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Chapter 8

PSYC215 Chapter 8 Summary (Bona Kim).docx

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PSYC 215
John Lydon

Bona Kim PSYC215 Chapter Summary CHAPTER 8 - Persuasion (pgs. 273-305) FUNCTIONS OF ATTITUDES - Attitudes guide behavior. They also serve 4 other functions: o 1. Utilitarian function: signaling rewards and punishments o 2. Ego-Defensive function: protecting people from undesirable beliefs and emotions o 3. Value-Expressive function: reflecting values that people want others, especially their reference groups to acknowledge o 4. Knowledge function: organizing how people construe the social world and guiding how people attend to, store and retrieve information The Utilitarian Function of Attitudes - utilitarian function: alert us to rewarding objects we should approach and to costly or punishing objects we should avoid o often activated by our current goals and trigger actions that help us pursue our goals o Ex: if you have the goal is to get a good grade on your psychology exam, then you attitudes toward objects relevant to achieving this goal should become more positive o this change can occur automatically, even if you do not consciously decide to evaluate the library positively - when your attitudes toward goal-relevant objects are positive, you are more likely to engage in goal-relevant behavior - attitudes make us evaluatively ready to achieve the goals that matter to us - our food preferences also illustrate the utilitarian function of attitudes o our dietary likes and dislikes help us eat foods that are beneficial to survival and avoid foods that are potentially dangerous o preference for sweet foods helps us identify foods of nutritional value, such as foods that provide vitamin C which humans do not synthesize in the body o our distaste for bitter foods help us avoid the toxins that tend in nature to taste bitter o women are particularly sensitive to bitter tastes and pungent smells during the first trimester of pregnancy. Their experience of “morning sickness” prevents them from eating these foods and thus protects the fetus from being exposed to dangerous toxins - the idea that attitudes serve utilitarian functions has helped shed light on why humans prefer certain natural settings in different parts of the world o evolutionary psychologists have reasoned that people prefer landscapes that have water, lush trees and bushes, semi-open space, ground cover, and distant views to the horizon o these kinds of environments offered our ancestors reliable sources of water, opportunities for hunting animals and gathering food, shelter and the means to detect and hide from predators o we have positive attitudes toward these kinds of environments today because of the evolutionary advantages these attitudes conferred - advertisers use the utilitarian function of attitudes o researchers have shown that attitudes toward fairly neutral objects can be modified by pairing that object with a stimulus that generates a strong positive/negative reaction  ads that use animals, babies or sexually alluring young women and men are more likely to sell products than those that use less intrinsically rewarding objects such as cartoons or historical figures The Ego-Defensive Function of Attitudes - ego-defensive function: protecting us from unpleasant facts or emotions - we develop certain attitudes to maintain cherished beliefs about ourselves or our world - one way we protect our valued beliefs is addressed in terror management theory o our fear of dying leads us to adopt or cling to attitudes that reflect cultural worldviews out of a belief that if we so, part of us will survive death Bona Kim PSYC215 Chapter Summary o research has shown that when mortality is somehow made salient, people tend to exhibit more positive evaluations of their own group vs. other groups, greater patriotism, increased religious conviction, greater conformity to cultural standards, and a greater inclination to punish moral transgressors - John Jost et al. argued that political conservatism is a form of motivated or ego-defensive cognition that helps people ward off certain anxieties o Identify two core values to political conservatism o 1. Resistance to change. Conservatives express greater doubts about any changes o 2. Endorsement of equality. Conservatives are more willing to accept these as inequalities o these core values are attempts to manage fear and uncertainty o conservatives  consistently show higher levels of fear than others  they judge the world to be a more dangerous place  react more quickly to danger-related words  even more prone to nightmares  show less interest in new technological innovations, unfamiliar music, changes in job requirements, o to ward off fear and uncertainty, conservatives gravitate to attitudes and beliefs that envision a structured and orderly world, and this behavior gives rise to their core values - resistance to change and tolerance of inequality The Value-Expressive Function of Attitudes - value-expressive function: attitudes help us express our most cherished values, usually in groups where these values can be supported or reinforced (more social dimension) o reference groups: groups whose opinions matter to us and affect our opinions and beliefs - accounts for a variety of phenomena o our commitment to the idea that people in our reference groups can even lead to certain forms of bias: within political groups, people tend to overestimate the similarity between their own attitudes and the attitudes of their leaders - Theodore Newcomb study of student attitudes at Bennington College (an isolated, experimental liberal arts college in Vermont) o The school was left-leaning in its politics and run by liberal professors o Studied all 600 students who attended this school - they were largely from upper- class, Protestant, Republican families o The experience at this school shaped the students’ political attitudes in a lasting way o In a 4yr period, most students’ political conservatism changed dramatically and played out in voting preferences st  1 year students were much more likely to prefer the Republican candidate  4 year students, the Democratic or radical left-wing candidate o 25 years later had a follow up study of 129 students  60% of these former students voted for the more liberal presidential candidate  the changes these women underwent during college stayed with them throughout their lives The Knowledge Function of Attitudes - knowledge function: attitudes help organize our understanding of the world o guide what we attend to and remember o make us more efficient, and sometimes more biased, perceivers of the complex social situations we experience o typically, we pay attention to and recall information that is consistent with our preexisting attitudes Bona Kim PSYC215 Chapter Summary - Lepper, Ross, Vallone, and keavney o 3 groups watched a videotape of a debate between the 2 candidates during the 1980 campaign o answered “Who won the debate?” Students’ preexisting attitudes led partisans to very different conclusions about who won o G1: Supporters of Jimmy Carter: thought he won o G2: Ronald Reagan: thought he won o G3: undecided voters: were split, although more said Reagan won - Our attitudes lead us to seek out and selectively attend to information that bolsters our preexisting attitudes - Our preexisting attitudes about a person or group of individuals lead us to selectively recall information that is consistent with those beliefs and attitudes - We like physically attractive individuals and interpret their actions more favourably - Prejudicial attitudes toward different outgroups lead us to interpret the actions of members of those groups negatively, in ways that are consistent with our prejudices PERSUASION AND ATTITUDE CHANGE A Two-Process Approach to Persuasion - two important theoretical models were developed in the 1980s to explain how people change their attitudes in response to persuasive messages o 1. Shelly Chaiken’s heuristic-systematic model of persuasion o 2. Richard Petty and John Cacioppo’s elaboration likelihood model (ELM) - both hypothesize that there are two routes to persuasion o 1. Central systematic route  think carefully and deliberately about the msg’s content: attend to the logic and cogency of the arguments contained in the message, the evidence and principles that are cited, retrieve relevant experiences, memories, and images  all of this elaborate thinking can lead the individual to change an attitude or not based on the arguments presented. Brings attitude change that is more enduring, more resistant to persuasion. And more predictive of behaviour  More persuaded by high quality messages  3 factors that make the central route to persuasion more likely:  1. Personal relevance of the message (our goals, concerns and well-being)  2. When they have knowledge in the domain (the more we know, the more likely we are to scrutinize the message with thoughtfulness)  3. When the message evokes a sense of personal responsibility o 2. Peripheral heuristic route  attend to superficial aspects of the message that are tangential to its substance - how long the message is or how expert the communicator seems  reliance on pretty simple communication heuristics to justify attitude change  might change the individual’s basic emotional reaction to the attitude object that is the focus of the persuasive message  persuaded by source characteristics such as how many arguments there are and whether the conclusions are explicit  3 factors that make the peripheral route to persuasion more likely when we:  1. Have little motivation, time  2. Interfere with our ability to attend to the message carefully - 2 factors of determining which route is used: o 1. Motivation to devote time and energy/how important is it to the person  when the message has personal consequences for us, we are more likely to go through the central route and carefully work through the arguments o 2. Ability to process the message in depth  when the message is clear and we have sufficient time, we are able to process it deeply Bona Kim PSYC215 Chapter Summary - to test the ELM approach to persuasion, researchers typically first generate strong and weak arguments to an issue and then present these strong and weak arguments as part of a msg o vary the potency of various peripheral cues associated with the message such as the number of arguments offered, the communicator’s fame o typically vary a factor, such as the personal relevance of the issue, to manipulate the likelihood that the individual will process the message centrally or peripherally o if participants process the message via the central route: they should be influenced mainly by the strong and not the weak arguments o the strength of the arguments should be less important for individuals who are attending only to peripheral cues - consider one study that varied the strength of the arguments, the relevance of the issue and a peripheral cue, the expertise of the source of the persuasive message o the study: participants read either 8 week arguments or 8 strong arguments in support of a comprehensive exam to be implemented at their school o personal relevance was manipulated by notifying the participants that this exam would be initiated wither the following year (which would mean the participants would have to take the exam) or in 10 years o source expertise was varied: half of the participants were told the arguments were generated by a local high school class, and half were told the arguments were generated by a Princeton University professor o results: when the message was not relevant to the students (10yrs), the expertise of the source mattered, but the strength of the argument didn’t matter as much. o Those participants who would have to take the exam, the message was relevant and were more persuaded by strong than by weak arguments, but they were less influenced by whether the communicator was an expert o HIGH PERSONAL RELEVANCE led participants to be persuaded by the STRENGTH OF THE ARGUMENTS o LOW PERSONAL RELEVANCE led participants to be persuaded by SOURCE EXPERTISE - both ELM and HSM argue that persuasion variables such as argument strength and source expertise are not tied to a single route of persuasion o persuasion variables can serve multiple roles, affecting persuasion through either the central systematic, or peripheral heuristic route depending on the circumstances o expertise of the source often changes people’s attitudes to the peripheral route o if people are highly motivated and have the ability to think carefully, source expertise could function as an argument whose strength is evaluated:  if its strength is judged to be high, persuasion is enhanced  if strength is perceived to be low, persuasion is hindered o source expertise could also affect persuasion through the central route by biasing the thoughts people generate about an attitude object or issue - Elements of the persuasive process broken into three components o 1. The source of the message o 2. The content of the message o 3. The target of the message Source Characteristics (independent of the actual content of the message) Attractiveness - attractive communicators can promote attitude change through the peripheral route o we like and trust physically attractive people and thus make us more likely to endorse the attitudes they communicate - research suggests that attractive communicators are more persuasive o could lead to persuasion through the central route by increasing the favorability of people’s effortful thinking about the position they are endorsing o particularly persuasive to people for whom the message is not important and who have little knowledge in the domain, circumstances that make people more likely to attend to peripheral cues like a source’s attractiveness Bona Kim PSYC215 Chapter Summary Credibility - refers to the combination of expertise and trustworthiness of the communicator - HIGH CREDIBILITY = produce more persuasion when the topic is of little personal interest to the target or when the target is distracted (not paying attention to the message itself) - A target who happens to be highly motivated and able to think carefully may still be susceptible to source credibility o Target may interpret the high credibility of the source as a strong argument in favour of changing his/her attitude toward the position the credible source is endorsing The Sleeper Effect - Hovland and Weiss conducted a study o Participants first rated the likelihood that a nuclear submarine would be built in the near future (at the time they did not exist) o 5 days later, they read an essay about the imminence of nuclear submarines and were told it was written by either a highly credible physicist, or by a noncredible journalist o HIGH CREDIBILITY = MORE ATTITUDE CHANGE despite the same content o 4 weeks later, they read the essay by the noncredible journalist and they shifted their attitudes toward the position he advocated o a noncredible source is unlikely to induce immediate attitude change but with time a sleeper effect might occur in which attitude change occurs after time has passed and the message has become dissociated from its source - Anthony Pratkanis, Tony Greenwald et al. identified how the sleeper effect works o It seems that over time, people dissociate the source of the message from the message o when cues that challenge the noncredible source precedes the message = NO SLEEPER EFFECT (i.e. when the trustworthiness of the communicator is called into question) o people develop a negative reaction to the ensuing message and counterargue against it, thus reducing its impact Message Characteristics Message Quality - High quality messages o more persuasive in general and are especially so for people who find the message relevant, who have knowledge in the domain, and feel responsible for the issue o convey the desirable yet novel consequences of taking action in response to the msg o Often appeal to core values of the audience, straightforward, clear and logical - in general, you will produce more attitude change if you make your conclusions explicit and if you explicitly refute the opposition, thereby giving the receiver the message material to use in counter arguing against subsequent opposing messages - When someone argues in the direction contrary to obvious self-interest, the source of the message is more persuasive and will be perceived to be more sincere o Walster, Arronson, and Abrahams found that a message delivered by a prison mate advocating longer prison sentences was more persuasive than a message in which the same prisoner argued for shorter sentences Vividness - Hamil, Wilson and Nisbett: vivid info embedded in a personal narrative with emotional appeal can be more persuasive than statistical facts that are objectively more informative o Researchers first assessed participants’ attitudes toward welfare in 3 conditions o C1: participants read a vivid story about a woman who exploited the system and was a lifetime welfare recipient living as life of comfort and leisure o C2: participants were given facts about welfare: avg stay was 2 yrs, and only 10% of welfare recipients received welfare for 4 years or more o C3: participants were given both. It should have been clear that the case they read about was quite atypical of welfare recipients o Results: the facts didn’t alter their attitude much - they were more likely to change their attitudes after hearing the vivid story - identifiable victim effect: vivid, flesh and blood victims are often more powerful sources of persuasion than abstract statistics than matter-of-fact ones Bona Kim PSYC215 Chapter Summary Fear - intense fear could disrupt the careful thoughtful processing of the message, thus reducing the chances of persuasion; the right kind of fear might heighten the participant’s motivation to attend to the message, thus increasing the likelihood of attitude change - Howard Leventhal et al. tried to change the smoking habits of participants in 1 of 3 ways o G1: shown a graphic film of the effects of lung cancer, which included footage of a lung operation in which the blackened lung of a smoker was removed o G2: given a pamphlet with suggestions about how to quit smoking o G3: shown the film and given the pamphlet. This group decreased their smoking most - fear evoking messages that provide fear reducing courses of action produce more attitude change than either non-fear evoking or fear-evoking without fear-reducing courses of action Culture - message content often varies in independent and interdependent societies - ads in independent cultures emphasize the individual - ads in interdependent societies emphasize the collective - Sang-Pil Han and Sharon Shavitt analyzed the advertisements in American and Korean news magazines and women’s magazines and found that o American ads emphasized benefits to the individual, o Korean ads focused on benefits to collectives o conducted other experiments where they manipulated the content of ads and measured their effectiveness  individual-oriented ads were more effective with American participants and that the collective-oriented ads were more effective with Korean participants Receiver Characteristics - the target, or audience of a message also affects whether a particular message is effective and whether attitude change occurs Need for Cognition - refers to the degree to which people like to think deeply about things - HIGH in need for cognition like to think, ponder and consider multiple perspectives on issues - LOW in need for cognition don’t find thought and contemplation to be fun - People with a high need for cognition are more persuaded by high-quality arguments and are relatively unmoved by peripheral cues of persuasion Mood - studies have found that people who were exposed to persuasive messages while eating or listening to beautiful music were more likely to change their attitudes, presumably through the peripheral route of persuasion - can affect persuasion through the central route also o Duane Wegener and Richard Petty suggests that persuasive efforts through the central route are more likely to be successful when the mood of the message matches the mood of the receiver o more pessimistic, counter attitudinal messages tend to prompt greater message processing in sad or depressed people, whereas uplifting, optimistic, pro-attitudinal messages prompt greater message processing in happy people Age - younger people are more susceptible to persuasive messages than adults or elderly - peripheral route is likely to be more effective for younger audiences - young age group is quite malleable in its political allegiances - relying on children as witnesses in legal cases if their attitudes can be altered by motivated attorneys and misleading questions - David Sears draws on this link between age and susceptibility to persuasion o most studies of attitude change involve participants who are students in their first few years of college (at a developmental stage that is very dynamic and are particularly prone to attitude change). He concludes that the persuasion literature overestimates the extent to which our attitudes can be changed by would-be-persuaders Bona Kim PSYC215 Chapter Summary THE MEDIA AND PERSUASION - according to the third-person effect, most people believe that other people are more likely to be influenced by the media than them because they don’t have their powers of restraint and rational analysis - in one study, participants judged the likely impact of three media presentations on themselves and on other respondents o for all three presentations (a political ad campaign, a story about levels of violence portrayed in the media, and a campaign designed to deter people from associating with individuals who drink and drive), participants rated others as more likely to be influenced than themselves The 3 Cases of Surprisingly Weak (or nonexistent) Effects of the Media 1. Consumer Advertising - when researchers looked at the correlation between the ad budget of a product and its market share they have found a very weak or nonsignificant correlation -
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