of changing attitudes to change behaviour has led to research in 'persuasion') could be achieved by focusing on who says what to whom.

- the communicator (who), the persuasive message (what) and the audience (whom).

Findings from Hovland et al.:

  • Source factors (who) - Experts are more credible therefore more effective than non-experts. Popular and attractive sources are more effective.

- Morton and Campbell (2008) examined peers' attitudes towards unfamiliar autistic child. Children received information about child from different 'sources'. e.g. parent, teacher, doctor. Children reported more favourable attitudes to child when information was provided by an expert, e.g. doctor.

  • Message factors (what) - Messages are more effective if we think they are not intended to persuade. A message can be more effective if it creates a moderate level of fear.

- Lewis et al., (2008), participants viewed 2 drink driving advertisements and completed 2 questionnaires. 1st assessed pre-exposure attitudes and behaviour and immediate post-exposure attitudes and intentions. 2nd (2-4 weeks later) assessed attitudes and behaviour. Fear arousing messages were most effective after immidiate exposure but long term attitude change was more likely with positive (e.g. humourous) campaigns.

  • Audience factors (whom) - Low and high intelligence audiences are less easily persuaded than those with moderate intelligence. With intelligent audiences, presenting both sides of an argument is more effective.

- Igartua et al., (2003), audience with high involvement react differently to those with low involvement when exposed to a persuasive message.

Methodological problems

  • Cannot generalise from samples typically used in these studies (students, army personnel occassionally). (These groups have an age, wealth and education untypical of the general population).
  • Experimenters likely to cut off other stimuli and demand full participant attention, not real-life.

Elaboration-likelihood Model of Attitude Change

Suggests 2 different routes to persuasive communication:

Central Route

  • Used if an audience is likely to focus on the arguments, e.g. if the content of the message is personally important or involving.
  • Audience motivated to think about the message --> focus on quality of arguments --> lasting attitude change.
  • Cacioppo and Petty (1982) suggested some people enjoy analysing arguments (high need for cognition). More likely to focus on quality rather than context of arguments. 

Peripheral Route

  • Used if an audience focuses more on the context of the message than the message itself.
  • Audience not motivated to think about the message --> focus on peripheral factors --> temporary attitude change.
  • Fiske and Taylor (1984) said most people are cognitive misers (frequently rely on simple and time-efficient strategies when evaluating information and making decisions).

Need for Cognition (NC)

- Haugtvedt et al., (1992), central route is more effective for high NC individuals.

Real-life Application

- Vidrine et al., (2007), 227 student smokers, fact based leaflet on smoking - high NC…


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