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Chapter 8

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYC 215
Professor
John Lydon
Semester
Winter

Description
Chapter 8 -Our susceptibility to persuasion and our resistance to it. Functions of Attitudes -Attitudes guide behavior, although less powerfully than most people expect. Attitudes have four other functions. The Utilitarian Function of Attitudes -Serve a Utilitarian Function: An attitudinal functions that serves to alert people to rewarding objects and situations they should approach and costly or punishing objects or situations they should avoid. -These attitudes are often activated by our current goals. -Illustrated by our food preferences (attraction to vitamin filled sweet foods and distaste to bitter, toxic foods) -Evolutionary psychologists say we prefer landscape which has water, trees, a far horizon because our ancestors needed this. We have positive attitudes towards this because of the evolutionary advantages these attitudes conferred on those who possessed and acted on them. -People's attitudes towards things can be changed by pairing them with emotionally arousing stimuli like pleasing odours or electric shock. The Ego-Defensive Function of Attitudes -Serve an ego-defensive function: An attitudinal function that enables people to maintain cherished beliefs about themselves and their world by protecting them from contradictory information. -Protects us from unpleasant facts and emotions. -Political conservatism is a form of ego-defensive cognition that helps people ward off certain anxieties (resistance to change and the endorsement of inequality). -Conservative show higher levels of fear than other politicians. The Value-Expressive Function of Attitudes -Value-Expressive Function: An attitudinal function whereby attitudes help people express their most cherished values-usually in groups in which these values can be supported and reinforced. -We join groups, in part, to express our attitudes. These groups are known as our reference groups: Groups whose opinions matter to a person and that affect the person's opinions and beliefs. -People's attitudes can be changed via the groups they're in (even the type of school they attend) The Knowledge Functions of Attitudes -Knowledge Function: An attitudinal function whereby attitudes help organize people's understanding of the world, guiding how they attend to, store and retrieve information. -We pay attention to and recall information that is consistent with our pre-existing attitudes. -Our attitudes sometimes cause us to sacrifice objectivity. Persuasion and Attitude Change -There are multiple routes to persuasion The Two-Process Approach to Persuasion -Developed in the 80's to explain how people change their attitudes in response to persuasion messages. The first is Heuristic-Systematic Model (A model of persuasion that maintains that there are two different routes of persuasion: the systematic route and the heuristic route). The second I Elaboration-Likelihood model (a model of persuasion that maintains that there are two different routes of persuasion: the central route and the peripheral route). The two are quite similar. -ELM: Central (systematic) Route: A persuasive router wherein people think carefully and deliberately about the content of a message, attending to its logic, cogency, and arguments as well as to related evidence and principles. Triggered by the personal relevance of the message, our knowledge about the issue and whether it makes us feel responsible for some action or outcome. -ELM: Peripheral (heuristic) Route: A persuasive router wherein people attend to relatively simple, superficial cues related to the message or the expertise or attractiveness of the communicator. Triggered by factors that reduce our motivation, interfere with our ability to attend to the message carefully, being tired or uncomfortable. -What determines if we use central or peripheral route? Our motivation to devote time and energy to a message. If the message has personal consequences for us we are more likely to go the central route. Another factor is our ability to process the message in depth. Low processibility leads us to peripheral route. -High personal relevance linked to being persuaded by the strengths of the arguments, and low personal relevance led participants to be persuaded by source expertise. Source expertise, though, can have an effect even with high personal relevance. -Best to change peoples' minds through the central route. People attend to the message more carefully and its effects are more pronounced. -Persuasive message has three components: The who (source of message), the what (content of message) and the whom (target of message). Source Characteristics -Within framework of the ELM, can be powerful means for changing people's attitudes. Attractiveness -Even when the presenter has no connection to what they are advocating (for example not doing drugs) attractive communicators can promote attitude change through the peripheral route of persuasion. We like and trust attractive people more. -Can also use central route, for example by increasing the favourability of people's effortful thinking about the position they are endorsing. -Most effective to people for whom the message isn't important or have little knowledge of the domain. Credibility -Combination of expertise and trustworthiness of the communicator. -Such communicators produce more attitude change in circumstances that promote the peripheral route to persuasion. -more effective when the topic has little personal relevance or when the target is distracted and not paying much attention to the message. -Highly motivated and thinking participants can be effected too, because they may interpret the high credibility as a strong argument in favor of changing his attitude toward the position the credible source is endorsing. The Sleeper Effect -Sleeper Effect: An effect that occurs when messages from unreliable sources initially exert little influence but later cause the individual's attitudes to shift. -Over time, people dissociate the source of the message from the message itself. -When cues that challenge the non-credible source precede the message, then the sleeper effect does not occur. Message Characteristics -Message Characteristics: Aspects of the message itself, including the quality of the evidence and the explicitness of its conclusions. Message Quality -High quality messages are more persuasive in general and especially for people who find the message relevant, who have knowledge in the domain and who feel responsible for the issue. -You will produce more attitude change if you make your conclusions explicit and you implicitly refute the opposition. -more persuasive if you argue against your own self-interest (message perceived as more sincere) Vividness -Vivid information embedded in a personal narrative with emotional appeal can be more persuasive
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