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Cognitive Approaches.docx

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Western University
Psychology 3723F/G
Martin Kavaliers

Cognitive Approaches  dominant perspective in attitudes literature  assumes that we evaluate targets based on our beliefs about them  aka cognitive information  example of cognitive perspective on attitude formation comes from a previous lecture on attitude-behaviour consistency  theory of reasoned action  an attitude represents a summary of an individual’s beliefs about the target o beliefs about object’s features creates an attitude towards the subject which causes you to form a behavioural intention regarding the object which will in turn predict your behaviour towards said object.  Cognitive approach especially dominant in the area of persuasion (Attitude change) via persuasive messages  Advertisements  Public health messages  Interpersonal influence  Opinion pieces  E-mail ads  Three programs of research on cognitive factors in persuasion have been most influential: o Yale model of persuasion o Cognitive response theory o Elaboration likelihood model Yale Model of Persuasion  Yale communication research program  Carl Hovland … and others but who cares  Conducted the most systematic analysis of factors affection persuasion ever done  Focused on how people process and retain persuasive messages  Identified variables in persuasion settings that influence success of influence attempt  Identified stages that must occur in order for persuasion to be successful  Identified key elements in persuasive setting (i.e. independent variables):  Source of message  Message itself  Channel in which message is delivered  Audience/target of message  Yale group examined various aspects of each of the elements:  Source: credibility, powerful speech, similarity, attractiveness  Message: 1-sided vs. 2-sided, metaphors, explicit conclusions, order of arguments, fear appeals  Channel: face-to-face vs. written, audio vs. audio-visual  Audience: self-esteem, intelligence, gender  Goal was to determine how to maximize persuasion  Also identified the “steps” or “stages” of persuasion – how a message can ultimately affect attitudes and behaviour (i.e. dependent variables)  Exposure: Presentation of message  Notice: attention to message  Understanding: comprehension of message  Acceptance/persuasion: yielding to message  Memory: retention of message/attitude  Behaviour: action on new attitude  The independent variables can theoretically affect one or more of the dependent variables  E.g. source of attractiveness: o Pay more attention? o More likely to yield? o Better retention? o More likely to act on attitude?  Source credibility  Two components: o Expertise: knowledge, intelligence, training, age, experience o Trustworthiness: honesty, nothing to gain, integrity  In general, more credibility is associated with greater persuasion  Interacts with some other factors i.e. time; “sleeper effect” o Credibility x time o High credibility generally increases persuasion, but over time the effect of credibility weakens o As time passes, the difference between high and low credibility may decrease o Why? People forget the source of the message o o Low credibility generally inhibits persuasion initially, but over time there can be an increase in persuasion – as the person “sleeps” on the message  Hovland & Weiss, 1952 o Participants read an article arguing that the US should NOT develop nuclear submarines o Source of message:  High credibility: Robert Oppenheimer (US scientist)  Low credibility: Pravda (soviet communist newspaper) o Participants’ opposition to submarines was measured:  Immediately  Higher opposition with higher credibility  4 weeks later  averaged out btw sources o Why did it happen?  Dissociation of source and content in memory  P’s in high and low credibility conditions “learned” the content equally, but acceptance was reduced by the low credibility cue  Over time, as the low cred. Cue dissociated from content, content was able to influence attitudes o If dissociation of source and content is responsible, then reinstating credibility information should eliminate the interaction btw credibility and time o If p’s are reminded of credibility information, delayed conditions should be similar to immediate conditions  Kelman & Hovland, 1953 o P’s listened to a message arguing that juvenile delinquents should be treated severely, not compassionately o Speaker was introduced by a moderator, who implied that the speaker was:  High credibility: well-informed and fair  Low credibility: poorly-informed and biased o Ps’ attitudes were measured:  Immediately  3 weeks later o before completing the delayed attitude measure:  reinstatement of credibility: p’s listened to the moderator’s introduction again  no reinstatement of credibility: p’s did not listen to the moderator’s introduction again  with reinstatement, sleeper effects diminished  attempts to produce a true sleeper effect (increased persuasion form low cred source) have often been unsuccessful  Gruder et al. (1978) articulated a set of conditions that are necessary in order for a sleeper effect to be possible (pre- reqs) i. Message must be persuasive  High cred must produce significant immediate attitude change ii. Low cred cue must significantly impair immediate attitude change  Low cred p’s must process the message iii. E.g. cue should be provided after the messge  Discounting cue must be forgotten by delayed measure iv. Delay must be significant  High credibility delayed attitude change must be significantly greater that low credibility immediate attitude change v. High cred delayed is the ceiling for low cred delayed  Powerful vs. Powerless Speech  Disclaimers o “I haven’t thought about this a lot, but…” o you probably know more about this than I do, but…” o imply that the speaker’s comments are preliminary and may not be valid  hedges: o “I guess” o “maybe” o Indicate a lack of confidence o Imply that the speaker is uncertain about the accuracy of his/her information  Speech hesitations: o “uh” o “well,…” o indicate nervousness o may imply deceptiveness  polite forms: o “please consider…” o “thank you for your attention…” o imply low status o indicate uncertainty  Erikson, 1978 o P’s received background information about a civil damages trial o Then either read a written transcript or listened to an audiotape of the testimony of a witness o Content of the witness’s testimony was taken from a real trial o Witness supported the person who was suing the defendant for damages, so if the witness was credible and influential, then p’s should have awarded larger damages to the plaintiff o Witness used either powerless speech or powerful speech  “approximately how long did you stay there before the ambulance arrived?  Powerless: “oh, it seems like it was about, uh, twenty minutes. Just long enough to help my friend Mrs. Davis, you know, get straightened out”  Powerful: “twenty minutes. Long enough to help get Mrs. Davis straightened out”  Do you think Mrs. Davis appreciated your help?  Powerless: “yes, I guess I do”  Powerful: “yes” o After reading the background information and then reading or listening to the witness’s testimony, p’s rated the credibility of the witness and estimated the amount of damages that should be awarded to the plaintiff o Results:  P’s rated the witness as more credible when using powerful speech  P’s awarded larger damages to the plaintiff when the witness used powerful speech Cognitive Response Theory  Grew out of Message Learning Approach  Perhaps most influential early theorist was Anthony Greenwald (1968)  Worked with productive graduate who conducted many of the best-known studies testing cognitive response theory  Assumed that people’s responses to a persuasive message are determined by their cognitive responses to the message – the thoughts they have in response to the message  His approach contrasted with motivational perspectives like dissonance theory  Proarguments: Favorable thoughts about message or source  Counterarguments: Unfavorable thoughts about message or source o If a message produces mostly proarguments, persuasion will occur, whereas if it produces mostly counterarguments, persuasion will not occur  Conditions that foster proarguments will increase persuasion  Conditions that foster counterarguments will inhibit persuasion  Most obvious factor: argument strength o Strong arguments tend to produce proarguments o Weak arguments tend to produce counterarguments o Factors that enhance these responses will enhance persuasion or resistance  What factors will enhance responses to strong or weak arguments?  Repetition of
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