Attitudes and Persuasion
This paper outlines recent advances in the study of attitudes and persuasion within the field of contemporary social psychology with emphasis on today’s work for deep seated issues.
The paper outlines many factors that affect attitude formation, attitude change and persuasion. While I feel that the paper is comprehensive in its breadth by listing possibly all the major factors that recent research has shown to affect attitudes and persuasion, there is very little depth in terms of elaboration of the various factors. In my opinion it serves as an introduction to these factors and in this regard it does very well by being thoroughly referenced should the reader wish to read further and/or consult the original research/findings.
Application to Communication Studies
The prevailing models of attitude change in their most basic form follow the single process model and the dual process model. In the classical single process model, ‘messages are presented, processed, and if successful, move recipients’ attitudes toward the advocated position.’ (Crano & Prislin, 2006) Perhaps the part of the paper most salient and interesting to our purposes would be the authors’ description of dual process models.
Dual Process Models
Dual process models hold that if receivers are able and properly motivated, they will scrutinise the message received to determine the merits of the argument and decide if they agree with it. Depending on the receiver’s unique cognitive response, the message is either accepted or rejected.
On the other hand, if receivers are unmotivated or unable(perhaps in the case of distraction) to process a message, they will use auxiliary features or peripheral cues in the message as well as heuristics as a shortcut instead of the more effortful scrutiny of the message in forming an attitudinal response to the persuasion.
Take a moment to think about this. While we are constantly bombarded with messages meant to persuade us towards attitude change, we are not able to scrutinize each and every one of them. Some messages we receive we may not accept based on the weight of their arguments, but when we are distracted we may accept them because they came from a trustworthy source, a likeable or good looking person(which may be the source of the distraction in the first place), a celebrity we know or if the message was delivered in a humorous manner or with a reward associated with it.
There is a caveat though. Persuasion delivered via the peripheral route tend to be weak and even temporary while persuasion delivered via a central route tend to have longer lasting effects (Elaboration likelihood model, 2012). An example of this can perhaps be encountered when we experience buyer’s remorse.
Questions for the Reader
1)Can you think of examples of the dual process model at work?
2)How can the knowledge of the dual process model help shape the way you deliver persuasive communication?
Crano, W., & Prislin, R. (2006). Attitudes and Persuasion. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 345-‐374. Available at: http://www.communicationcache.com/uploads/1/0/8/8/10887248/-attitudes_and_persuasion.pdf
Elaboration likelihood model, 2012. Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. [online] Available at: