Chapter Eight: Persuasion

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University of Massachusetts Amherst
Psychology & Brain Sciences
John Bickford

Social Psychology Chapter Eight: Persuasion The Utilitarian Function of Attitudes: Utilitarian function, attitudes alert us to rewarding objects we should approach and to costly or punishing objects we should avoid. When your attitudes towards goal-relevant objects are positive, you are more likely to engage in goal-relevant behavior. Attitudes can be altered through consumer products, persuasive messages and other emotionally arousing stimuli. The Ego-defensive Function of Attitudes: Ego-defensive function, protects us from unpleasant facts or emotions.  We do this in order to maintain cherished beliefs about ourselves and our world Conservatives are resistant to change and believe in the endorsement of inequality. They show higher levels of fear than others and show less interest in new technological innovations. They gravitate toward beliefs tat envision a structured and orderly world. The Value-Expressive Function of Attitudes: Value-expression function, captures a more social dimension of attitudes: that attitudes help us express our most cherished values, usually in values can be supported and reinforced. Reference groups, groups whose opinions matter to us and that affect our opinions and beliefs  This is the idea behind why people choose between being a Democrat or Republican so early to express the values of the family The Knowledge Function of Attitudes: Knowledge function, attitudes help organize our understanding of the world. Attitudes make us more efficient and sometimes more biased.  Our attitudes lead us to seek out and selectively attend to information that bolsters out preexisting attitudes Two-Processes Approach to Persuasion: 1. Heuristic-systematic model of persuasion, maintains that there are two different routes of persuasion; the systematic route and the heuristic route  Peripheral (heuristic) route, people attend to relatively simple, superficial cue related to the message, such as the length of the message or the expertise or attractiveness of the communicator  little thought is given to the message  Elaboration likelihood model, maintains that there are two different routes of persuasion; the central route and the peripheral route  Central (systematic) route, 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 On the Central Route to make persuasion more likely… 1. the personal relevance of the message 2. our knowledge about the issue 3. whether the message makes us feel responsible for some action or outcome These are more enduring attitudes and effects are more pronounced. On the Peripheral Route to make persuasion more likely… 1. reduce our motivation 2. interfere with our ability to attend to the message carefully Source Characteristics: Independent of the actual content of the message and can be powerful means for changing people’s attitudes. Attractiveness, which is why attractive people tend to be the spokespeople for certain organizations.  Attractiveness works through peripheral persuasion  Attractive spokespeople are particularly persuasive to people for whom the message is not important and who have little knowledge of the topic Credibility, combination of expertise and trustworthiness of the communicator. The sleeper effect, messages from unreliable sources exert little influence initially but over time have the potential to shift people’s attitudes.  Over time people disassociate the source of the message from the message itself  When cues that challenge the noncredible source precedes the message the sleeper effect does not occur Message Characteristics: Message Chara
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