Persuasion and Social Influence
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Attitudes refer to the general and relatively enduring evaluations people have of other people, objects, or ideas. These overall evaluations can be positive, negative, or neutral, and they can vary in their extremity...Individuals can hold attitudes about very broad or hypothetical constructs (e.g., anarchy) as well as about very concrete and specific things (e.g., a particular brand of chewing gum).
Attitudes can be based on different types of information. One popular conceptualization of the attitude construct, the tripartite theory, holds that there are three primary types of information on which attitudes can be based: cognitions or beliefs (e.g., This car gets 10 miles per gallon), affect or feelings (e.g., Owning this car makes me happy), and actions or behavior (e.g., I have always driven this brand of car). The basis of the attitude object can have important implications for attitude change. For example, it may generally be more effective to change attitudes that are based on emotion with emotional strategies rather than with more cognitive or rational ones.
If there were no stored attitudes, and evaluations were simply constructed anew each time the attitude object was encountered, many of the processes described in this chapter would have little theoretical utility. Instead, attitude change researchers would better spend their time focusing solely on context effects rather than procedures aimed at changing memorial evaluative representations. In our view, the strict constructivist approach does not seem prudent. In this chapter, attitudes are conceptualized as stored memorial constructs that may or may not be retrieved upon encountering the attitude object.
Most of this chapter focuses on the processes responsible for changes in attitudes. Polarization refers to instances in which an existing attitude maintains the same valence but becomes more extreme. Moderation refers to those instances in which an individual’s existing attitude becomes less extreme and moves toward the point of neutrality. One’s attitude can also cross the neutral point and change valence. Attitudes may be fruitfully conceptualized as falling along a continuum ranging from nonattitudes to strong attitudes. Strong attitudes are those that influence thought and behavior, are persistent over time, and are resistant to change.
Although most research on attitudes concerns people’s explicit likes and dislikes, in recent years a good deal of research interest has been generated by the idea of implicit attitudes. In an influential review of implicit attitude effects, Greenwald and Banaji referred to implicit attitudes as “introspectively unidentified (or inaccurately identified) traces of past experience that mediate favorable or unfavorable feeling, thought, or action toward social objects”. This definition suggests that people are unaware of some past experiences (implicit attitudes) that mediate current responses. Wilson, Lindsey, and Schooler expanded this definition by suggesting that implicit attitudes are “evaluations that (a) have an unknown origin . . . (b) are activated automatically; and (c) influence implicit responses . . .”. This definition suggests that people may be unaware of the origin of their past attitudes, although they may be aware of the attitudes themselves.
As the above definitions imply, one dimension on which implicit attitudes are thought to differ from explicit attitudes is awareness. That is, implicit attitudes are viewed as ones for which people are unaware of what the attitude is, where it comes from, or what effects it has. It is perhaps important to note that these types of awareness are not mutually exclusive. Any attitude can be characterized by all or none of these types of awareness.
The first type of awareness concerns an awareness of the attitude itself—that is, does the person consciously acknowledge that he or she holds an evaluative predisposition toward some person, object, or issue? If so, the attitude is said to be explicit. On the other hand, individuals sometimes have stored evaluative associations of which they are unaware... Thus, according to this criterion, to the extent that people have evaluative predispositions of which they are not consciously aware and are unable to consciously report when asked, these attitudes are said to be implicit.
If people are not aware of the attitude itself, it is unlikely that they would be aware of its basis (i.e., where it comes from). However, people are often unaware of the basis of their explicit attitudes as well. For example, repeated subliminal exposures to a stimulus can increase liking of the stimulus without awareness.
Similarly, a consciously reported attitude (e.g., one’s life satisfaction) may be unknowingly biased by extraneous inputs (e.g., the good weather). Even if the source of an attitude seems quite explicit (e.g., exposure to a persuasive message), people may be unaware that the message has influenced their attitudes. People sometimes recall having had their new attitude all along.
In considering types of awareness, it is awareness or acknowledgement of holding the attitude itself that is the distinguishing feature of implicit versus explicit attitudes. People are aware of holding their explicit attitudes; they are not aware of holding their implicit attitudes.
The focus of theories of attitude change to date has been on producing and changing explicit attitudes. That is, an attitude change technique is deemed effective to the extent that it modifies a person’s self-report of attitudes.
Perhaps the key idea in the dual process models [of social judgment] is that some processes of attitude change require relatively high amounts of mental effort, whereas other processes of attitude change require relatively little mental effort. Thus, Petty and Cacioppo reasoned that most of the major theories of attitude change were not necessarily competitive or contradictory, but rather operative in different circumstances.
The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion is a theory about the processes responsible for attitude change and the strength of the attitudes that result from those processes. Akey construct in the ELM is the elaboration likelihood continuum. This continuum is defined by how motivated and able people are to assess the central merits of an issue or a position.
Thus, when the elaboration likelihood is high, people assess issue-relevant information in relation to knowledge that they already possess, and they arrive at a reasoned (although not necessarily unbiased) attitude that is well articulated and bolstered by supporting information (central route). When the elaboration likelihood is low, however, then information scrutiny is reduced and attitude change can result from a number of less resource-demanding processes that do not require as much effortful evaluation of the issue-relevant information (peripheral route). Attitudes that are changed by low-effort processes are postulated to be weaker than are attitudes that are changed the same amount by high-effort processes (see prior discussion of attitude strength).
According to the ELM, in order for high-effort processes to influence attitudes, people must be both motivated to think (i.e., have the desire to exert a high level of mental effort) and have the ability to think (i.e., have the necessary skills and opportunity to engage in thought).
One of the most important variables influencing a person’s motivation to think is the perceived personal relevance or importance of the communication. When personal relevance is high, people are more influenced by the substantive arguments in a message and are less affected by peripheral processes. There are many ways to render a message self-relevant, such as including many first-person pronouns or matching the message in some way to a person’s self-conceptions. In addition, people are more motivated to scrutinize information when they believe that they are solely responsible for message evaluation.
Among the important variables influencing a person’s ability to process issue-relevant arguments is message repetition. Moderate message repetition provides more opportunities for argument scrutiny, which is beneficial for processing as long as tedium is not induced... Increasing the number of message sources can enhance information-processing activity, especially when the sources are viewed as providing independent assessments of the issue.
Some variables, however, are selective in their effects on thinking. For example, when people are highly motivated to think, a positive mood tends to encourage positive thoughts, discourage negative thoughts, or both, and expert sources tend to encourage favorable rather than unfavorable interpretations of message arguments.
A wide variety of motivations can determine which particular judgment is preferred in any given situation. For example, if the reactance motive is aroused, people prefer to hold whatever judgment is forbidden. If balance motives are operating, people prefer to adopt the position of a liked source but distance themselves from a disliked source. If impression management motives are operating, people prefer to hold whatever position they think would be ingratiating.
Some people might simply possess a biased store of knowledge compared to other people. If so, their ability to process the message objectively can be compromised. That is, recipients with a biased store of knowledge might be better able to see the flaws in opposition arguments and the merits in their own side compared to recipients with a more balanced store of knowledge. In addition, variables in the persuasion situation can bias retrieval of information even if what is stored is completely balanced and no motivational biases are operating. For example, a positive mood can increase access to positive material in memory.
In order for corrections to occur, people should (a) be motivated and able to identify potentially biasing factors, (b) possess or generate a naive theory about the magnitude and direction of the bias, and (c) be motivated and able to make the theory-based correction.
If the message processing is biased, however, the size of the argument quality effect on these variables can be attenuated over what it is with objective processing; this is because when engaged in biased processing, people may fail to appreciate the merits or demerits of the arguments (e.g., seeing strengths in even weak arguments and finding some flaws in strong ones).
Some low-effort attitude change processes are associative in nature—that is, attitudes are often impacted by associations that develop between attitude objects and positive or negative stimuli (i.e., objects and feelings), or even by observations of those associations. Examples of these processes include classical conditioning, affective priming, mere exposure, and balance.
One way to produce attitude change in the absence of effortful scrutiny is to associate an attitude object that is initially neutral (e.g., a new product) with stimuli that already have positive or negative meaning. Considerable research has demonstrated that when an initially neutral stimulus immediately precedes another stimulus that already has positive or negative associations, the neutral stimulus can come to be positively or negatively evaluated itself. For example, attitudes toward words, people, and products have been influenced by their association with pleasant or unpleasant odors, temperatures, sounds, shock, photographs, and so on.
Consistent with the classification of classical conditioning as a low-effort process, conditioning effects have been found to be particularly likely when effortful processing is at a minimum. Specifically, these effects are enhanced when the stimuli are presented subliminally and when the stimuli have no a priori meaning attached to them.
Another process that relies on associations between stimuli is affective priming. In this method, also known as backward conditioning, presentation of positively or negatively valenced stimuli immediately precedes rather than follows presentation of target stimuli. These presentations have been found to influence evaluations of the target stimuli... For example, it was found that subliminal presentation of positive or negative pictures (e.g., smiling people vs. snakes) made subsequent evaluations of target individuals more favorable or less favorable, respectively. Consistent with classification of this change mechanism as a low effort process, these effects have been found to be unaffected by cognitive load and more likely to occur when the initial affective stimuli can be processed only minimally or not at all (e.g., when they have been presented subliminally).
Research has also shown that the mere repeated exposure of an object can make one’s attitude toward that object more favorable even if one does not recognize the object as having been encountered previously... Some researchers have argued that even when a stimulus cannot be consciously identified as having been encountered, its previous exposure might make it easier to process. This could create a kind of perceptual fluency that becomes attached to the stimulus or confused with a positive evaluation of the stimulus. This process only occurs, however, to the extent that the feeling of familiarity is not directly attributed to the repeated exposure...the effect appears to be decreased as conscious processing increases, such as when evaluation apprehension is induced.
At a general level, attribution theory addresses the inferences people make about themselves and others after witnessing behaviors and the situational constraints surrounding those behaviors. In some cases, these inferences involve attitudes, such as when individuals infer their own or someone else’s attitudes on the basis of their behavior with respect to some attitude object.
Attribution theory has also contributed to attitude change research in other ways. In one application called the overjustification effect, people come to devalue previously enjoyed activities (e.g., running) when they are given overly sufficient rewards for engaging in them. If someone is given an extrinsic reward for promoting a proattitudinal advocacy, for instance, their attitude may become less favorable to the extent that they view their behavior as stemming from the reward rather than from the merits of the position they are endorsing.
If the communicator advocates a position that violates his or her own self-interest, he or she is perceived as more trustworthy and the position as more valid. If the communicator takes a position consistent with self-interest, however, he or she is perceived as less trustworthy and the position as less valid.
The heuristic-systematic model of persuasion suggests that when people are engaged in relatively little information-processing activity, they typically evaluate persuasive information in terms of stored heuristics, or simple decision rules based on prior experiences or observations. One such heuristic might be that length implies strength. In several studies it has been found that people are more persuaded by messages containing large numbers of examples or arguments, but only when recipients of such messages are relatively unmotivated to engage in extensive thought... A variety of additional variables have been shown to operate as cues when the elaboration likelihood is low—such as source attractiveness and speed of speech.
According to the cognitive response view, when exposed to a persuasive message, people reflect on the message with respect to their preexisting knowledge and prior attitude (if they have one), considering information not contained in the message itself... According to the cognitive response approach, persuasion can be increased to the extent that the message elicits mostly favorable thoughts (e.g., If we raise taxes, the roads will improve and reduce my commute time) and few unfavorable thoughts (e.g., If we raise taxes, I’ll have less money to go out to dinner). On the other hand, people can resist messages to the extent that they generate mostly unfavorable thoughts and few favorable thoughts.
In addition to extent and content of thinking, recent research has uncovered a third aspect of thought that influences persuasion—the confidence people have in their own cognitive responses...When people are asked to generate a small and easy number of cognitive responses (e.g., counterarguments or favorable thoughts), they have more confidence in the responses and rely on them to a greater extent in determining their attitudes than when they are asked to generate a higher and more difficult number of thoughts.
Janis and King examined the differential effects of having people actively present persuasive arguments versus passively hear arguments presented by others. Results indicated that participants who actively generated and presented messages were typically more persuaded than were those who passively listened to messages. This effect has been replicated numerous times). A number of mechanisms have been proposed to account for these role-playing effects. Janis proposed a biased scanning explanation whereby individuals, in the process of supporting an attitudinal position, recruit consistent beliefs and inhibit inconsistent beliefs... Simply reading a set of persuasive arguments to others did not elicit as much persuasion as did extemporaneously elaborating on the message. Presumably, actively generating arguments in favor of a given position leads to the active retrieval of supportive information that is uniquely persuasive to the individual and to the inhibition of nonsupporting information...—or the arguments might seem more compelling simply because they are associated with the self (i.e., an ownness bias).
Some research has indicated that attitude polarization can sometimes occur when individuals simply engage in extensive thought about an attitude object. Attitude polarization following thought requires a well-integrated and consistent attitude schema; otherwise, thought leads to attitude moderation...Attitude change can sometimes occur following thought because individuals focus on selective subsets of information... Selective focus on a subset of attitude-relevant information increases the impact of that limited subset of information on attitude judgments and can consequently lead to suboptimal decision making.
We have seen that self-persuasion can occur when people are prompted to think by receiving a persuasive message, by doing a role-playing exercise, or by simply being asked to think. Attitude change can also occur when a person’s own behavior motivates him or her to think.
In its original formulation, dissonance was described as a feeling of aversive arousal akin to a drive state experienced by an individual when he or she simultaneously held two conflicting cognitions. The resulting aversive arousal was hypothesized to instigate attempts to restore consonance among the relevant cognitions. Attempts to restore consistency typically involved very active thinking about the attitude object, and the end result of this thinking was often a change in the person’s attitude.
Steele’s self-affirmation theory suggests that dissonance results from any threat to viewing oneself as “adaptively and morally adequate”. Alternately, Aronson has argued that dissonance is based on inconsistency between one’s self-view and one’s actions (e.g., I am a good person and did a bad deed). These two alternatives differ in their predictions of whether individuals prefer self-verification or self enhancement.
Although some researchers have proposed that virtually all attitude change occurs via the thoughtful consideration of likelihood and desirability assessment, as we described previously, attitude change can also occur via multiple low-effort processes. Additionally, even likelihood and desirability assessments could be made via low-effort processes...For example, repeated exposure to a piece of information increases perceptions of its validity, and as noted earlier, repeated mere exposure to a stimulus increases its desirability, even when the exposure is subliminal.
Our previous discussion of implicit and explicit attitudes suggested that a given individual might hold more than one attitude toward the same attitude object—one explicit and one implicit. It has been demonstrated, for instance, that although people tend to report favorable attitudes toward minority group members on some explicit measures, they may simultaneously show evidence of unfavorable attitudes on more implicit measures.Acommon explanation for this finding has been that negative associations develop early in life and remain accessible in memory even after more positive attitudes are later formed.
The possibility of people having both implicit and explicit attitudes has a number of important implications. Perhaps the most relevant implication for attitude change is that it suggests that on some occasions when attitudes appear to change (e.g., when initial negative racial attitudes become more positive), the new attitude might not literally replace the old attitude, but may instead coexist in such a way that the old attitude can resurface under specifiable circumstances.
Attitudes that are changed as a result of considerable mental effort tend to be more persistent, resistant to counterpersuasion, and predictive of behavior than are attitudes that are changed by a process invoking little mental effort in assessing the central merits of the object.
One of the most exciting new domains of inquiry is the interplay between explicit and implicit attitudes. For example, what is the best way to conceptualize and assess implicit attitudes? Under what conditions are implicit and explicit attitudes likely to guide action? Are some attitude change processes more likely to influence implicit attitudes, whereas others are more likely to change explicit attitudes?
From time to time those who study and teach social influence have been criticized harshly. In the fifth century BC, for example, Plato derided the first teachers of persuasion for "making the worse appear the better reason". Simons noted: "From a number of quarters these days, persuasion is under attack for being manipulative activity. Its highest critics equate not just some persuasion, but all persuasion with deception and role-playing, domination and exploitation."
While cooperative, dialogic encounters may be the ideal to which we should all aspire, we believe that there are many situations in which people have to roll up their sleeves and persuade. Imagine, for example, that you observed an injustice being committed by one person against another. You could begin by inviting the aggressor to engage in a dialogue in the hope of arriving at a mutually satisfactory outcome. But what if the aggressor spurned your invitation? Would you simply say, "Oh well, I tried" and resign yourself to the fact that the world is full of injustices? We think it would be better to resort to persuasion, to engage in an active effort to change the mind of the aggressor. We see dialogue and persuasion as complementary, not antithetical, forms of communication. There are times, we submit, when one has a moral obligation to try to change others' minds and behavior.
Persuasion is eseential precisely because dialogue sometimes fails. From an ethical standpoint, then, we side with Plato's student, Aristotle, who had this to say about persuasion: "If it is urged that an abuse of the rhetorical faculty can work great mischief, the same charge can be brought against all good things (save virute itself), and especially against the most useful things such as strength, health, wealth, and military skill. Rightly employed, they work the greatest blessings, and wrongly employed, they work the greatest harm."
In an extensive review of communication competence research from multiple fields, Spitzberg reported than an individual's ability to adapt effectively in order to achieve goals is perhaps the most universally accepted aspect of communication competence. This ability, he noted, is a crucial part of being well adjusted that, when absent, "is often associated with abnormal or even pathological orientations". Competent communicators are persuasive. They know how to adapt successfully in order to achieve their goals.
Those who argue against the study of persuasion are themselves committing a 'tu quoque' fallacy, that is, accusing another of a similar wrong. In the process of criticizing persuasion, such critics are relying on persuasion themselves. They would like to persuade you not to study persuasion, not to use persuasion, or to use persuasion less. This approach raises an interesting dilemma: How can one communicate one's beliefs, opinions, values, views, positions, or preferences without employing persuasion?
People who use a lot of eye contant tend to be more persuasive, and attractive people are more believable than unattractive ones. Heavier people are less likely to earn high salaries than slim people and tall people are more likely than short people to get jobs. In short, avoiding persuasion would be difficult, if not impossible. Even critics of persuasion cannot avoid it. Clearly, engaging in persuasion is an inextricable part of being human.
Studying persuasion tells us a great deal about how humans produce, shape, perceive, interpret, and respond to messages. It provides insights into the social and cultural forces that give rise to influence attempts, among them presidential debates, social protests, religious cults, and health campaigns.
Embracing Divergence: A Definitional Analysis of Pure and Borderline Cases of Persuasion, R. Gass, J. Seiter
By pure persuasion, we refer to clear-cut cases on which almost all scholars in communication and related disciplines would agree. As examples, nearly everyone would include a presidential debate, a television commercial, or an attorney's closing remarks to a jury as instances of persuasion... Much of the disparity in definitions, then, is rooted in the fact that some scholars and researchers are concerned with "pure" persuasion, whereas others are concerned with borderline cases as well.
Among other things, there appears to be a need to expand the scope of persuasion to encompass nonverbal behavior and implicit social cues that accompany face-to-face encounters. Because a good deal of what happens in interpersonal encounters occurs at a low level of awarenes, we suggest that much of the influence that takes place operates at a similarly implicit level. As an illustration, cultural factors may influence an individual's choice of compliance-gaining strategies without the individual's conscious awareness.
Many definitions adopt a "source-centered" view by focusing on the sender's intent as a defining feature of persuasion... It is the most common characteristic of standard textbook definitions. Certainly, "pure" persuasion would seem to fall into this category. When one considers traditional cases of persuasion, one tends to think of conscious, intentional efforts, along the lines of the classic fear arousal studies. Compliance gaining, too, would appear to satisfy this requirement, to the extent that compliance gaining is conceived of as planned, goal-directed communication... Even when persuasion is intentional, many of the cues conveyed by a source may be unintentional, such as the appearance of nervousness or the use of a powerless language style. Such unintended cues nevertheless carry considerable persuasive weight.
Conscious modeling of behavior constitutes persuasion, while unconscious modeling should be considered a form of influence. According to this scheme, 'influence' can be understood as an umbrella term that encompasses any and all forms of persuasion, whether pure or borderline. 'Persuasion' should thus be considered a special case of influence that satisfies an intent requirement... Intentional compliance gaining should therefore be considered part of persuasion, whereas unintentional compliance gaining should be regarded as an aspect of influence.
If one wishes to focus on pure cases of compliance gaining, it seems sensible to combine both an intent and an effects criterion: the prototypical case of compliance gaining is a planned, purposeful effort to secure compliance, usually in the form of behavioral conformity, in response to a request or other message recommendation.
Persuasion is rarely wholly successful or unsuccessful. Usually, there are degrees of success or failure. A persuader might succeed in changing another's attitudes, but not the other's behavior. And whenever an effects criterion is in use, it raises the question of when, or at what point, the effects should be measured.
In its most basic form, persuasion involves changing persons' mental states, usually as precursors to behavioral change. Of the various mental states that might be implicated in persuasion, attitude (understood as a person's general evaluation of an object) has been the center of research attention. Correspondingly, persuasion has often been conceived of as fundamentally involving attitude change. This might involve a change in the valence (positive or negative) of the evaluation or a change in the extremity of the evaluation (as when an attitude changes from extremely negative to only slightly negative).
Properties of attitude other than valence and extremity have come to be recognized as potentially important foci for persuasive efforts. That is, rather than influencing the direction or extremity of an attitude, a persuader might want to influence some other attribute of the attitude, such as its salience (prominence, accessibility), the confidence with which it is held, the degree to which it is linked to other attitudes, and so forth.
A number of attitudinal properties have been grouped together under the general heading of "attitude strength". Conceptualizations of attitude strength vary, but a useful illustration is provided by the proposal that attitude strength is best understood as an amalgam of persistence, resistance, impact on information processing and judgments, and impact on behavior.
Various kinds of beliefs about norms can be relevant targets for persuaders. For instance, people's beliefs about "descriptive norms"--perceptions of what most people do--may influence actions and thus be a focus for persuasive efforts... Similarly, the "subjective norm"--the person's perception that significant others desire the performance (or nonperformance) of the behavior--may be a persuasion target... That is, by altering the receiver's conception of what significant other people think the receiver should do, the receiver's conduct may be influenced.
Self-efficacy (or perceived behavioral control), the person's perception of his or her ability to perform the behavior, is another mental state that has come to be seen as an important focus for persuasive efforts. Sometimes the barrier to a receiver's compliance seems not to be a negative attitude or negative norms, but rather a perceived inability to perform the action successfully... So, for example, modeling (showing someone successfully performing the behavior) and rehearsal (giving persons an opportunity to practice the behavior) can be useful avenues to influencing self-efficacy.
A given persuasion variable can produce different effects under different conditions; a variable might significantly influence persuasive otucomes in one circumstance, but have relatively little effect in another. For instance, acknowleding potential counter-arguments has different effects depending on the message's topic: it reduces the persuasiveness of messages concernign public policy questions, but not the persuasiveness of consumer product advertisements. Many studies of persuasive effects can be described as a search for possible moderating factors, that is, factors that alter the impact that one variable has on another.
There is general agreement that an attitude is "a learned predisposition to respond in a consistently favorable or unfavorable manner with respect to a given object". That is, attitudes are learned rather than innate, they reflect tendencies to respond or react in predictable ways, and they represent favorable or unfavorable evaluations of things. It is this last feature of attitudes, their evaluative nature (that is, appraisals of things as good or bad, right or wrong), that represents the hallmark of attitude research.
From the standpoint of persuasion, attitudes are important because they are thought to correlate with and predict behavior... Because attitudes and behavior are related, changing an individual's attitude(s) should lead to changes in his/her behavior. Thus, attitude change research, in a nutshell, attempts to identify ways of modifying receivers' attitudes in order to bring about corresponding changes in their behavior.
Mere exposure effect states that exposure to an unfamiliar stimulus can in and of itself increase positive affect toward the stimulus. Stated simply, some messages "grow on us." Thus, a consumer who encountered a product logo on several different occasions would tend to evaluate that logo more favorably than he or she would other, unfamiliar logos. It wouldn't matter whether the consumer knew what the familiar logo represented.
Social desirability bias: people tend to behave in ways they consider to be socially polite or correct, especially in public settings. For this reason, some researchers have advocated the use of unobtrusive measures and indirect questioning as a means of reducing social desirability bias.
Activation of relevant attitudes: attitudes tend to predict behavior more accurately when they are activated, that is, brought to the forefront of an individual's conscious awareness. Sometimes people need to be reminded what their attitudes are in order for them to adjust their behavior accordingly.
A common explanation for mere exposure effect is based on a misattribution involving 'fluency'. According to this view, individuals mistake 'fluency,' or the proficiency with which they process a stimulus, with positive affect or liking. The fluency is a result of their previous exposure to the stimulus, but observers don't realize this. This explanation accounts for the fact that in studies in which participants are aware of their previous exposure, reduced mere exposure effects are observed... Some studies suggest that mere exposure works best if the exposures are brief in duration. Finally, some research indicates that there are diminishing returns to increasing exposure, with a levelling off or drop-off in effectiveness after 10 to 20 exposures.
At present it is unclear whether mere exposure operates via conscious or unconscious processing, or both. The literature seems to indicate that mere exposure is more effective when it takes place at a low level of awareness or unconsciously. Whatever the underlying mechanism, however, the literature, suggests that mere exposure works and works well.
How much inconsistency an individual can tolerate is related in large part to the centrality of the beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors in question. Inconsistencies involving core beliefs are more troubling than those involving tangential beliefs. Thus, the notion of cheating on a diet would bother most people far less than the notion of cheating on a spouse.
Persuasive messages can be aimed at either increasing or decrasing dissonance. On the one hand, a persuader might want to increase dissonance in order to get another person to rethink his or her position on an issue... On the other hand, a persuader might want to minimize dissonance by reassuring another person that the decision she or he made was the right one.
Dissonance may be aroused when an individual is expose to information that is inconsistent with her or his beliefs. The theory predicts that a person will reject, distort, or avoid information that arouses dissonance... Having made a decision, individuals will engage in selective exposure by seeking out information that is cononant with their choice and avoiding information that is dissonant with their choice. Before buying a car, for example, a consumer might look at ads for a variety of makes and models. After purchasing a car, however, the same consumer will tend to look for ads or favorable reviews of the specific car purchased.
The induced compliance paradigm is perhaps the most widely studies of all the dissonance paradigms. When a person is induced to engage in behavior that is contrary to his or her attitudes or self-image, the magnitude of dissonance is less. When a person performs a counter-attitudinal action of his or her own volition, however, the magnitude of dissonance is greater... The larger the external incentive for enganging in counter-attitudinal behavior, the less attitude change there will be in the direction of the behavior in question. The smaller the external incentive, the greater the change in attitude. Thus, people who volunteered to go door to door to raise money for a charity would tend to have more favorable attitudes toward the charity than people who were paid to do the same type of fund-raising.
The effort justification paradigm holds that when a person has to earn something, he or she appreciates it all the more. The greater the sacrifice that is required to achieve an outcome, the more an individual will value the outcome. Conversely, the less sacrifice involved, the less value the individual will attach to the outcome.
The theory of reasoned action is often referred to as a "rational" theory of persuasion, because it focuses on the deliberative process an individual engages in when she or he is presented with a persuasive message. The operating assumption is that individuals systematically analyze messages, evaluate all available information, and actively weigh the benefits and risks associated with compliance before making a decision... The first major factor, attitude toward the behavior, refers to a person's evaluation of the benefits and risks associated with performing the action requested in a persuasive message. Favorable attitudes lead to approach behavior, and unfavorable attitudes lead to avoidance behavior... A second major factor that determines a person's behavioral intent is subjective norms. Subjective norms are made up of a person's normative beliefs about what significant others think, along with the person's motivation to comply with significant others' opinions.
Social judgment theory suggests that a person's anchor position is used as a standard to evaluate all other positions. As such, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to persuade a person to accept a position that is too disparate from his or her anchor point. In fact, when a persuasive message advocates a position that is highly discrepant from a person's anchor position, social judgment theory predicts that the persuadee will perceive the position advocated in the persuasive message to be farther away from the anchor than it really is. This outcome, known as the contrast effect, makes rejection of a persuasive message more likely. In contrast, a persuasive message advocating a position that is not too far away from a person's anchor position, that is, one that falls within the person's latitude of noncommitment, may be deemed tolerable... Not surprisingly, the breadth of any particular person's latitudes of acceptance, noncommitment, and rejection influences how difficult it may be to persuade that person. For instance, social judgment theory conceptualizes an ego-involved person as someone with a narrow latitude of acceptance and a wide latitude of rejection.
Expectancy violations theory holds that people have expectations about what constitutes normal behavior. When such expectations are violated, it catches receivers off guard. Someone standing too close or using extremely intense language, for example, might violate a person's expectations for normal behavior. According to these theories, such violations cause receivers to shift their attention from the message to the source of the message. Whether such violations hinder or facilitate persuasion, then, depends on the receivers' perceptions of the person violating the expectations.
Dual-processing theories of persuasion assume that one mode or route is more cognitive, deliberate, reflective, effortful, and generally slower than the other, which is more automatic, reflexive, habitual, affective, and generally faster. People rely on one mode when they need to think through a decision and rely on the other when they need to expedite their decision making.
Aristotle provided a theory that specified what a speaker needed to know in order to understand how to persuade others. Aristotle reasoned that to be successful at persuasion, one had to understand characteristics of the source (ethos), the message (logos), and the emotions of the audience (pathos). For example, Aristotle remarked that if a source were well respected, it would be easier to persuade others of his views than if he was not well respected.
Following Aristotle's notion of ethos, early researchers found that credible sources increased persuasion. Following Aristotle's concept of logos, researchers found that increasing the number of arguments in favor of a position increased the overall amount of persuasion. Finally, researchers following Aristotle's concept of pathos found that placing the audience in a negative emotional state reduced persuasion. Furthermore, the researchers tied the effects of these variables to single processes. For example, negative emotion was said to reduce persuasion because of classical conditioning.
Subsequent research on increasing the number of arguments in a message found that more arguments did not always lead to greater attitude change. Subsequent research on source credibility and negative emotions found that sometimes highly credible sources could be associated with reduced persuasion and that negative emotions could be used to increase persuasion.
At the core of the Elaboration Likelihood Model is the elaboration continuum. The elaboration continuum is based on a person's motivation and ability to think about and assess the qualities of the issue-relevant information available in the persuasion context. When both motivation and ability to think are high, individuals are inclined to scrutinize carefully all issue-relevant information stemming from the source, message, context, and themselves in an attempt to make an accurate judgment about the merits of the issue (called the central route to persuasion). However, when either motivation to process is low or ability to process is hindered attitudes can be changed by one or more of a family of relatively low-effort processes (called the peripheral route to persuasion). Thus, the ELM posits that for the sake of simplicity, persuasion can be thought of as following one of two routes to persuasion: central and peripheral.
The ELM specifies that whether attitude change occurs by the central or the peripheral route has important implications for the strength of the resulting attitude. That is, attitude changes brought about through high-elaboration processes tend to be more persistent, resistant, and predictive of behavior than changes brought about because of low elaboration processes... Whether persuasion occurs through the central or peripheral route is determined by a person's motivation and ability to think about the issue-relevant information available.
The first postulate of the ELM states that people are motivated to hold what they believe to be "correct" attitudes. Correct attitudes need to be correct, not necessarily logically but in the sense of an individual's subjective appraisal. Correct attitudes are helpful because they often allow people to gain rewards and avoid punishments by approaching helpful objects and avoiding dangerous ones. Holding correct attitudes is important if people want to act on their attitudes.
The assumption that people want to be correct does not imply that people cannot be biased in their assessment of evidence, however. In fact, being certain that one is correct and wanting to maintain one's correct attitude can lead to defensive processing of contrary information. The first postulate of the ELM merely assumes that people are rarely explicitly motivated to be biased... For example, people are sometimes motivated to be consistent over time, or they can be motivated to impress others, which might lead them to try to see the merits in whatever position a liked individual has.
It is important to point out that the distinction between high and low elaboration should not be viewed as a distinction between "good" versus "bad" persuasion. The use of the peripheral can be an adaptive, necessary tool in people's everyday lives. When motivation or capacity is low, one might forgo decision making--which is not always possible--or postpone it until conditions foster it. It is also important to note that thinking does not ensure an optimal outcome, as one's thoughts can be biased by various contextual factors. For example, when people are spending a lot of time on active thought, their assessment of arguments is biased by their mood states.
The Hedonic contingency model holds that people in a positive mood are especially motivated to maintain this state. It as hypothesized that being in a positive mood should enhance message elaboration relative to a sad mood if the message recipient believed that processing the message was likely to make people feel happy. Conversely, being in a positive mood should lead to less elaboration than a sad mood if an individual believed that processing the message would be likely to make people feel negative.
According to the ELM, when the likelihood of elaboration is low, mood can serve as a simple cue to decide whether or not to accept a message. This could be the result of a number of processes such as classical conditioning or mood misattribution. In the case of mood misattribution, people mistakenly infer their attitude from their mood. When the likelihood of elaboration is high, however, mood can serve as an argument or bias the ongoing thoughts.
Several variables can influence the amount of thinking people do when confronted with a persuasive message. Distraction can either enhance or diminish attitude change depending on what kinds of thoughts the distraction disrupts. When a message contained compelling arguments, distracted disrupted the favorable thoughts that normally would have been elicited, thereby decreasing persuasion. However, when a message contained specious arguments, distraction disrupted the unfavorable thoughts that normally would have been elicited and thereby increased persuasion.
Some variables can induce a desire to reject a message. For example, forewarning people of a speaker's persuasive intent can motivate counterarguing and resistance to the message. Ability factors can also be important in producing resistance. For example, negative emotional states might make negative thoughts and ideas more readily accessible. On the other hand, having a great deal of knowledge in support of one's attitude might make it easier to counterargue messages against one's viewpoint. Often, people are not aware of the biases that influence their information processing. However, in some cases people may become aware of a bias that they consider inappropriate and attempt to correct for it... It a potential bias is made salient, people can and do correct their attitudes. This can lead them to remove the bias, though if overcorrection occurs, a reverse bias can become apparent.
When attitudes are based on high levels of elaboration, people have the necessary "backing" to defend their attitudes against later counterattitudinal persuasion attempts and to maintain the attitude over time. These attitudes will also tend to be more accessible and held with greater confidence. Because of this higher accessibility and confidence, people will be more likely to act on central route attitudes.
An expert source can influence attitudes as a simple persuasion cue when the likelihood of thinking is low, can bias the processing of message arguments when the likelihood of thinking is high, and can determine the extent of thinking when the likelihood of thinking is not constrained.
Individuals who had focused on finding fault with the message reported more certainty in their changed attitudes. Furthermore, the attitudes of individuals who had tried but failed to find fault were more predictive of subsequent behavioral intentions. It was argued that people who tried to find fault but failed were more cognizant of the fact that there were no faults than were people who simply processed the message objectively.
For thousands of years scholars who study persuasion have recognized that some message sources are more persuasive than others. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, for example, explained in the fourth century BC: "We believe good men more fully and more readily than others; this is true generally whatever the question is, and absolutely where exact certainty is impossible and opinions divided"... In the twentieth century several literature reviews have concluded that source credibility is an important element in persuasion. Petty and Cacioppo wrote, "The expertise of the source of a message is one of the most important features of the persuasion situation and one of the earliest variables to be investigated. It remains, however, one of the least understood manipulations."
Message sources have multiple dimensions, including the source's physical attractiveness, similarity to the audience, and other demographic factors. The two principal elements of source credibility are traditionally considered to be expertise (the level of the source's knowledge of the topic of the message, typically established by education, training, or experience in the field) and trustworthiness (whether the source can be expected to provide an objective or unbiased perspective on the topic). Wilson's meta-analysis found that the effect of expertise on persuasion is greater than the effect of trustworthiness, attractiveness, or similarity.
Different people listening to the same persuasive message might engage in varying amounts of central and peripheral processing (depending upon each receiver's motivation and ability). So the metaphor of two "routes" is in some respects unfortunate, because it implies that auditors will take one route of the other, whereas cognitive processing can actually occur at any point on the elaboration continuum... According to the Elaboration Likelihood Model, the key to persuasion is understanding the thoughts about, responses to, or elaborations of a message.
When a listener believes that several sources collectively endorse a message position, the listener may be more likely to accept that message. Harkins found that more arguments and more sources each generate more favorable cognitive responses and more attitude change than messages with fewer arguments and sources. All things being equal, an idea that many people accept is more likely to be true than one that few people believe.
The claim that source credibility influences persuasion by affecting message processing is supported by research suggesting that source credibility affects persuasion only if the source is identified before the message has been processed. It was found that there was no difference in attitude change between high and low- credibility sources when those sources were identified after the message... Thus, research indicates that credibility cues mediate persuasion by influencing how messages attributed to that source are processed.
Source credibility may influence the number of thougts produced in response to a message. Here, belief that the source is an expert on the topic of the message could encourage receivers to "relax their guards," or feel less motivation to scrutinize the message (produce fewer cognitive responses). In contrast, if the source is thought to be disreputable, that belief may lead receivers to be more wary, subjecting the message to greater scrutiny (produce more cognitive responses)... Conversely, auditors are more motivated to think critically, and tend to produce more counterarguments, in regard to messages from apparently nonexpert sources, reducing persuasion from such sources.
On involving topics, audience members are motivated to scrutinize the message, engaging in central processing of the ideas and arguments in the message. Thus, source credibility should have a minimal impact on such topics. As noted above, Wilson's study identified a number of studies in which source credibility had effects in high-involvement conditions, but these effects were in the minority.
Several studies have found that when a message is proattitudinal (attempting to reinforce or strengthen rather than change attitudes), moderately credible sources are more persuasive than highly credible ones.
If persuaders wish to change an audience's attitude, they must disagree with the audience. If the persuader parrots their own attitudes back to them, there will be more reason for the audience to change those attitudes. Of course, if persuaders disagree too much, the audience may consider their message to be unreasonable, and it may produce unfavorable cognitive responses and no attitude change. Thus, the degree of discrepancy between the message position and the audience's attitude is an important variable in persuasion... Disagreeing with the audience a little produces little attitude change, disagreeing moderately produces more persuasion, and disagreeing a great deal produces little or no persuasion.
Benoit has developed a theory of image repair discourse that discusses the options available to people or organizations who need to recover from a damaged reputation. He begins with the assumtion that a threat to an image has two components: offensiveness and responsibility. First, there must be a problem or breach of expected conduct. If nothing bad happened, there is no blame to apportion. Second, a person accused or suspected of wrongdoing must have caused (or encouraged, permitted, or failed to prevent) the problem... Image repair efforts can pr oceed through three general approaches: reduce or eliminate the apparent offensiveness of the act in question, reduce or eliminate the accused's responsibility for the act, or concede both offensiveness and responsibility with an apology and request for forgiveness.
Benoit has reported that offering corrective action and apologizing are perceived to be the most effective and appropriate strategies... First, it is important to identify all of the key accusations; a message that ignores key allegations will not repair one's credibility. Second, it is vital to identify the key audience. The persuader need nto necessarily restore lost credibility for everyone; the ones who matter the most are those he or she will try to persuade.
Because it often functions as a peripheral cue, credibility is more likely to influence persuasion on less involving topics. Credible sources may reduce motivation to process messages, which means that they are likely to facilitate persuasion when thoughts are likely to be unfavorable and may actually impede persuasion when thoughts are likely to be favorable. Disreputable sources are likely to encourage unfavorable cognitive responses and result in less persuasion. Highly credible sources may increase a message's persuasiveness by permitting higher levels of discrepancy.
Compliance-gaining attempts often involve the use of argumentative behavior. That is, when attempting to persuade others, sometimes people present arguments supporting the position(s) they are advocating, while attempting to refute the position(s) of others.
The manner in which partners communicate during these compliance-gaining efforts can help determine whether their relationship will be seen as satisfying or unsatisfying, or whether the compliance-gaining attempt will be successful or unsuccessful. For example, a person who communicates aggresively, attacking the self-esteem of his or her partner, might damage the relationship and be less persuasive as a result.
A communicative behavior is "aggressive if it applies force symbolically in order, minimally, to dominate and perhaps damage, or maximally, to defeat and perhaps destroy the locus of the attack." To pressure someone into behaving a particular way, for example, a persuader might attack that person's self-esteem by using profanity or by calling the other person names.
Assertiveness and argumentativeness are the constructive traits. Assertiveness is the more global of the two. If you are assertive, you tend to be interpersonally ascendant, dominant, and forceful, using this behavior to achieve personal goals while creating positive affect in people. If you are highly argumentative, you tend to advocate and defend positions on controversial issues while attempting to refute other people's positions on those issues. Argumentativeness is a subset of assertiveness, because all argument is assertive, though not all assertiveness involves argument.
The two destructive traits in the model of aggresive communication are hostility and verbal aggresiveness. Hostility is more global. People with this trait use messages to express irritability, negativism, resentment, and suspicion. People high in verbal aggresiveness tend to attack the self-concepts of other people in order to inflict psychological pain such as humiliation, embarrassment, depression, and other negative feelings about self... Kinney suggested there are three broad domains of self-concept attack: group membership, personal failings, and relational failings.
High verbal aggressives seem desensitized to the hurt they cause others because they do not view verbally aggressive messages in the same way other people do. The main reasons they give for their use of verbal aggression are disdain for the target, desire to be mean, eagerness to appear tough, and involvement in discussions that degenerate into verbal fights.
Infante's model of argumentativeness suggests that a person's motivation to argue in a given situation is determined by his or her trait argumentativeness, as well as perceptions of how likely he or she is to succeed or fail and how important it is to succeed in the given situation... Infante found that ego-involvement in the topic of an argument influenced the behavior of high and low argumentatives. Specifically, when people were highly involved in an issue, they were not only more motivated to argue, their argumentative behavior was improved as well.
A situational factor that may influence one's argumentativeness includes the nature of behavior of one's partner. Rancer and Infante found that the argumentativeness of an individual and that of his or her adversary interact to determine motivation for arguing in a specific situation... Persuaders resorted to higher levels of verbal aggressiveness more quickly when targets exhibited more intense resistance to the persuasive attempt. That is, when individuals felt that their efforts at persuasion were going to fail, they were quicker to resort to higher levels of verbally aggressive communication.
Stewart found that people's attitudes toward arguing in a particular situation, coupled with their beliefs about what people who are important to them think about arguing, are the primary determinants of intentions to argue... This finding suggests that beliefs and motivations to argue may be more socially driven than individually determined.
High, moderate, and low argumentatives were found to have different perceptions of two functions of arguing: cultivation and antagonism. High argumentatives view arguing as a source for cultivating information, whereas low argumentatives see it as a behavior that reveals their lack of argumentative and rhetorical competence. Moreover, while high argumentatives view arguments as a means of reducing conflict, low argumentatives see them as unfavorable and hostile acts to be avoided at all costs... Results of Rancer's study indicated that high argumentatives believe that arguing has enjoyable, functional, and pragmatic outcomes, as well as having a positive impact on their self-concept. Low argumentatives' beliefs about arguing lay in the opposite direction.
The "high-argumentativeness-low-argumentative other" condition emerged as the one in which persons generated the greatest number of arguments and showed the most resistance to yielding to the other. More specifically, highly argumentative individuals were more argumentative when paired with a low rather than high-argumentative partner. The results also revealed that the argumentativeness of the adversary did not substantially affect the argumentative behavior of low argumentatives.
Studies found that, compared with low argumentatives, high argumentatives used a greater variety of strategies and were generally more persistent. In addition, verbally aggressive individuals used more negatively oriented compliance-gaining messages, perhaps due to their lack of skill in arguing, which impedes their ability to create and use compliance-gaining strategies that are more "positive" in nature.
Evidentiary appeals are often referred to as rational appeals because they are arguments that contain information to support a claim. As such, evidentiary appeals are seen positively and judged more favorably and effectively. Nonevidentiary appeals are arguments that contain little or no supporting material but instead rely on simple assertions. These types of appeals tend to be more emotional in nature and are seen less favorably than evidentiary appeals.
One factor that may make an individual more resistant to persuasion is the ability to generate or construct counterarguments. A study by Kazoleas suggested that high argumentatives might differ in this ability. Specifically, Kazoleas found high argumentatives more resistant to persuasion because they generate more counterarguments when they think about a counterattitudinal message (a message inconsistent with one's existent attitude).
An affirming communicator style, is highly relaxed, friendly, and attentive, and is accompanied by relatively low levels of verbal aggressiveness. This style seems to mediate perceptions of aggressive communication so as to yield more positive than negative outcomes. For instance, individuals who engage in argumentative behavior and do so with an affirming communicator style seem to make the argumentative behavior appear more "palatable". Conversely, if someone engages in argumentativeness according to the second, non-affirming communicator style, which is highly agitated, unfriendly, and innattentive, he or she may be mistakenly regarded as engaging in verbal aggression... These findings have clear implications, underlining the important role of nonverbal behavior in mediating perceptions of constructive and destructive behavior during compliance-gaining attempts. That is, when involved in a persuasive effort, individuals should engage in argumentative behavior but make sure to do so in an affirming (highly relaxed, friendly, and attentive) way.
Burgoon hypothesized that if participants in the study were presented with a pretreatment message of high intensity, they would expect a follow-up message to be of at least equal intensity. However, if the participants' expectations were violated with a message of moderate intensity, they would see the speaker as more "reasonable." As a result, the speaker would be more successful with a follow-up appeal... As predicted, those participants who had heard a message of high intensity and then heard one of moderate intensity were significantly more persuaded than those who had heard a message of moderate intensity followed by another message of moderate intensity... Those participants who heard a message of low intensity followed by a message of moderate intensity were also significantly more persuaded (although the violation was negative) than those who did not have their expectations violated.
It was posited that a hippie arguing against marijuana, the obviously unexpected position, would be seen as more credible than a seminarian making the same, albeit expected, anti-marijuana argument. Conversely, it was hypothesized that when a hippie took the expected pro-marijuana position, he would be less persuasive than a seminarian taking an unexpected, pro-marijuana, position. When a study was conducted, the hypotheses gained only partial support. The hippie putting forth an anti-marijuana argument was more persuasive than the seminarian arguing the same position; however, the seminarian arguing for marijuana was no more persuasive than the hippie putting forth the same argument.
The following propositions of LET's passive paradigm were put forth: Proposition 1: People develop cultural and sociological expectations about language behaviors that subsequently affect their acceptance or rejection of persuasive messages. Proposition 2: Use of language that negatively violates societal expectations about appropriate persuasive communication behavior inhibits persuasive behavior and results either in no attitude change or in changes in position opposite to that advocated by the communicator. Proposition 3: Use of language that positively violates societal expectations about appropriate persuasive communication behavior facilitates persuasive effectiveness. Proposition 7: People in this society have normative expectations about appropriate persuasive communication behavior that are gender specific such that (a) males are usually more persuasive using highly intense persuasive appeals and compliace-gaining message attempts, while (b) females are usually more persuasive using low-intensity appeals and unaggressive compliance-gaining messages.
The research literature, without much sound scientific support, has continually suggested that peers are more effective than authority figures in persuading adolescents about tobacco prevention, alcohol use, and drug uptake. Language expectancy theorists would question such intuitively appealing, but simplistic assessment. Specifically, LET would posit that only those conditions that positively violated expectations would produce desired changes, and those would probably not be most likely in peer-to-peer situations. Rather, it was predicted that students would have their expectations positively violated by the adults who used implicit language, since the notion of adults offering adolescents a choice when it comes to drug use is certainly not the social norm... These findings suggest that not only can the violation of language expectations alter how we perceive the speaker, but the violation can also change our evaluation of what the speaker is speaking about.
When people think of persuasion they think of talk; but there is more to persuasion than words. The unspoken, unwritten messages we send and receive have as much to do with the success of our influence attempts as the words we utter.
Nonverbal immediacy behaviors are nonverbal acts that simultaneously signal warmth, decrease psychological or physical distance between communicators, are interpersonally stimulating, and signal availability for communication. Behaviors like eye contact, touch, and close distance are prototypical examples of nonverbal immediacy behaviors. Overwhelmingly, persuasion research supports the Direct Effects Model of Immediacy, which suggests that warm, involving, immediate nonverbal behaviors significantly enhance the persuasive effects of a message.
The fundamental impulse to trust and comply with people who engage in warm, friendly behavior has been used by persuaders of every stripe to persuade us to comply with their requests. Pretty, smiling actors on advertisements; friendly solicitors for charities; and warm, sincere political candidates are employing the Direct Effects Model of Nonverbal Immediacy. Research shows that increases in nonverbal immediacy, even by total strangers, substantially enhance a persuader's chance of influencing attitudes and changing behaviors.
Studies of eye behavior have provided substantial support for the Direct Effects Model of Nonverbal Immediacy, particularly the persuasive effects of gaze (looking at another person) and eye contact (mutual gaze into one another's eyes). In field studies research has shown that unacquainted persuaders are more effective if they use eye contact... Laboratory studies likewise confirm the Direct Effects Model for gaze. Burgoon found that a person was judged more likely to be hired for a job when gazing than when not gazing. Specifically, they reported that gaze aversion carried very negative meanings and was very unpersuasive, whereas gaze was highly effective in interpersonal persuasion.
Touch, like eye behavior, is generally perceived as a warm, friendly behavior except in situations where the touch is hostile or there is a preexisting negative relationship between the interactants. A large number of studies indicate that touch, even by a stranger, has positive effects on persuasion... Studies of service encounters have shown that waitresses' touch increases compliance behavior.
Kinesics is the study of communication via body movements. One kinesic behavior, the open body position, has been associated with greater immediacy and approachability. Mehrabian reported that open arm and leg positions create positive attitudes in receivers. Morris has shown that kinesic "barrier signals" communicate defensiveness and avoidance, the opposite of the attitudes indicated by open body postures. In a study of opinion change, it was reported that open body positions result in more persuasion than when communicators keep their knees and feet together, arms folded and held close to the body.
The smile is particularly persuasive. Receivers of communication messages are disarmed by a smiling person and more likely to comply with his or her request. Burgoon examined the impact of several kinesic behaviors on persuasion and found that facial pleasantness was most predictive of persuasive success... Part of persuasive immediacy is bodily animation. Burgoon also reported that more overall bodily movement and animation correlated with persuasiveness.
Studies tend to show a positive link between vocal immediacy and persuasion. A series of studies by Buller suggest that vocal immediacy cues, including a pleasant tone of voice and a fast delivery, are linked to greater compliance. Interestingly, these effects are particularly true for individuals who are skilled decoders of nonverbal communication... Current research suggests that a fast, pleasant, vocally varied nonverbal communication style will make verbal communication more persuasive.
Four combinations of touch and gaze were employed and results showed that combined touch and gaze produced increased compliance. The researcher's explanation is that touch and gaze increase both attention and involvement, making noncompliance more difficult... These findings have substantial practical importance for persuasion. When trying to promote positive health behaviors, soliciting for charity, or getting assistance from a stranger, the combination of touch and gaze considerably increases the chances of compliance with one's request.
Research has also shown that individuals use nonverbal communication to resist persuasion. In a study of rejection strategies for flirtatious advances, Trost reported that rejecters avoid nonverbal contact, ignore the persuader, maintain larger personal space, act cold and uninterested, display alternative relational ties (engagement rings), and act nervous and uneasy.
People use simple, obvious, nonverbal cues as shorthand indicators of status and credibility. While evidence has shown that good looks or nice clothes are not an indication of greater competence or credibility, a large body of studies has suggested that we believe that well-dressed, good looking people are smarter, warmer, more honest and therefore more deserving of compliance than less well dressed, unattractive individuals. This is called the "halo effect," whereby one positive quality in a person causes us to assume that the individual has many positive qualities.
People are more likely to comply with respectable and conventional persuaders than with those who appear to be weird and unreliable. Studies reveal that a conventional attire or appearance has more positive persuasive effects than does an unconventional appearance. In general, "dressing up" is recommended for most persuasive situations; people are more likely to comply with high-status people than with low-status ones.
Communication Accommodation Theory deals primarily with the vocalic or paralinguistic effects of nonverbal communication. It posits that listeners perceive speech similar to their own as more attractive, pleasant, intelligible, and persuasive than unfamiliar speech. Furthermore, speakers typically adjust or accommodate their speech to the style or rate of the other interactant, even though most speakers are unaware of this accommodation. Based on this theory, speakers who adjust to the communication of their listeners should be more persuasive... Communicators would probably be well advised to use vocalic cues similar to their persuasive targets to maximize compliance. Speech accommodation is a complex dyadic process in which both interactants adapt to the other's speaking style.
The very terms central and peripheral suggest that one type of communication has more validity than the other. Evidence suggests, however, that intuition about the character, expertise, or competence of a source is an equally valid type of persuasive assessment. Since Aristotle first introduced ethos as a central concept in rhetoric and persuasion, peripheral messages such as source characteristics have been considered a valid and rapid means of assessing the merits of an argument.
Research suggests that nonverbal communication has as much or more persuasive impact than verbal communication and overwhelmingly supports the Direct Effects Model of Immediacy. More immediate, involving communication produces more persuasive impact. Whether nonverbal immediacy is increased in a single channel or in multiple channels, touch, gaze, smiling, and other nonverbal cues have a positive impact on persuasion.
It was Plato's student, Aristotle, who provided the first comprehensive theory of rhetorical discourse. He defined rhetoric in terms of "observing in a given case the available means of persuasion" instructing that the available means encompassed a range of appeals, some grounded in logic (logos), other in emotion (pathos), and still others in the communicator (ethos). In what can be described as a receiver-oriented view of persuasion, Aristotle urged communicators to base judgments about the most appropriate means of persuasion on the nature of the audience.
By the middle of the 20th century, social scientific methods, employing a blend of logically grounded theory plus systematic observation, had grown increasingly prevalent. This development prompted the late Gerald Miller to declare that, despite its origin in ancient Greece, the "systematic empirical study of persuasion is relatively recent..., its roots extending less than 50 years deep."
Mutz maintained that, "Persuasion is ubiquitous in the political process; it is also the central aim of political interaction. It is literally the stuff of politics."... In fact, the concept of civic deliberation, thought by many to be a defining feature of effective democracy, resides beneath the broad umbrella of persuasion.
But just as in the political and legal arenas, the role of persuasion in commerce is not all to the good. Members of the persuasion industries strive to sell particular products through mind-numbing, repetitive exhortation. At both a more subtle and a more powerful level, it has been argued that the persuasion profession "serves not so much to advertise products as to promote consumption as a way of life."
Within each period of heightened activity, the scholarly community's ideas of how rhetoric should be conceptualized and which aspects of it were worthy of study varied a great deal. In every instance, those ideas were molded by the events and problems of the day. Thus, Aristotle identified three sorts of public speaking--deliberative, forensic and epideictic--because, given the culture of Greece at the time he penned the Rhetoric, only these forums were considered worthy of study. And during the Renaissance, rhetoric was viewed primarily as the study of style and delivery, a perspective subsequently taken to excess by members of the elocutionary movement during the 1700s. The lesson here, of course, is that the current study of persuasion is similarly constituted from the complex interactions among culture, history, and research findings.
Persuasive attempts fall short of blatant coercion; persuasion, as typically conceived of, is not directly coercive. Coercion takes the form of guns or economic sanctions, while persuasion relies on the power of verbal and nonverbal symbols... It follows that much persuasive discourse is indirectly coercive; that is, the persuasive effectiveness of messages often depends heavily on the credibility of the threats and promises proffered by the communicator.
It seems useful to conceive of persuasive discourse as an amalgam of logic and emotion while at the same time granting that particular messages may differ in the relative amount of each element. Furthermore, the motivation for distinguishing between conviction and persuasion rests largely on value concerns for the way influence ought to be accomplished; influence resulting from rational reasoned messages is ethically preferable to influence resulting from appals to the emotions--appeals that, in the eyes of some writers, "short-circuit" the reasoning processes.
Thus, the phrase "being persuaded" applies to situations where behavior has been modified by symbolic transactions (messages) that are sometimes, but not always, linked with coercive force and that appeal to the reason and emotions of the person(s) being persuaded.
In popular parlance, "being persuaded" is equated with instances of behavioral conversion; that is, individuals are persuaded when they have been induced to abandon one set of behaviors and to adopt another.
Frequently, individuals possess no clearly established pattern of responses to specific environmental stimuli. In such instances, persuasion takes the form of shaping and conditioning particular response patterns to these stimuli. Such persuasive undertakings are particularly relevant when dealing with persons who have limited prior learning histories or with situations where radically new and novel stimuli have been introduced into the environment.
It remains useful to conceive of response-shaping and conditioning as one behavioral manifestation of "being persuaded." Traditionally, the persuasion literature has characterized this process as "attitude formation," reserving the term "attitude change" for attempts to replace one set of established behaviors with another. From a pragmatic vantage point, messages seeking to shape and condition responses may have a higher likelihood of success than do communications aiming to convert established behavioral patterns.
The response-reinforcing function underscores the fact that "being persuaded" is seldom, if ever, a one-message proposition; instead, people are constantly in the process of being persuaded. If an individual clings to an attitude (and the behaviors associated with it) more strongly after exposure to a communication, then persuasion has occurred as surely as if the individual had shifted from one set of responses to another.
Turning to the interpersonal sphere, close relationships may be damaged, or even terminated, because the parties take each other for granted--in the terminology employed here, fail to send persuasive messages aimed at reinforcing mutually held positive attitudes and mutually performed positive behaviors. In short, failure to recognize that being persuaded is an ongoing process requiring periodic message attention can harm one's political aspirations, pocketbook, or romantic relationship.
In persuasion research, an attitude is an intervening variable; that is, it is an internal mediator that intrudes between presentation of a particular overt stimulus and observation of a particular overt response. Oskamp captured the crux of the matter, stating "In social science, the term attitude has come to mean 'a posture of the mind' rather than of the body."
No matter whether the goal is shaping, reinforcing, or changing responses, both practical and scientific successes hing on careful observation and measurement of persuasive impact.
Attitude Accessibility and Persuasion: The Quick and the Strong, D. Roskos-Ewoldsen, L. Arpan-Raltsin, J. Pierre
In terms of pragmatic outcomes (changing behaviors, creating resistant attitudes), increasing attitude accessibility is probably more important than changing someone's evaluative response to an object... Simply put, when a person has an accessible attitude, that attitude is quickly and relatively effortlessly retrieved from memory when the person is exposed to the corresponding attitude object. Attitudes can range from being automatically accessible from memory to being extremely low in accessibility. Typically, attitude accessibility is measured by the length of time it takes someone to evaluate an attitude object on its presentation. The faster someone can indicate that he or she likes or dislikes the attitude object, the more accessible the attitude is from memory.
Attitude accessibility can influence several steps within the persuasion process, most notably the orienting of attention to a message, how extensively a message is processed, whether the message is processed in a biased manner, and the resulting behavior (which can be either deliberative or spontaneous).
Numerous factors influence what we attend to in the environment. Basic considerations such as whether the stimuli is vivid or moving influence whether out attention is drawn to the stimuli. In addition, recent research suggests that our attitudes can influence what we attend to in the environment... We are constantly bombarded by numerous persuasive messages. Obviously, if a persuasive message is going to influence our attitudes, we must attend to that message at some level.
Accessible attitudes bias how information is processed, and the finding that accessible attitudes influence how information is categorized provides an explanatory mechanism for how accessible attitudes influence the interpretation of information. Research has shown that when a person has an accessible attitude toward an issue, he or she will expend more cognitive effort in interpreting a message about that issue... This attitude-as-information explanation is similar to recent research and theorizing on the effects of mood on judgment that has found that mood can both act as information that influences people's judgments and bias how information is interpreted... Individuals will allocate more attention to the processing of the persuasive message when the activation of an accessible attitude acts as a marker that this is an important message.
The basic idea is that an attitude can affect behavior only if the attitude has been activated from memory. Hence, attitudes that are more accessible from memory are more likely to be activated and influence the behavioral process. To fully understand how attitudes and behavior are related, it is important to note that human behavior is influenced by both reflective introspection and more spontaneous cognitive processes (e.g., heuristic or theory-driven processing).
Roskos-Ewoldsen developed a transactive model of attitude accessibility; the model proposes four basic mechanisms by which attitudes become more accessible: expectations, elaboration, recency of attitude activation, and frequency of attitude activation... When an individual anticipates the need to evaluate an object in the future, the individual should consolidate or develop an attitude toward that object... Thus, the expectation that one would later "need" an attitude resulted in the spontaneous formation of an attitude, and this attitude will be relatively more accessible from memory. .. Systematic or elaborative processing of a message's content has been hypothesized to result in more accessible attitudes from memory due to greater amount of cognitive work involved in such processing, with the result being better integrated attitudes that are more accessible from memory. In short, elaboration of the message's content paves more associative pathways for the given attitude and makes those pathways linked to the attitude stronger... Studies on attitude priming provide evidence that recently activated attitudes can be made temporarily more accessible from memory and can influence the processing of subsequently presented information... A common finding is that the more frequently a concept is activated, the more accessible that concept will be from memory. In addition, asking respondents to make repeated attitude judgments about an object increases accessibility of that attitude toward that object.
The Summation Model maintains that the salient beliefs about the object influence the attitude that is formed. Unfortunately, belief salience is an ambiguous concept. If the Summation Model is going to inform our understanding of persuasion, it is critical to understand what makes a belief salient... Based on developments in cognitive psychology, Roskos-Ewoldsen proposed that it is the accessibility of a belief that determines its role in attitude formation. Specifically, beliefs that are more accessible are more likely to be considered when thinking about or confronting the attitude object.
We argue that social influence should be more concerned with changes in attitude accessibility than with changes in the extremity of attitudes. Indeed, it is possible to increase the accessibility of a person's attitudes without changing the extremity of the person's attitude.
Two persuasive strategies that should enhance attitude accessibility via elaborative message processing are inoculation and two-sided arguments. Inoculation involves exposing audience members to weak attacks on their existing attitudes or beliefs, which causes them to develop resistance to stronger future attacks on those attitudes or beliefs. The initial weak attacks and the sometimes concurrent provision of arguments against the position favored by the upcoming attacks are thought to strengthen message recipients' elaborative network of supportive beliefs... The strategy of presenting audience members with a two-sided, as opposed to a one-sided, argument related to a given issue is posited to increase accessibility and resistance to attitude change in much the same manner as inoculation. Likewise, two-sided messages are more persuasive than one-sided messages.
Emotional appeals should also increase attitude accessibility. Several studies have found that attitudes that are primarily affectively based are more accessible from memory... We would expect that the affective reactions that people have to an object operate as a piece of information that this object is important and that they will need an attitude toward this object in the future. As a consequence, based on this attitudinal information, people will spontaneously form an accessible attitude.
Accessible attitudes are more resistant to attempts at counterpersuasion, longer lasting, better at predicting behavior, and more likely to bias how future information is interpreted.
According to the original version of the theory, the presence of a cognitive inconsistency of sufficient magnitude will evoke an aversive motivational state--dissonance--that drives cognitive work aimed at reducing the cognitive inconsistency... These modes of dissonance may manifest themselves in attitude, belief, value, or behavior maintenance or change. Dissonance reduction will be aimed at altering the cognition least resistant to change.
In the free choice paradigm, developed by Brehm, it is assumed that once a decision is made, dissonance may be aroused. After the person makes a decision, each of the negative aspects of the chosen alternative and the positive aspects of the rejected alternative is dissonant with the decision. By contrast, each of the positive aspects of the chosen alternative and the negative aspects of the rejected alternative is consonant with the decision... Post-decision dissonance can be reduced by subtracting negative aspects of the chosen alternative or positive aspects of the rejected alternative, or it can be reduced by adding positive aspects to the chosen alternative or negative aspects to the rejected alternative.
In the induced compliance paradigm it is assumed that dissonance is aroused when a person does or says something that is contrary to a prior belief or attitude. From the cognition of the prior belief or attitude, it follows that one would not engage in such behavior. On the other hand, inducements to engage in such behavior--promises of reward or threats of punishment--provide cognitions that are consonant with the behavior. That is, these cognitions provide external justifications for the behavior.
In the belief disconfirmation paradigm it is assumed that dissonance is aroused when persons are exposed to information inconsistent with their beliefs. If the dissonance is not reduced by changing one's belief, the dissonance can lead to misperception or misinterpretation of the information, rejection or refutation of the information, seeking support from those who agree with the belief, and attempts to persuade others to accept the belief.
Aronson: "If dissonance exists, it is because the individual's behavior is inconsistent with his self-concept." Aronson thus proposed that a violation of a self-concept was necessary to create dissonance. According to this theory, the self-concepts of morality, competence, and consistency are the self-concepts that serve as the standards against which behavior is compared.
A second motivational explanation of dissonance effects is self-affirmation theory. This revision proposes that the effects observed in dissonance situations are not the result of cognitive inconsistency or self consistency... The self-affirmation revision posits that situations that create dissonance exert their effects because of the threat to the individual's need to perceive oneself as having global integrity, that is, being morally and adaptive adequate in general... Providing persons with an opportunity to affirm their self-integrity reduces the attitude change that typically occurs in the induced compliance paradigm. Steel has argued that these effects result because acting counterattitudinally threatens self-integrity, and the attitude change that is typically observed occurs to reduce this threat to self-integrity. Having persons affirm their self-worth will thus reduce the need to change attitudes.
Results suggest that persons will choose to restore global self-worth following a discrepant action if it is the only available option. However, if given a choice, persons opt for direct discrepancy reduction, suggesting that avoiding discrepancy rather than restoring global self-worth is a more prominent concern of persons in dissonance situations. Thus, the results from these experiments cast doubt on the self-affirmation explanation of dissonance effects.
Cooper and Fazio proposed that for dissonance to occur, individuals must engage in behavior that has the perceived potential to cause an irrevocable unwanted consequence. That is, they asserted that a sense of personal responsibility for producing foreseeable aversive consequences is necessary for dissonance to be aroused.
Most of the revisions concur with the original theory and postulate that the situations that create a discrepancy evoke negative affect and that this negative affect motivates the cognitive and behavioral adjustments found. However, these revisions differ in their explanations of why these situations evoke negative affect and why individuals engage in the cognitive and behavioural adjustments.
When information inconsistent with cognitions that guide action is encountered, an aversive motivational state--dissonance--is aroused because the dissonant information has the potential to interfere with effective and unconflicted action. Thus, cognitive discrepancy may create dissonance because discrepancy among cognitions undermines the potential for effective and unconflicted action.
The original theory proposed that cognitive inconsistency generated an aversive state that motivated cognitive and behavioral changes, wihch often result in persuasion... However, the original theory never clearly specified why cognitive inconsistency generated an aversive motivational response.
Language expectancy theory advances a relatively formalized propositional framework focusing directly on how message features positively or negatively violate (or conform to) macro-level expectations about what constitutes appropriate suasory communication attempts.
Brooks stated: "If the discrepant stimuli cannot be assimilated or ignored, they are likely to be exaggerated in a listener's perceptions... One explanation is this: unfavorable (or favorable) speakers may be perceived more (or less) favorably not because their behavior is intrinsically persuasive (or dissuasive) but because it contrasts with stereotypes expectations which audiences hold."... These comments prompted questions about the nature of what Brooks called stereotypes and about what determines what would later be called expectations.
Prior research bolstered the contention that receivers do have shared expectations about the behaviors a communicator should exhibit. When these expectations are violated, receivers overreact to the behaviors actually exhibited. If a communicator is initially perceived negatively and then demonstrates more positive behaviors than anticipated, receivers overestimate the positiveness of the unanticipated behaviors. The reverse also holds; when an initially positively valenced communicator exhibits unexpectedly negative communication behaviors, receivers tend to exaggerate their negative evaluation of the communicator and/or the message.
Language expectancy theory assumes taht language is a rule-governed system and that people develop macro-sociological expectations and preferences concerning the language or message strategies employed by others in persuasive attempts. These expectations are primarily a function of cultural and sociological norms.
LET posits that changes in the direction desired by an actor occur when positive violations of expectations occur. Positive violations occur (a) when the enacted behavior is better or more preferred than that which was expected in the situation and (b) when negatively evaluated sources conform more closely than expected to cultural values, societal norms, or situational exigencies. Change occurs in the first case because enacted behavior is outside the normative bandwidth in a positive direction, and such behavior prompts attitude and/or behavioral changes. In the second condition, a person who is expected to behave incompetently or inappropriately conforms to cultural norms and/or expected social roles, resulting in an overly positive evaluation of the source and subsequently change advocated by that actor.
LET is a message-centered theory of persuasion that explains why certain linguistic formats in persuasive messages influence persuasive outcomes. The theory makes assumptions about human nature that, in turn, explain the effects of using unconventional language styles on message persuasiveness.
Proposition 1: People develop cultural and sociological expectations about language behaviors that subsequently affect their acceptance or rejection of persuasive messages. Proposition 2: Use of language that negatively violates societal expectations about appropriate persuasive communication behavior inhibits persuasive behavior and results either in no attitude change or in changes in position opposite to that advocated by the communicator. Proposition 3: Use of language that positively violates societal expectations about appropriate persuasive communication behavior facilitates persuasive effectiveness. Proposition 7: People in this society have normative expectations about appropriate persuasive communication behavior that are gender specific such that (a) males are usually more persuasive using highly intense persuasive appeals and compliace-gaining message attempts, while (b) females are usually more persuasive using low-intensity appeals and unaggressive compliance-gaining messages.
When highly intense pretreatment messages are delivered, expectations are induced for highly intense subsequent attack messages. If those expectations are violated, the receiver will be less resistant to the attack messages and persuasion may occur. Thus, a receiver expecting a high-intensity attack message but receiving a more moderate one (a positive violation) may be persuaded by the reasonableness of the moderate message.
It was argued that strategies involving a combination of reinforcing and non-reinforcing communication (reinforcement violations) are more persuasive than continual reinforcement or continual non-reinforcement.
Katz proposed that attitudes serve a knowledge function, helping to organize and structure one's environment and to provide consistency in one's frame of reference. All attitudes likely serve this basic function to some extent. In addition, attitudes likely serve any of a number of other motives. Many attitudes serve a utilitarian function, helping to maximize the rewards and minimize the punishments obtained from objects in the environment. Such utilitarian attitudes serve to summarize the outcomes intrinsically associated with objects and to guide behavioral responses that maximize one's interests.
Attitudes also serve an important social role, aiding in one's self-expression and social interaction. Holding particular attitudes can serve to foster identification with important reference groups, to express one's central values, and to establish one's identity... Finally, attitudes can serve to build and maintain self-esteem in a variety of ways. The original functional theories focused on psychodynamic mechanisms by wh ich attitudes support self-esteem, suggesting that attitudes can serve as defense mechanisms for coping with intrapsychic conflict. The assumption was that attitudes distance the self from threatening out-groups or objects by projecting one's unacceptable impulses onto them. This analysis was particularly pertinent to the conceptualization of prejudiced attitudes and resulted in important contributions in this domain.
Attidues serve a self-esteem maintenance function in other ways as well. Indeed, recent research has shown that attitudes toward a variety of targets are motivated by their implications for self-assessment. For instance, attitudes toward people with whom we affiliate are based in part on their implications for self-enhancing social comparison. Attitudes that associate the self with successful groups may be based on their implications for boosting self-esteem through a process of "basking in reflected glory".
Functional theories held that in order to change an attitude, it is necessary to know the motivational basis for that attitude. The central principle of these theories is that attitudes that serve different functions will change in response to different types of appeals... This matching hypothesis, as it has been called, has received extensive empirical support across studies... For instance, DeBono showed that persuasive appeals are accepted by high self-monitors to the extent that the appeals address the social adjustive function (e.g., messages about the consensus of their peers).
What processes underlie this matching effect? A variety of answers to this question have been offered. Lavine showed that the effect can be mediated by the perception that functionally matched messages are higher in quality. In other words, matched messages may induce favorably biased processing of their content.
We would expect person impressions to be based on attitudes to the extent that the attitude object engages a social identity function... Results suggest that when seeking to form a careful evaluation of a target person, social identity attitudes are seen as more informative for that evaluation than are utilitarian attitudes. In summary, perceivers can and will infer individuating information about a person from his or her attitudes.
The long-term effects of a given message strategy on persuasion likely depend as much on competitor's actions as on the processing of the focal message. The result is that a communication strategy (e.g., matching the appeal to the functional basis of the attitude) that appears to work in an absolute sense might not work in a competitive atmosphere... In a competitive situations, marketing managers are concerned with finding the appropriate "positioning" for their brand relative to other brands. In this context, differentiation is the key concern, and appealing to a novel goal can be a viable approach... Would functionally mis-matched messages elicit greater attention and elaboration than matched messages under such competitive conditions?
The Elaboration Likelihood Model: Its Impact on Persuasion Theory and Research, S. Booth-Butterfield, J. Welbourne
Rather than focusing on source, message, or receiver variables in and of themselves, the ELM focuses on the processes by which these aspects of a message influence people to change their attitudes. Specifically, the ELM posits that attitude change may occur through one of two different routes: the central route or the peripheral route. Central route processing produces attitude change based on careful evaluation of the arguments contained within a message, whereas persuasion via the peripheral route is associated with less thoughtful processing, such as a reliance on cues or heuristics that are unrelated to the actual merits of the message (e.g., the message is associated with an attractive source).
If motivation and ability to elaborate is high, central processing of the message will occur; a person will carefully scrutinize the merits of the message. If motivation and/or ability to elaborate on the merits of the message is low, a person will be less likely to engage in thoughtful evaluation of the message; instead, his or her attitude toward the message will be based on less thoughtful, peripheral route processes.
Central route elaboration goes beyond simply paying attention to or comprehending the arguments contained in the message; elaboration involves generating one's own thoughts in response to the information to which one is exposed... Therefore, a person processing a persuasive communication through the central route would generate many of his or her own thoughts in response to the arguments contained in the communication.
Although central processing is characterized by careful scrutiny of the message, this does not imply that attitude change through the central route is always based on objective reasoning. The authors of the ELM suggest that the central route can be characterized by either objective or biased elaborative processing... For instance, if a person is motivated to form an unfavorable attitude toward a communication (due to vested interest), elaborative thought might take the form of effortful counterarguing against the arguments contained in the communication rather than an objective evaluation of the merits of the communication.
Regardless of whether elaborative processing is objective or biased, attitudes formed through the central route should be distinguished from those formed through the peripheral route by their strength. The ELM proposes that central route persuasion results in attitudes that are more resistant to counterpersuasion, persistent over time, and predictive of future behavior than are those formed through peripheral processes... Because the person processing the message through the peripheral route is engaging in less elaborative thought, the resulting attitude change is less likely to be based on the merit of the arguments than for the person engaging in central route processing... Similarly, attitudes formed through the peripheral route may be based on a cue that is irrelevant to the content or merit of the communication.
In addition to the use of heuristics or cues during peripheral processing, there are other processes that could potentially occur as part of the peripheral route to persuasion. For instance, classical conditioning, or learning to associate affect with previously neutral objects is a relatively effortless process that may occur during peripheral processing of a message. Similarly, self-perception, or inferring one's attitudes from one's behavior, and mere exposure, or forming more positive attitudes due to repeated exposure to the attitude object, both are processes that require little elaborative effort and are therefore likely to occur via the peripheral route to persuasion.
Involvement as Goal-Directed Strategic Processing: Extending the Elaboration Likelihood Model, M. Slater
In teaching and explaining involvement, the fundamental proposition is that the nature of the processing of a message and its resulting impact depends on the recipient's involvement with the message.
Research suggests that people are "cognitive misers." That is, people do not tend to exert more mental effort than is necessary to achieve a task... What we attend to in a message, and the kind of attention we bring to bear, depends on why we are processing the message in the first place.
Involvement has been defined in operational terms as thoughts relating personal experience and message content or as links between information presented and central values. These approaches are invaluable as a starting point by focusing research attention on the recipients existing beliefs, values, and priorities as a filter through which message content is processed.
Johnson and Eagly identified three types of involvement: outcome relevant, or involvement due to personal consequences related to the topic; value relevant, or involvement arising from message context that impinges on personal value systems; and impression relevant, or involvement resulting from the possibility of social interaction related to message content.
Counterarguments and source derogation should dominate thought elaboration as a function of the intensity of the opposing values held and the intensity with which contrary values are espoused in the message. Increased argument strength should also tend to increase counterarguing; the greater the processing intensity, the less effect of the message on beliefs.
The potential for persuasive impact of narratives is considerable indeed given people's inclination to engage with a compelling narrative regardless of topic and the likelihood that counterarguing will be inhibited. Moreover, a persuasive case can be made not by verbal argument but by modeling expressed attitudes and behaviors, their consequences, and the reactions of others in a way that closely mimics social reality.
Results suggest that statistical evidence is superior for reinforcing beliefs of those already inclined to believe the message, and anecdotal evidence is superior for influencing a much more difficult audience--those who disagree with the message... That is, value-affirmative processors presumably used statistics to buttress their beliefs, and value-protective processors used statistics as an opportunity to rehears counterarguments. The surprise was the impact of anecdote on the value-protective processors--although perhaps it should not have been a surprise given how narrative (and anecdotes are very brief narratives) should tend to circumvent counterarguing.
The Heuristic-Systematic Model of Social Information Processing, A. Todorov, S. Chaiken, M. Henderson
People rarely process information in perfect conditions. There are both environmental and cognitive constraints on information processing... Consistent with this assumption the HSM posits that people engage in systematic processing of persuasive information only when they are sufficiently motivated. In a systematic mode, people consider all relevant pieces of information, elaborate on these pieces of information, and form a judgment based on these elaborations. However, if people are not sufficiently motivated or do not have sufficient cognitive resources, they can engage in superficial or heuristic procsesing of available information. In a heuristic mode, people consider a few (or even a single) informational cue, and form a judgment based on these cues... Furthermore, people may be completely unaware of their heuristic processing. In fact, they may deny that they were influenced by peripheral informational cues that seem irrelevant to the advocated position.
How the modes of processing interact depends on the implications of the information brought to mind by heuristic and systematic processing and on the ambiguity of the persuasion message... When the judgmental implications of heuristic cues and arguments are consistent, heuristic and systematic processing can have independent and additive effects on persuasion. This is the additivity hypothesis of the model... The attentuation hypothesis of the HSM states that in a situation where the implications of heuristic and systematic processing can overwrite or attenuate the impact of heuristics given that people are sufficiently motivated... The bias hypothesis states than an ambiguous persuasion message can be interpreted in line with a preceding heuristic cue even if people are highly accuracy motivated. For example, the same ambiguous message can be interpreted differently if the person believes the message source is reliable than if the person believes that the source is unreliable... Contextual cues can affect person perception when information about the person is ambiguous. More important, this research has demonstrated that the effect of contextual cues on perception is implicit. That is, people are not aware of the biasing effect of context, believing that their perceptions are a veridical reading of reality.
The likelihood of systematic processing can be enhanced not only by increasing the person's desired confidence but also by reducing the person's actual confidence... Accuracy-motivated people strive to achieve valid attitudes that are consistent with reality. Accuracy-motivated processing can be characterized as an open-minded processing in which persuasion information is treated even-handedly. The most important objective for an accuracy-motivated person is to make judgments that square with the relevant objective facts. Two things should be noted about accuracy motivation. First, accuracy motivation does not exclude biased processing. For example, systematic processing can be biased by prior knowledge or by prior heuristic cues... Second, accuracy can be achieved either by systematic processing, heuristic processing, or both. Although heuristic processing can lead to less accurate judgments than systematic processing, heuristics are grounded in experience and under certain conditions can be accurate.
In contrast to accuracy motivation, defense motivation can be characterized as a close-minded form of processing... Defense-motivated people strive to defend beliefs and attitudes that are consistent with the person's vested interest or self-definitional attitudes and beliefs. Self-definitional attitudes and beliefs are closely tied to the self. For instance, these can include values and personal attributes. The defense-motivated person tries to preserve one's self-concept and associated worldviews. The processing objective in defense motivation is to confirm the validity of preferred attitudinal positions and to disconfirm the validity of nonpreferred attitudinal positions.
The HSM predicts that when defense motivation is high and people have sufficient cognitive resources, they will engage in systematic but biased processing of the information. Information congruent with the preexisting attitudes will be rated favorably, and information incongruent with these attitudes will be scrutinized to be disconfirmed... Heuristic cues incongruent with the person's preferred position would reduce the person's actual confidence, thereby extending the confidence gap. Thus, the person should engage in biased systematic processing to reduce this gap. Alternatively, heuristic cues congruent with the person's position can increase the person's actual confidence so that little confidence gap exists, and thus the person may engage in little (if any) systematic processing.
Impression motivation refers to the desire to express socially acceptable attitudes or attitudes and beliefs that satisfy the person's immediate social goals. The processing objective of impression motivation is to assess the social acceptability of alternative positions... For example, people may use the heuristic "Moderate opinions minimize disagreements" if they expect to interact with a person with unknown views. Alternatively, if the expected interaction partner has known views, people may use the heuristic "Go along to get along."
A number of studies have shown that the disambiguation of social information can be an implicit process. In fact, even contextual cues that are presented subliminally affect interpretation of ambiguous information. Based on this research, there are good reasons to assume that heuristic cues can implicitly bias the interpretation of ambiguous persuasion messages. This can have important practical implications.
Heuristic processing does not mean inaccurate judgmental outcomes... Indeed, one can make the counterintuitive prediction that heuristic processing can lead to more accurate judgments than can systematic processing under some conditions... Under conditions of limited cognitive resources, focusing on a single subset of relevant cues may lead to more efficient and more accurate judgments than using a strategy that integrates relevant and (often times) irrelevant cues.
Brehm's theory was among the first to suggest that any message aimed at changing one's current attitudes and behaviors might, in fact, be perceived as a threat to freedom, whether in the best interest of the intended persuadee or not. When people perceive that freedoms are being threatened, psychological reactance is claimed to result. This reactance can result in a variety of responses including simply ignoring the persuasive attempt, derogating the source, and even producing even more of the undesired behaviors as a means of demonstrating choice or restoring attitudinal freedom.
People do not appreciate being told how they should behave, especially in areas where they feel it is simply no one else's business. People at different developmental strategies value independence and freedom and tend to reject many, if not most, authority-based appeals. Members of specific groups can be resistant to any appeal that they consider to be even remotely controlling.
The theory of psychological reactance is a theory of social influence that focuses on how individuals act when their realm of free behavior is limited. A form of psychological arousal, reactance is considered a motivational state directed toward the reestablishment of free behaviors that have been eliminated or threatened with elimination. According to psychological reactance theory, persuasive communication poses a potential threat to freedom. Essentially, reactance is motivated by the individual's basic need for self-determination in effecting his or her own environment.
The theory predicts that when an individual's perceived freedom is threatened by a proscribed attitude or behavior, the individual will experience a motivating pressure toward reestablishing the threatened freedom. One way to restore the freedom is to engage in the forbidden behavior or to embrace the attitude threatened by the proscription.
Brehm hypothesized that the strength of psychological reactance is manifested in the positive relationship between the degree of threat to a behavior and the importance of the behavior... In addition, reactance may often be followed by aggression or hostility aimed at the threatening agent. In this instance, the response would also be expected to include the concomitant negative message evaluation related to source derogation as a potent form of restoration.
Research shows that when an individual must decide between two or more choices and is pressured to make a specific choice, reactance will result. Furthermore, if the individual has decided on one choice and is then told to make the same choice, he or she will be more inclined to change the decision in order to assert the freedom to choose.
Threats of great magnitude often create so much difficulty in exercising a freedom that it is effectively eliminated. With such events, the freedom is given up and reactance within the individual dissipates. If someone is asked at gunpoint to give his or her wallet to a total stranger, the individual will not likely be greatly motivated to restore his or her freedom to keep the wallet.
It is important to acknowledge that, first of all, only certain types of persuasive messages arouse reactance and, equally important, reactance effects may be most prevalent in certain sub-populations... For example, it is apparent that reactance may be quite prevalent among subgroups whose members (a) hold self-determination to be very important, (b) see that target behaviors are being chosen for attack, and (c) feel confident that they have sufficient knowledge on which to base decision.
It is expected that the strength of a freedom will be positively correlated with its importance to the individual. The interesting aspect of freedom strength is that it may limit the amount of reactance that can be aroused by any given threat... While the loss of freedom should arouse some reactance, the current view of the theory emphasizes that a person will give up a freedom when it is clear there is no way to recover it. Presumably, then, the reactance that occurs from the loss dissipates once the freedom in reality is abandoned.
Research indicates that a participant's awareness of the intent to persuade on the part of the influencing agent will result in less message acceptance. Conversely, the less explicit the intent, the more receptive the participant will be to the influence. Thus, perceived persuasive intent along with explicitly persuasive messages may result in powerful threats to freedom... Accordingly, it is predicted that implicit messages delivered by peers will produce less message and source derogation, less seeking of counterattitudinal information, and less intent to engage in counteradvocated behaviors in adolescents than will explicit messages delivered by authority figures.
Lumsdain and Janis found that two-sided messages were more effective than one-sided messages in producing "sustained opinion change" in receivers who subsequently encountered counterarguments. They speculated that two-sided messages "inoculated" against attitude change.
The selective exposure argument was based on two assumptions: that people are attracted to information that supports existing attitudes and that people purposely avoid information that disagrees with their attitudes. McGuire thought that selective exposure rendered most attitudes overprotected and, thus, candidates for inoculation. However, research findings cast doubt on the validity of the selective avoidance assumption of selective exposure.
The inoculation approach is based on the assumsption that refutational pretreatments, which consist of counterarguments challenging a person's attitude and responses to those counterarguments, threaten people. Due to the production of threat, refutational pretreatments motivate people to protect their attitudes, which elicits resistance.
Threat motivates receivers to recognize the vulnerability of their attitudes to conceivable challenges and unleashes an "internal process." Threat is operationalized as a warning of possible future attacks on attitudes and the recognition of attitude vulnerability to change. Threat elicits the motivation to protect attitudes and, thus, cultivates resistance to counterpersuasion.
Refutational preemption consists of advancing, and answering, specific assaults on attitudes. The two components, threat and refutational preemption, work in tandem: first threat and then refutational preemption. Refutational preemption provides scripts; threat provides motivation.
Pfau claimed that threat requires optimal receiver involvement levels. If receiver involvement levels are too low or too high, the threat component of an inoculation treatment might not be capable of eliciting the additional motivation required to further protect attitudes.
Researchers have argued that central or systematic message treatments should be more effective than peripheral message treatments in inoculation. In addition, they reasoned that receiver need for cognition and involvement would be positively related to resistance because both facilitate the receiver's cognitive effort.
Until recently, all research on inoculation had assumed that the process of resistance is cognitive. However, recent studies have introduced affect to inoculation in an efort to further understand the process of resistance... For example, researchers proposed that anger would play an integral role in the inoculation process... It was found that threat is positively related to anger and that anger is positively related to counterarguing and resistance.
Video inoculation messages confer resistance to influence uniquely through a process that relies heavily on source factors. These results suggests that print emphasizes message content, while video emphasizes source factors. Furthermore, it was found that video treatments conferred immediate resistance, whereas print treatments required time to induce resistance.
Studies suggest that the refutational two-sided approach is superior to the one-sided supportive approach... Swinyard provided evidence from the context of commercial advertising that two-sided messages actually suppress a receiver's counterarguments, which results in greater resistance to persuasion.
Inoculation may be a promising alternative proactive approach in crisis communication. Inoculation treatments, in this context, would raise potential organizational vulnerabilities and then refute them by explaining actions the organization is taking to address these vulnerabilities. This proactive method may prove to be more effective in producing resistant attitudes than the more accepted approach of attempting to induce a positive image of the organization.
Lin's study indicated that inoculation was able to enhance attitude strength. People receiving an inoculation treatment became increasingly confident in their attitudes, expressed greater willingness to verbalize their attitudes, and showed increased likelihood of resisting counterattitudinal attacks... Inoculation is appropriate for any context where strongly held attitudes are vulnerable to challenge.
Emotions are generally viewed as internal mental states representing evaluating reactions to events, agents, or objects that vary in intensity. They are generally short-lived, intense, and directed at some external stimuli... General consensus suggests that emotion is a psychological construct consisting of five components: (a) cognitive appraisal or evaluation of a situation; (b) the physiological component of arousal; (c) motor expression; (d) a motivational component; and (e) a subjective feeling state.
Functional emotion theories are based largely on Darwin's seminal work, in which he argued that behaviors in response to emotional feelings serve adaptive functions developed through evolutionary processes... First, emotions have inherent adaptive functions. Second, emotions are based on events that are personally relevant. Third, each emotion has a distinctive goal or motivation represented in its state of action readiness or tendency to action desiged to arouse, sustain, or direct cognitive and/or physical activity. Fourth, emotions are organizers and motivators of behavior.
In accordance with this paradigm, several emotions--including fear, anger, sadness, disgust, guilt, and joy--are commonly agreed to be discrete. That is, they have unique appraisal patterns, motivational functions, and behavioral associations.
Fear is generally aroused when a situation is perceived as both threatening to one's physical or psychological self and out of one's control. Threatening situations can be either innate or learned, and individuals' thresholds for fear are determined by biological factors and sociocultural context as well as individual differences and experiences... Those experiencing fear desire protection. Subsequent message processing and acceptance are contintent on the level of fear experienced and perceived usefulness of the message-related information in offering the desired protection.
Guilt arises from one's violation of an internalized moral, ethical, or religious code. Although causes of guilt vary widely across religions and cultures, guilt is usually experienced in the context of an interpersonal relationship and serves a relationship-enhancing function. Characterized by gnawing feeling that one has done something wrong, guilts' associated action tendency is to atone or make reparation for the harm done and perhaps to seek punishment for one's wrongdoing... The literature suggests that guilt can enhance attainment of persuasive goals if evoked at moderate levels. Messages designed to evoke high levels of guilt may instead arouse high levels of anger that may impede persuasive success.
Anger is generally elicited in the face of obstacles interfering with goal-oriented behavior or demeaning offenses against oneself or one's loved ones. Anger is associated with highly focused attention and a desire to strike out at, attack, or in some way get back at the anger source... Anger arousal can prompt closer information processing for unfamiliar topics and under conditions of uncertainty regarding message conent.
Sadness is elicited by physical or psychological loss or separation, either real or imagined, or by failure to achieve a goal. Those experiencing sadness feel isolated, wistful, and a sense of resignation, and their action tendency is really one of inaction or withdrawal into themselves to solicit comfort or dwell on that which was lost. Sadness motivates problem-solving activity by forcing people to focus inward for possible solutions and/or to passively invite help from others... However, chronic sadness, or depression, may invite maladaptive outcomes.
Disgust is aroused by objects or ideas that are either organically or psychologically spoiled (certain foods, body products, sexual behaviors, moral offenses), disgust is understood to result from the closeness or ingestion of a noxious object or idea. Those experiencing disgust feel nauseous or queasy and, consequently, are motivated to turn away from or defend against the object of disgust.
Envy is stimulated when we crave what another possesses; thus, its subjective feeling is one of yearning, and its action tendency mobilizes one to seek out what is coveted. Indirectly influenced by both social psychological and cultural factors, envy can promote positive outcomes if we are motivated to increase our own efforts to accomplish, but if we are thwarted from achievement, envy can lead to unhappiness, resentment, and ultimately rejection.
Happiness can be seen as the state of gaining or making progress toward what one desires... An indicator that we are secure in our world and have positive expectations of the future, happiness generates feelings of confidence, expansiveness, and openness, and it promotes trusting and sharing behavior. Because people tend to be attracted to those who exude happiness, its adaptive function can be seen as promoting and maintaining strong social bonds.
Pride is characterized by an increase in perceived self-worth as a consequence of taking credit for an achievement--either one's own or that of someone with whom one identifies... Although the expression of pride may enhance self-esteem, it may also evoke resentment in those less fortunate or less recognized.
Relief is unique as a positive emotion in that it occurs only after a goal-incongruent condition has been resolved. Thus, its eliciting condition may be considered the alleviation of emotional distress. Relief's subjective feeling is one of release of muscle tension, and its associated action tendency is one of inaction.
Hope represents a desire for a better situation than what currently exists, often when the odds are against a positive outcome. Hope is sustained in light of uncertain future expectations and is associated with a feeling of yearning... Whereas hope often helps to mitigate (but not alleviate) emotional distress, taken to the extreme, it may prevent one from striving to achieve more realistic goals.
Compassion is signified by an altruistic concern for another's suffering and the desire to relieve it. When experiencing compassion, one feels the desire to reach out and assist those in need; however, to become too close could lead to overwhelming feelings of distress.
Emotions may serve as heuristics, or cognitive rules of thumb, guiding decisions with minimal information processing or thought... Although each discrete emotion can serve this function, current evidence allows us to state with confidence that only positive emotions or extreme emotional arousal likely promotes heuristic decision making... Emotions can also stimulate careful information processing. Researchers true to the cognitive response tradition of persuasion argue that under conditions of moderate or high elaboration, emotions influence the direction or depth of information processing, respectively... Emotions mays also promote selective information processing. Nabi argued that emotions can be conceptualized as frames or perspectives infused into messages that promote the salience of selected pieces of information over others and thus encourage different problem definitions, causal interpretations, and/or treatment recommendations.
Reactance theory suggests that when people perceive their attitudinal freedoms to be restricted, they reassert those freedoms by clinging to their attitudes, perhaps even more strongly than before. From an appraisal theory perspective, freedom restriction is a prime anger elicitor. Thus, it is entirely likely that the fundamental mechanism underlying reactance findings is anger arousal. In fact, the research on unintentional anger arousal suggests taht it is the sense of being manipulated by a persuasive message that underlies the negative relationship between anger and attitude change.
Relative to neutral mood participants, those in the postive mood condition recalled fewer arguments, were less sensitive to the argument strength manipulation, and were more sensitive to the source cue manipulation. Overall, the evidence suggested that positive mood dampened systematic processing. From these and other findings, researchers concluded that positive moods consume cognitive capacity, thereby constraining participant's ability to engage in systematic message procsesing.
The notion that positive mood participants might have suffered motivational deficits provides the cornerstone to an alternative explanation. The mood-as-information hypothesis suggests that affective states may function as heuristics conveying to individuals whether there is a need to process the message carefully. A positive mood may signal that all is well, and by implication so is the advocacy of the suasory appeal. By contrast, a negative mood gives notice that something is amiss.
The mood management position provides another an gle on this literature. In this view, message recipients make careful decisions regarding message processing with an eye toward maintaining or improving their affective state. Persons in a positive mood are expected to be quited discriminating about the messages they choose to engage because there are so many wayas in which their state of elation might be disrupted. They are all likely to avoid (i.e., superficially process) depressing topics, loss-framed messages, and counterattitudinal claims. However, a positive mood might encourage systematic processing if the message recipient believes that close analysis would make him or her feel better. By contrast, a very sad mood should encourage systematic processing more generally. Affectively speaking, there is nothing left to lose and much to be gained.
Phonology deals with a language's sound system and how sounds are combined into meaningful units. Syntax addresses the rules underlying the construction of sentences. The lexicon originally referred to the vocabulary of a language... Texts or narratives are "self-contained units of discourse," usually with some form of internal organization.
The central question that scholars of language and persuasion address is deceptively simple: What effects do variations in the phonological, syntactical, lexical, textual, and use elements of a message have on persuasion? Two aspects of the question are critical. First, what language variations are important? The second critical element is what aspects of the persuasion process tehse language variations effect. Most research assumes that language variations affect one of three elements of the persuasion process: judgments of the speaker, message comprehension or recall, or attitude toward the message.
Numerous studies have focused on judgments of the speaker. The assumption is that language variation affects the impression formation process, and in a persuasion context an important impression affected is that of the speaker. Language variations may affect listeners' judgments of a speaker's source credibility, attractiveness, likability, and/or similarity.
Certain sound combinations may have different outcomes for the persuasion process than do others... Most important for the persuasion process is the claim that "phonetic attributes might contribute to the perception of a name as attractive or powerful." At least at the level of impression formation, a speaker's name might have persuasive implications.
Sentences with more complex grammatical structures would be expected to be more difficult to understand or comprehend. This comprehension difficulty could affect the persuasion process negatively, presumably because comprehension of a message is an antecedent to persuasion or attitude change.
Lexical diversity refers to the vocabulary richness or vocabulary range that speakers exhibit and is assessed via a type-token ratio--the number of different words in a message (types) divided by the total numer of words (tokens). A low TTR means that a speaker's vocabulary is relatively redundant, while a high TTR means that it is relatively diverse... Listeners prefer complexity because it is interesting, and lexical diversity should be preferred because it represents more complex lexical choice... Lexical diversity was found to be directly related to judgments of a speaker's competence and socioeconomic status and to perceptions of message effectiveness... The preference for complexity principle would suggest that high lexical diversity would have a positive effect on the persuasion process.
Verbal imagery refers to the ability of words to elicit images in listeners... Typically, concrete words, use of detail, and/or emotional language should elicit more images or be more vivid than should abstract or unemotional language. Similarly, one would expect verbal imagery or vividness to have more of a positive impact on persuasion than would pallid language. Vivid language should be more memorable and accessible and should more favorably influence attitude change than should pallid language.
Language intensity increases perceived speaker dynamism. In turn, speaker dynamism increases perceived message clarity. Speaker dynamism apparently increases receivers' interest in the message, causing receivers to focus more on the message and increasing its clarity. Message clarity was positively related to perceived source competence, which in turn was positively related to perceived source trustworthiness. Finally, perceived source trustworthiness was positively related to attitude toward the source.
When a message was attitudinally discrepant, language intensity's effect was dependent on a receiver's ego involvement. With a receiver high in ego involvement, language intensity had a negative relationship with attitude toward the source. When the receiver was low in ego involvement, language intensity positively affected attitude toward the source.
One choice communcators have to make is how clear or how vague to be in a persuasion context... Ambiguity, for example, helps to build consensus on abstract goals, such as a mission statement, while simultaneously allowing for individual interpretations of these goals.
Williams found that equivocal, attitudinally incongruent messages led to higher ratings of speaker character, greater message acceptance, and greater recall of argument content than did unequivocal, attitudinally incongruent messages. These results suggested that receivers could easily reject clear, attitudinally incongruent messages but that receivers could not as easily reject vague, attitudinally incongruent messages.
Studies have found that participants perceive speakers exhibiting a powerful style as more credible, attractive, sociable, and dynamic than speakers exhibiting a powerless style... Participants perceive speakers exhibiting hedges and hesitations as less credible, attractive, and dynamic than speakers not using them. Polite forms, however, constitute something of an exception... Most of the research shows that a powerful speech style will enhance a speaker's perceived credibility, attractiveness, dynamism, and sociability, and to the extent these impressions will positively affect attitude change, a powerful style should be more persuasive.
Expectation violation theory contends that listeners develop expectations about the language persuaders should use. When speakers violate these expectations by using language that is unexpected, listeners will evaluate them negatively. If, for example, listeners expect high-status speakers to speak with high lexical diversity and they do not, then listeners may perceive the speakers as having low source credibility.
A metaphor is customarily defined as a linguistic phrase of the form "A is B," such that a comparison is suggested between the two terms leading to a transfer of attributes associated with B to A... Simile, analogy, and personification, albeit different in some surface respects, cognitively function similar to metaphor in that all three also involve comparison of concepts or systems of concepts. Hence, their study is generally subsumed into that of metaphor.
Natural language is so infused with conventionalized metaphors that it is hard to make any meaningful distinction between metaphorical and literal language.
Metaphor effects on attitude and communicator credibility: Proposition 1: Relative to their literal counterparts, metaphorical messages are more likely to produce greater attitude change. Proposition 2: Use of one metaphor is associated with greater attitude change than is use of larger numbers. Thus, less may be more when it comes to using figurative comparisons in a persuasive message, as there is a decreasing suasory effect with increasing number.
Proposition 3: Extended metaphors are associated with greater attitude change than are nonextended metaphors. Thus, a message intending to use multiple metaphors to affect attitude may be better off using the same base repeatedly than using many distinct bases. Proposition 4: Metaphors are associated with greater attitude change when positioned in the introduction of a message, rather than in the conclusion or the body of the message. Thus, using a metaphor to provide a title to a message or to frame a message at the beginning may be more persuasive than using it to summarize the message.
Proposition 5: Metaphors are associated with greater attitude change when there is high familiarity of the target than when there is low familiarity. Thus, having more, rather than less, familiarity with the target of a metaphor may foster enhanced persuasion. Proposition 6: Metaphors are associated with greater attitude change when more novel than when less novel. Proposition 7: Metaphors in the audio modality are associated with greater attitude change than are metaphors in the written modality.
Proposition 8: Metaphor messages used by low-credibility communicators are associated with greater attitude change than those used by high-credibility communicators. Thus, message sources with low credibility may benefit more from using metaphors to affect attitudes than may message sources with high credibility. Proposition 9: Metaphors are more likely to be effective for enhancing terminal communicator credibility judgment for the dynamism aspect than for competence and character aspects.
How does metaphor achieve its suasory outcomes? There are five general views of metaphor and persuasion available in the existing literature that try to explain this process: pleasure/relief, communicator credibility, cognitive resources, stimulated elaboration, and superior organization... Osborn proposes that communicators who use metaphors are judged more credible than are those who use literal language. In turn, this enhanced source judgment leads to greater persuasion by making the attitude toward the message advocacy more positive... Thus, people who use metaphors are perceived as highly creative and are judged quite positively... Whaley proposed that understanding analogies stimulates thought through a focus on similar target-base relations and hence the evoking of a richer set of associations in semantic memory compared to literal language. This greater number of semantic connections produces greater elaboration of message content, which in turn leads to increased persuasion given suitable processing conditions... The superior organization view proposes that a metaphor helps to better structure and organize the arguments of a persuasive message relative to literal language... Consequently, this more coherent organization, and the resulting highlighting of the arguments, increases the persuasive power of metaphor-using messages.
The first category (appeals to attraction, similarity, intimacy, and trust) relies on establishing a favorable interpersonal relationship or fostering credibility and so could be related to a host of theories on interpersonal attraction, identification, relational communication, self-presentation, and image management... although other theories of attraction and relational development, such as uncertainty reduction theory and social penetration theory, could also be applied to the understanding of nonverbal behavior and favorable interpersonal relations.
The second category, that of dominance and power displays, is likewise broad enough to include not only matters of credibility and image management but also learning theory principles of rewards, threats, and punishments as well as ethological and organizational theories of power hierarchies... The final category encompasses a constellation of theories concerned with how interpersonal expectancies are formed and signaled and the effects of confirming or violating those expectations.
Source attractiveness enhances persuasion independent of argument quality, expertise, and trustworthiness. Similarity between a source and target is also a strong determinant of attraction... Attraction is a positive attitude or predisposition to respond to another in a positive way.. Similarity variously refers to sharing attitudes, background, values, knowledge, or communication styles in common. Because theories of attraction typically invoke each other, the two constructs are inevitably linked.
According to Heider's balance theory, people are motivated to hold consistent attitudes in their point of view toward other people and toward certain attitudinal objects. People tend to like others who exhibit signs of similarity because it is reinforcing to their own self-concept and helps them to predict and understand similar others. Thus, people should desire to hold an attitude toward a particular stimulus that is similar to that of a liked other or dissimilar to that of a disliked other... If a source's nonverbal behaviors are immediate and likeable, we may be particularly motivated to hold attitudes similar to those that the source expresses.
Duck highlighted the role of nonverbal behavior in making similarities "declared" by stating, "We never see the internal states of other persons directly, so we only infer them from nonverbal and verbal behaviors... Because of this, the two people's readings of each other's nonverbal behavior will be critical to this inference process and highly significant in acquaintance." Nonverbal behaviors are essentially viewed as a fundamental means by which people infer similarity with another person. Recognition of this similarity, in turn, fuels attraction and enhances the ability to influence.
People tend to respond positively to others who adopt a nonverbal, particularly vocalic, style that is similar to their own. Listeners perceive non-verbal behavior that is similar to their own as more attractive and pleasant. As speakers adjust their behavioral style to one that is similar to targets, the targets are expected to respond positively despite being unaware of this accommodation on the part of the source. According to CAT, sources who adjust their behavioral style to be increasingly similar to targets should be perceived as more attractive and more persuasive.
Perceived attractiveness is associated with a halo effect, such that receivers ascribe a variety of other positive characteristics, including persuasiveness, to attractive sources. The belief that "what is beautiful is good" is a pervasive, if tacit, stereotype that is triggered by both physical beauty and attractive voices.
Socially skilled individuals convey confidence, friendliness, dynamism, poise, and other favorable attributes through their communicative behavior, and these behaviors are seen as more dominant in interpersonal contexts. Thus, if dominant individuals appear more socially skilled, and socially skilled individuals are seen as more attractive, then dominant nonverbal behavior combines power and attraction, making it a doubly effective way to influence others.
Physical appearance, artifacts, gaze, and proximity may serve not only as behaviors that enhance attraction and similarity during an interaction but also as pre-interactional elements in that they may draw people together. In this manner, nonverbal cues may predispose people to interact and be susceptible to influence even before the first word is uttered.
Among the most powerful indicators of attraction are eye contact and mutual gaze. Gaze increases as a function of liking toward the target. Eye contact is both encoded and decoded as a sign of attraction and relational positivity, and its absence is also a good indicator of relational distress. Gaze has a very reliable effect of increasing compliance rates when compared to those who make requests while averting their gaze.
Those who speak at a relatively fast rate with short silent pauses are seen as having more favorable attributes than are those who speak at a slower rate. Silent pauses, filled pauses, and speech hesitations all are negatively correlated with listeners' attraction toward speakers... The association between perceived persuasiveness and greater vocal pleasantness, which is comprised of variables such as fluency and pitch variety, has also been demonstrated.
People generally select closer interacting distances with others who are perceived to be attractive, friendly, and positively reinforcing. Likewise, touch functions to convey liking, affiliation, love, sexuality, and comfort toward receivers... The use of touch has been linked with positive attitude changes toward sources. Patients develop more positive attitudes toward nurses who touch them as compared to nurses who limit their interactions to just verbal behavior... The effects of touch on attraction on the source might even operate outside of conscious awareness.
Evidence suggests that sources dressed similarly to their targets are more persuasive than those dressed differently... This finding suggests that people may be inclined to comply with sources who are dressed similarly to oneself, possibly through the mechaism of identification. For instance, all social groups--from street gangs, to work groups, to entire cultures--rely on clothing, insignias, ownership of certain brand-name products, and the like to symbolize their in-group status. In other cases, high-status clothing, attractive facial features, and conventional appearance have been shown to increase persuasiveness.
Among the different power bases that have been delineated and have implications for nonverbal communication are the five identified by French and Raven. These are reward or coercive power, which represent a person's right to reward and punish; legitimate power, which is power that comes from holding a high-status position that is sanctioned by society; referent power, which is the power that results when others admire and emulate a person; and expert power, which is derived from having expertise in a needed field.
Compliance results when a target accepts the influence in order to gain rewards or avoid punishment. Identification results when a target wishes to be emulated or be identified with an influential other. And internalization results when messages are consistent with the target's value system, often due to reliance on expert or legitimate power... Whereas power may be latent, dominance is necessarily manifest. It refers to context- and relationship-dependent interactional patterns in which one actor's assertion of control is met by acquiescence from another... Status refers to one's position in a socially agreed-on hierarchy that is prevalent in all types of societies, including nonhuman ones. High status often fosters dominance and power because one is endowed with legitimate authority, but it does not guarantee the exercise of power or the display of dominant behavior.
Power is achieved dyadically when one person values exchange with the other and has few alternatives. People often express this power-dependence relationship nonverbally by making themselves appear more attractive as exchange partners, by communicating their interest in building relationships, or by signaling that they are not interested in an exchange.
Dependence power refers to the control that is achieved by being less dependent on another. Punitive power refers to the influence gained by a person perceived as likely to inflict harm. Total power is the sum of each party's absolute power, and relative power is the power difference of each party's absolute power... This makes nonverbal communication so much more important because as power relationships are negotiated over time, much of this negotiation takes place without words. Thus, a handshake, a tone of voice, eye contact, and other nonverbal cues can have a profound effect on the power dynamic between two people.
Status characteristics are any characteristic of actors around which evaluations of and beliefs about them come to be organized. Examples include age, sex, race, ethnicity, education, occupation, physical attractiveness, and intelligence... Specific status characteristics are socially valued skills, expertise, or social accomplishments that imply a specific and bounded range of competencies. Diffuse status characteristics, such as gender and race, are culturally associated with some specific skills but also carry general expectations for competence that are diffuse and unbounded in range.
Dominant behaviors, such as direct eye contact, brief casual touching, voices with great energy and volume, short response latencies, and few disfluencies, are generally seen as more credible because they connote confidence and poise... Dominant individuals have a special capacity to perpetrate convincing deception, that is, they are likely to be viewed as credible even when being deceptive.
Dominant communicators make direct eye contact, have rapid loud delivery, use facial expressiveness, and use few adapters, all of which serve to engender the perception of credibility and to increase compliance... Interactants continually define the degree of dominance or submisiveness in their relationship based on who has the right to direct, delimit, and define the action of the interpersonal system.
Eye contact is a complex way to communicate dominance and status. Staring is used to connote dominance, while averting gaze is likely to communicate submission. Dominant people break eye contact last. At the same time, high-status individuals are generally expected to make less frequent eye contact, especially while listening, and subordinates are required to make eye contact with their superiors as a function of attentive listening.
Relaxation is also a marker of dominance and status. In mixed-status groups, individuals with higher rank typically exhibit postural relaxation (slumping in a chair, putting their feet up on the desk), but individuals with lower rank tend to show more postural restraint... Evidence suggests that pointing at another person, using expressive and expansive gestures, steepling the hands, and using gestures while directing others may be dominant gestures... The person who speaks first in a group interaction typically speaks the most and is perceived as the highest in status...Higher status individuals are afforded more personal space, control access to more desirable territory, and adopt body positions that occupy more space as compared to lower status individuals.
In general, the longer people will wait for us, the more important we are, and the longer amount of time we spend with someone, the more important they are to us... Perhaps it is their attempt to maximize the use of their own time or our perception that people in a hurry are important that leads us to associate these people with credibility.
Expectations are cognitions about the anticipated behavior of others, and it may range from the general to the particular... Two ways in which expectancies translate into nonverbal influence are by (a) signaling expectations to a target, who then meets those expectancies, producing a self-fulfilling prophecy, and (b) violating those expectancies in positive or negative ways that elicit corresponding positive or negative outcomes, including attitude and behavioral change or resistance... Studies have explored the issue of expectancy signaling, and there is substantial evidence that nonverbal cues are pivotal to achieving these behavioral confirmation effects.
Contrary to popular belief, it is sometimes better to violate expectations than to conform to them... Positive violations are hypothesized to produce more favorable results (including more persuasion and compliance), and negative violations are hypothesized to produce less favorable results, than expectancy confirmations. According to this theory, an actor may be better advised to violate norms and expectations than to abide by them so long as the actor knows that the act will be valenced positively. A key factor determining valencing of a violation is communicator reward value, which refers to whether the actor is, on balance, rewarding or unrewarding to interact with.
Nearly constant gaze can be a positive violation but has different intepretations depending on whether it is displayed by a male or a female; high conversational involvement is a positive violation, regardless of the reward level of the actor who commits it, but extreme immediacy may not be so; fleeting touch can be a positive violation if committed by a well-regarded person but is fraught with ambiguities that can make it a risky choice in low-reward, opposite-sex interactions; and gaze aversion and nonimmediacy tend to be negative violations, regardless of who commits them... Immediacy is a potent factor in exercising influence and may do so by signaling positive expectations held by the actor for the target and/or serving as a positive violation of expectations for actor behavior.
In light of research in the sales and marketing arena attests to the value of setting modest (rather than unduly high) expectations so that a delivered product or service then positively violates those expectations, it follows that nonverbal cues could be used to good effect to do the same thing. By leading receivers to have limited expectations about a communicator's abilities, competency, status, or the like, communicators might have greater opportunities to violate those expectations in a positive direction with a well-formulated and argued message.
The Goals-Plans-Action model begins with a simple and well-accepted idea: that message production can be modeled as a sequence involving three components. Goals are the first component. They are defined as future states of affairs that an individual is committed to achieving or maintaining. Goals motivate plans, the second component in the model. Plans are cognitive representations of the behaviors that are intended to enable goal attainment. Whereas goals and plans are cognitive entities, actions exist "in the world." Actions are the behaviors enacted in an effort to realize the goal. The behavioral response of the message target constitutes feedback to the message source that may produce changes in goals and plans.
Although individuals may have many different persuasive goals, research shows that this number is smaller than one might initially think. Although existing research is not without limitations, I believe that the seven goals described (gain assistance, give advice, share activity, change orientation, change relationship, obtain permission, enforce rights and obligations) represent common and recurring influence aims... In the parlance of the GPA model, these goals are primary goals... Primary goals are potential realities that individuals strive to construct. Because primary goals energize cognition and behavior, it can be said that they serve a motivational function... Primary goals also direct a number of mental operations. By providing an understanding of the intended purpose of an interaction, goals determine which aspects of a situation are perceived.
Research on the GPA model supports the existence of five secondary goals. Identity goals focus on ethical, moral, and personal standards for behavior. They arise from individuals' principles and values and, at the broadest level, their self-concept. Although people generally desire to act in accordance with their principles, it is probably not the case that individuals actively consider their identity goals in every interaction... Conversation management goals involve concerns about impression management and face. Though there are certainly exceptions, individuals usually prefer that interactions proceed smoothly than awkwardly and that neither interlocutor present a threat to his or her own or the others' face... Relational resource goals focus on relationship management. They are manifestations of the value that individuals place on desired social and personal relationships. Hence, it is most often the case that people try to maintain or improve their relationships with others... Personal resource goals reflect the physical, temporal, and material concerns of the communicator. More specifically, they arise from the desire to maintain or enhance one's physicall well-being, temporal resources, finances, and material possessions.
The introduction of the concept of secondary goals has at least one broad implication for how we conceive of the task of interpersonal influence. Namely, it suggests that most, and possibly all, interactions involve multiple goals that individuals try to achieve more or less simultaneously... Secondary goals are wants that arise in response to the consideration or adoption of a primary goal... The primary goal defines the situation, while secondary goals are the entailments that follow in its wake. The GPA model holds that understanding the relationship between primary and secondary goals is crucial to explaining planning and action.
Brown and Levinson assert that influence attempts are by their very nature intrusive. If true, then any effort to produce behavioral change in another will necessarily run the risk of threatening that person's autonomy.
Because there are multiple secondary goals, it is likely that some of them create opposition to the primary goal, while others will be irrelevant. Hence, in most instances the set of relevant secondary goals will constitute a counterdynamic to the primary goal... To the extent that concern for the secondary goals outweighs the desire to achieve the primary goal, the individual may view engaging the other as unduly risky and may therefore choose not to engage. Thus, knowledge of the relationship between primary and secondary goals can help explain why individuals make an influence attempt or not.
Research reveals that influence episodes vary in goal structure complexity, in that various episodes comprise greater or lesser number of active goals... The findings also suggest that primary goals with complex goal structures are more difficult to achieve than those with simple structures. Furthermore, we might reasonably expect individuals to be more reluctant to engage another person in a highly complex episode because of the many potential risks of failure.
Explicitness is the degree to which a message source makes her or his intentions transparent in the message itself. Whereas explicit messages require little or no guesswork regarding the speaker's wants, inexplicit messages necessitate more interpretation... Dominance references the relative power of the source vis-a-vis the target as that power is expressed in the message. An expression of dominance in any single utterance need not accurately reflect formal differences in status nor a consensual definition of the source-target relationship. Rather, message dominance simply expresses the source's perception of, or desire for, a particular source-target power relationship.
Argument is defined as the extent to which the message presents a rationale for the sought-after action and refers to the degree to which the source provides explicit reasons for why he or she is seeking compliance, rather than simply making an unelaborated request... Control over outcomes is the fourth and final dimension that characterizes influence plans. The property indexes the extent to which the source can exercise control over the reasons for compliance.
There is evidence that individuals try harder to achieve influence goals that are important to them. As the importance of the primary goal increases, so does the amount of planning and cognitive effort that individuals expend in the service of that goal.
Individuals may become more aggressive because they exhaust their supply of prosocial appeals, or message sources may adjust their standards for behavior in such a way that more aggressive messages are seen as acceptable... People's concern for effectiveness increased as a positive function of number of rebuffs, while their concern for principles and desire to harm the hearer declined. It might be said that resistance increased the importance of the primary goal and decreased the importance of the identity and conversational management goals.
Influence attempts that are high in dominance have negative relational implications. Source dominance correlates negatively with perceptions of liking for the target and with perceived politeness. Conversely, highly dominant influence messages are viewed as illegitimate and as obstacles, two perceptions that typically result in anger.
Higher levels of dominance are associated with higher levels of perceived incompetence regardless of goal complexity. Second, whereas explicitness will not harm competence judgments in the low-complexity clusters, explicitness correlates negatively with competence in the high-complexity clusters. Here we see evidence suggesting that one's ability to formulate inexplicit messages may substantially enhance effectiveness in complex situations.
A compliance tactic called 'bait and switch' refers to when an individual commits to purchasing one item, only to have it replaced by another, more expensive one... Compliance occurs when an individual behaves or responds in a particular way because another individual is encouraging him or her to do so.
The first stage of a sequential request tactic is usually referred to as either the initial or first request. The next request or stage in the process is usually referred to as the second or target request, because it is the request on which the influence agent actually hopes to gain compliance. The first request is what helps to increase the likelihood of the target of influence acquiescing to the target request. This can occur for a number of reasons: the initial request may be too large or may be something that increase the target's commitment to the course of action.
Cialdini determined that six key principles of influence underlie most influence attempts: scarcity, reciprocity, consistency/commitment, authority, social proof, and similarity/liking... When scarcity is used, an item or opportunity is presented as something that is not readily available, either due to low quantity or because the offer is only good for a short period of time... Reciprocity describes influence tactics that work because the influence practitioner has done a favor for or made a concession to the target of influence. Targets are more likely to agree with the request because they feel they "owe" the influence practitioner... Experts can influence us because they are authorities on a topic... Social proof is most successful in situations where we look to others to guide our actions. We choose to engage in a behavior because we believe that others would do the same thing in that situation... Similarity and liking tactics emphasize that the influence agent is likable or similar to us. For instance, a salesperson may state that he or she shares the same hobbies or drives the same car as a potential customer.
In the low-ball technique, an individual agrees to the first request because it is easy to agree to, or is advantageous to him or her. When the opportunity or deal changes to become less desirable, most individuals already feel committed and follow through on that commitment... In addition, the initial request is usually perceived as a "good deal" by the target, and this perception helps enhance his or her commitment... Burger and Cornelius demonstrated that both public and verbal commitment is necessary for this technique to work. Additional research indicates that targets must also feel that they made the initial commitment freely in order to be successfully low-balled.
The foot-in-the-door technique works by asking for something small and building upon that commitment to gain compliance with a larger, usually related request... Freedman and Fraser explained the techniques' effectiveness in terms of self-perception. They concluded that compliance with a small request for a public service action casues a change in the individual's self-perception. This small act of compliance produces a change in self-concept in which the person "becomes in his own eyes, the kind of person who does this sort of thing." Thus, the initial act of compliance makes an individual more likely to agree to a later, larger request... Burger and Caldwell reported that a monetary reward for compliance with the first request reduces compliance with the second request. They explained this finding as indicating that a monetary reward leads people to believe that they agreed to the first request for the money, not because of the kind of people they were... Moreover, individuals with high self-concepts are more likely that those with low self-concepts to experience the resulting change in self-perception that will incline them to agree with the second request... Other processes influence the likelihood of the foot-in-the-door effect. For instance, the greater the action or involvement required to comply with the initial request, the greater the effectiveness of the FITD... Making the target request a continuation of the initial request also increases the effect.
In order for the door-in-the-face tactic to be successful, the influence practitioner has to come up with a request that is so large that most people would not even consider agreeing with it. Once the target rejects the inordinately large request, the influence practitioner concedes and asks the target to agree to a smaller request. In this case, more people will agree with the second request than if they had been presented with that request initially. Most researchers believe that the concession on the part of the influence agent is essential for the DITF tactic to work. That is because the target feels normative pressure to reciprocate the concession of the target.
Inoculation is a strategy for resisting influence attempts. It motivates receivers to bolster their beliefs and attitudes, thereby rendering them less susceptible to influence... McGuire's Inoculation Theory posits that refutational treatments, which both raise and refute counterarguments to a person's attitude, confer resistance to influence.
Inoculation traces its origins to early research on the relative superiority of one- versus two-sided messages. One-sided messages simply reinforce attitudes a person already holds. Two-sided messages raise arguments contrary to a person's attitudes, called counterarguments, and then offer arguments and evidence to refute those counterarguments... Two-sided messages have been found to be superior in producing sustained opinion changes in people who were subsequently exposed to an opposing point of view. Researchers speculated that two-sided messages may "inoculate" people, thereby making them more resistant to counterpersuasion.
Inoculation Theory posists that two components contribute to resistance: threat and refutational preemption. Threat consists of warning a person that his or her existing attitudes are likely to be challenged. For threat to work, these challenges must be sufficiently powerful to make people accept that their existing attitudes may be vulnerable. Thus the threat serves as the motivational trigger in the inoculation model. It motivates the individual to strengthen his or her attitudes, setting in motion the internal process of resistance. The second element, refutational preemption, involves the process of raising, and then answering, specific objections... Threat motivates the individual to bolster his or her attitudes; refutational preemption offers specific content that can be used to protect and defend one's attitudes.
People tend to display greater issue involvement when the outcome of an issue affects them personally. The question examined in the study was whether inoculation's effectiveness hinged on receiver involvement in an issue. Pfau and colleagues speculated that involvement might function as a prerequisite for resistance... Pfau and colleagues reasoned that there is an optimal level of involvement for inoculation to work. If involvement is too low, inoculation cannot generate enough threat; if it is too high, inoculation is unable to generate further threat. In other words, if an individual already cares about an issue, it is difficult to threaten him or her further. The person's high level of involvement already insures that he or she is alert and vigilant to opposing messages.
Inoculation is a preemptive strategy. Inoculation seeks to make potential evaluators resistant to attack messages before the attacks occur... Inoculation is a process that intrinsically involves acknowledging vulnerabilities, based on the rationale that this is the best way to protect against counterinfluence... Inoculation would raise an individual's potential vulnerabilities and them preemptively refute them, delineating what the individual is doing to address these concerns.
Inoculation appears to offer an effective means of bolstering receivers' resistance to opposing messages. Inoculation is particularly useful because it increases resistance not only to the specific arguments included in the inoculation treatment but also to novel arguments on the same topic or issue.
From the social-meaning perspective, the meaning of the persuasive enterprise and its execution are negotiated between the two parties to the relationship. Central to this meaning-making perspective are the identities of the parties and the rights and obligations that guide action in their relationship. The target is not a passive recipient of the persuader's strategic message but an active coconstructer of meaning. The focus of attention, then, is on the communicative exchange between persuader and target.
In one study the sex of the persuader was not shown to be a predictor of using indirect or direct strategies. In heterosexual romantic couples, however, men were more likely than women to report using bilateral and direct strategies. Additionally, in the context of sexual influence strategies, males have been found to be more likely than females to use pressure or manipulation as a persuasive strategy. The relative power of the persuader has also been linked to the type of strategy used. Those with more power in the relationship have reported a greater likelihood of using bilateral and direct strategies when compared to those with less power. Having a position of weakness in the relationship was shown to be associated with the use of weak persuasive strategies (e.g., manipulation), while a position of strength in the relationship was associated with the use of strong persuasive strategies (e.g., bullying).
The literature reports a consistently negative relationship between marital satisfaction and use of indirect persuasive strategies. One study reported that more satisfied spouses were less likely to use indirect strategies than dissatisfied spouses, and a second study reported that dissatisfied spouses more frequently used emotional influence, which the authors deemed to be the most indirect strategy in their study.
The facework approach presupposes that social-influence attempts are socially meaningful in that the parties' images or identities are at stake--what Goffman referred to as "face"... Brown and Levinson identified two kinds of face. Negative face is the desire to maintain one's own autonomy, that is, not having one's privacy invaded, one's resources spent, and one's actions constrained. Positive face is the desire to have one's attributes and actions approved of by significant others. Subsequent research has subdivided positive face into two components: fellowship face, the desire to be liked and included by others; and competence face, the desire to have one's abilities and actions respected and valued.
According to Brown and Levinson, directives intrinsically threaten a target's negative face because an attempt is being made to constrain his or her actions in some way. However, not all directives are equally face-threatening. The amount of face threat created by a directive is a function of three variables: relational distance (the more distant the parties, the greater the face threat to the target); power (the greater the power of the target relative to the persuader, the greater the face threat); and the culturally defined ranking of how much imposition is implicated in the directive (e.g., a request to borrow 100 dlls vs a request to borrow 10 dlls).
Brown and Levinson articulated five strategies available to persuaders who face the prospect of threatening the target's face. The lowest-level strategy is to make the request directly without any efforts to massage the target's face through politeness efforts. Second, they could express the request directly with redressive actions intended to enhance the target's positive face--for example, assurances that the target is liked and appreciated. Third, they could express the request directly with redressive actions intended to enhance the target's negative face--for example, an apology for making an imposition. Fourth, they could decide to express the request indirectly rather than directly, affording the target freedom to hear the utterance as a directive or not. Fifth, they could decide not to seek change in the target, backing off from the face-threatening directive... The right to make a request of another is consistent with the research finding that the more dominant the persuader, the less he or she redresses the face needs of the target.
Many of the influence techniques discussed in this chapter capitalize on our tendency to respond automatically to certain cues in a persuasive message or influence situation. We are particularly vulnerable to techniques that elicit automatic responses due to the difficulty in defending against them.
Compliance can be defined as action that is taken only because it has been requested. The process of generating compliance, then, refers to the process of getting others to say yes to a request. In other words, it is the science of getting what you ask for.
People tend to say yes when they feel obligated to a requester who has previously provided them with some service or concession. To do otherwise would be to risk being labeled as a moocher, a taker, or an ingrate--labels everyone wishes to avoid. Somet imes the effects of the rule for reciprocity are so great that we find people performing acts that would not have occurred under any other circumstances except an existing obligation to repay.
A reciprocation principle for compliance can be worded as follows: One should be more willing to comply with a request from someone who has previously provided a favor or concession... It appears that persuasion itself is subject to reciprocation. Cialdini demonstrated that participants who believed they had successfully persuaded another participant were significantly more likely to respond positively to the participant's subsequent attempts to persuade them. However, this reciprocal persuasion led to true attitude change only if the arguments were strong.
The principle of social validation states that one means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct. Thus, we view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it... When a lot of people are doign something, it is usually the right thing to do. That is why the more people who are performing a behavior, the stronger is our likelihood of doing it as well... The social validation rule for compliance can be stated as follows: One should be more willing to comply wtih a request or behavior if it is consistent with what similar others are thinking or doing... Such techniques may be most effective against people with a collectivistic orientation, that is, people who tend to define themselves in terms of their group memberships.
Once a stand has been taken, there is a ntural tendency to behave in ways that are stubbornly consistent with the stand. Extracting such commitments from people has been shown to significantly increase their likelihood of volunteering and voting... A commitment/consistency principle for compliance can be worded as follows: After commiting oneself to a position, one should be more willing to comply with requests for behaviors that are consistent with that position.
A fact of social interaction to which each of us can attest is that people are more favorably inclined toward the needs of those individuals they know and like. Consequently, a friendship/liking principle for compliance can be worded as follows: One should be more willing to comply with the requests of friends or other liked individuals.
Cooperation is another factor that has been shown to enhance positive feelings and behavior. Those who cooperate toward the achievement of a common goal are more favorable and helpful to each other as a consequence. That is why compliance professionals often strive to be perceived as cooperating partners with target persons.
There appears to be two major sources of the power of scarcity. First, because we know that the things that are difficult to possess are typically better than those that are easy to possess, we can often use an item's availability to help us quickly and correctly determine its quality. Thus, one reason for the potency of scarcity is that, by assessing it, we can get a shortcut indication of an item's value.
According to psychological reactance theory whenever our freedoms are limited or threatened, the need to retain them makes us wan tthem significantly more than we did before. So, when increasing scarcity interferes with our prior access to some item, we will react against the interference by wanting and trying to possess the item more than we did before... However, we rarely recognize that psychological reactance has caused us to want the item more... Still, we need to make sense of our desire for the item, so we begin to assign it positive qualities to justify the desire.
Structure of Attitudes: Judgments, Memory, and Implications for Change, D. Albarracin, W. Wang, H. Li, K. Noguchi
Attitudes are important because they shape people’s perceptions of the social and physical world and infl uence overt behaviors. For example, attitudes influence friendship and animosity toward others, giving and receiving help, and hiring of ethnic minority job candidates. More dramatically, attitudes are at the heart of many violent attacks, including master-minded crimes against humanity (e.g., the Holocaust and the terrorist attacks in New York City on September 11, 2001), but also, attitudes promote major philanthropic enterprises such as a current campaign to end poverty in the world. When defi ned as evaluations, attitudes refer to associations between an attitude object and an evaluative category such as good vs. bad. The attitude object can be a concrete target, a behavior, an abstract entity, a person, or an event.
Attitudes have memory and judgment components. The memory component involves representations of the attitude in permanent memory; the judgment component involves on-line evaluative thoughts generated about an object at a particular time and place.
Whereas explicit attitudes are measured with self-reported evaluations (“President Bush is good vs. bad”), implicit attitudes are measured with methods that assess the time to link the good vs. bad category with a particular object.
Specifically, compared with positive information, negative information tends to have a greater impact on attitudes and decisions. People also tend to have better memory for negative vs. positive stimulus words, and the negative (vs. positive) aspects of an ambivalent attitude can have stronger effects on behavior.
Other lines of research, however, suggest that negative information has greater impact only under certain conditions...However, negative information is not always more powerful in determining attitudes. It is less effective when people have to imagine a story about a potential negative outcome (having a problem during a vacation), presumably because they construct these stories under the most favorable possible light.
Greenwald and Banaji defined implicit attitudes as introspectively unidentifi ed (or inaccurately identifi ed) traces of past experience that mediate favorable or unfavorable feeling, thought, or action toward an object. These researchers proposed that implicit attitudes refl ect unconscious evaluations of an attitude object, whereas explicit attitudes refl ect conscious evaluations of an attitude object. Unlike explicit attitudes, implicit measures refl ect attitudes of which the person may not be aware, and are not subject to conscious editing on the basis of social or personal concerns. Thus, awareness and disapproval of either negative or positive associations can trigger a dissociation in which the implicit and explicit.
Gawronski and Bodenhausen pointed out that explicit and implicit attitudes have reciprocal infl uences on each other. People often use automaticaffective reactions (implicit attitudes) towards an object as a basis for evaluative judgments (explicit attitudes) about the object. This infl uence, however, should occur if and only if the automatic affective reaction is considered valid (i.e., consistent with other propositions). There also are potential infl uences of evaluative judgments on implicit associations.
Staats and Staats showed that pairing nonsense syllables with positive or negative words altered the affective response to the nonsense syllables. That is, the evaluation of the words apparently transferred to initially neutral stimuli by what is referred to as evaluative conditioning. In this phenomenon, the positivity of a stimulus transfers to another regardless of the order of presentation. The valenced stimulus can precede, follow, or appear at the same time as the neutral stimulus, suggesting that mere associative processes are at stake.
Attitude confi dence has several notable consequences, including using the particular attitude as a basis for later behaviors, and increasing the attitude’s resistance to change.
Implicit attitudes were initially believed to be diffi cult to change because they are formed gradually though experiences and learning. For example, counterattitudinal information that reliably changes explicit attitudes does not affect implicit attitudes.
The strong form of the constructionist models argument implies that evaluative judgments are exclusively guided by information present in the external context. For example, individuals may use momentarily experienced affective reactions or physiological arousal to determine their evaluations of objects. They may do this without ever bothering to retrieve a previously stored prior attitude about these objects.
According to social judgment theory attitude change is the result of a perceptual process. When the position of the communication appears close to recipients’ attitudes, people become closer to the position advocated in the communication by “assimilating” their own attitude to the advocacy. In contrast, when the communication is subjectively distant from their attitudes, there is a “contrast” effect, or perception that one’s attitude is more discrepant from the communication than it actually is. In these situations, people resist change, occasionally even changing in opposition to the communication.
A chief assumption is that attitude change is a function of the range of positions a person accepts and rejects. When the message position falls within this latitude of acceptance, people assimilate this position to their attitudes. When the position falls within the latitude of rejection, people contrast their attitudes with that position.
When the term implicit is used to imply lack of awareness or unconsciousness, it can refer to a lack of conscious awareness of the origin of an attitude (source awareness), the attitude itself (content awareness), or the influence of the attitude on other psychological processes (impact awareness)...the term implicit is used in this chapter to include both processes that occur without conscious awareness and those that occur without conscious control.
A prominent view of the origins of implicit attitudes holds that they stem from repeated experiences and develop through socialization processes. According to Greenwald and Banaji, implicit attitudes refl ect introspectively unidentifi ed (or inaccurately identified) traces of past experiences.
Findings suggest that early experiences may not be as critical in shaping automatic affective responses as it often is assumed. Implicit attitudes may continually be updated based on recent or ongoing experiences. Moreover, implicit attitudes are not necessarily based on fi rst-hand experiences with attitude objects. They also develop via exposure to socializing agents starting in childhood. For example, Sinclair, Dunn, and Lowery found a reliable correspondence between parental self-reported racial attitudes and children’s implicit prejudice; in particular among children who were highly identifi ed with their parents. These fi ndings provide preliminary evidences for common assumptions regarding the roots of implicit attitudes.
The role of experiences and socialization is consistent with basic principles of classical conditioning. Recent studies provide strong support for the idea that implicit attitudes develop through the repeated pairings of potential attitude objects with positively and negatively valenced stimuli. According to this view, an automatic preference for a consumer product may result from its frequent pairing with attractive individuals and racial prejudice may develop through repeated exposure to minority-group members portrayed negatively (e.g., criminals, drug addicts, gang members, etc.).
The extent to which attitude objects are linked to the self has a potent infl uence on automatic or unconscious evaluations. Several compelling lines of research show that the mere ownership of an object or its association to the self is suffi cient to enhance its attractiveness...In the same vein, participants were attracted to people whose arbitrary experimental code numbers resembled their own birth dates, whose surnames shared letters with their own surnames, and whose jersey number had been paired subliminally with their own names. As a whole, these fi ndings suggest that personal choices and interpersonal attraction may be indicative of implicit egotism.
Objects attached to the self are immediately endowed with increased value. This proposition is consistent with the well-documented impact of group membership on implicit attitudes: In-groups automatically elicit more positive feelings than out-groups...In sum, these fi ndings revealed introspectively unidentifi ed or uncontrollable effects of the self on evaluations.
In many circumstances, implicit attitudes refl ect cultural evaluations. In other words, automatic or nonconscious evaluations are infl uenced by sociocultural realities. To some extent, the role of experiences and socialization is consistent with the idea that implicit attitudes are shaped by the cultural milieu in which individuals are immersed. In some cases, experiences and cultural evaluations operate in opposite directions, thus highlighting the fact that implicit attitudes are social constructions.
The notions of dual attitudes and implicit ambivalence capture the idea that people may hold discrepant implicit and explicit attitudes toward the same object. Other theoretical perspectives assume a single attitude construct and posit that implicit and explicit measures differ only in the extent to which intentional or conscious processes can alter the attitudinal response. In both cases, the correspondence between evaluations based on deliberative processes and evaluations produced when conscious control is relatively unavailable is a question of interest.
Self-presentation refers to attempts to alter a response for personal or social purposes. In the present domain, it typically applies to circumstances where individuals are unwilling to report or express their affective response toward an object. People may not be willing to report the evaluation that comes to mind because they either do not want other people to know about it or they do not consciously accept or deliberately endorse this evaluation. That is, individuals may be tempted to deceive others by not reporting how they feel toward an object or they may reject their spontaneous affective reaction toward an object because it does not fi t their principles or values.
The impact of self-presentation might just be one specifi c case in an array of motivations that lead individuals to tailor overtly expressed attitudes. Usually, consistency between implicit and explicit attitudes is reduced to the extent that such adjustment processes are executed.
However, individuals who displayed a high internal and low external motivation to respond without prejudice exhibited lower levels of implicit prejudice than others. This pattern suggests that when this motivation is internalized, it may facilitate successful regulation or inhibition of automatic evaluative responses.
The more automatized their attitudes become. From this perspective, attitude strength should increase the correspondence between explicit and implicit attitudes. Over time, deliberate or conscious thinking should shape automatic responses, resulting in greater overlap between implicit and explicit evaluations. One also could posit a reciprocal dynamic by which the more individuals practice their attitude, the more it is likely to become highly accessible and automatically activated upon mere presentation of the attitude object.
The extent to which people perceive a discrepancy between their own evaluation and what they assume is the norm can also moderate implicit–explicit relationships. Indeed, highly distinctive evaluations are more likely to be seen as defi ning features of the self-concept and as such are more likely to be linked to effi cient and precise self-observation. Following this line of thought, the correlation between implicit and explicit attitudes intensifi ed as distinctiveness increased.
Contrary to the assumption that implicit attitudes refl ect highly stable mental representations, a growing literature indicates that implicit attitudes are malleable or fl exible. Performances on tasks developed to assess implicit attitudes are responsive to a wide range of cognitive, motivational, and contextual factors. Under some circumstances, these factors are capable of eliciting radically different patterns of evaluations.
According to this approach, attitudes are not merely retrieved from memory but rather are constructed on the spot. They should be conceptualized as momentarily constructed representations integrating contextual information and selective subsets of associative knowledge. In other words, mental representations are not inert entities stored in memory and retrieved from memory when needed. Rather, they are dynamically constructed or re-created based on available information and contextually activated knowledge.
A constructivist approach also can easily integrate the idea that most targets (object, person, or group) are represented in a multifaceted manner and that the presence of particular cues is suffi cient to infl uence which subset of associative knowledge is activated. Thus, the same target can be automatically evaluated differently as a function of the specifi c context in which it is encountered...In sum, implicit attitudes are shaped by the frame through which a given situation is fi ltered. Individuals may hold multiple sets of associations about a target, and access these associations at different times based on contextual circumstances.
The flexibility of implicit associations also emerges from studies showing that different mental representations might be temporarily activated by different sets of stimuli.
In a series of experiments, Gregg, Seibt, and Banaji demonstrated that implicit and explicit preferences for imagined social groups could easily be induced. However, newly formed implicit preferences (in contrast to explicit ones) could not easily be reversed by various counterinductions (e.g., asking participants to imagine that the associations were diametrically opposite to those learned initially). These fi ndings are consistent with the idea that implicit evaluations are less malleable than self-reported ones.
A central aim of measuring attitudes is to predict behavior. It is well established that explicitly held attitudes do not always strongly account for behavioral responses. The distinction between implicit and explicitattitudes may prove useful in better grasping the complex interplay between attitudinal and behavioral responses.
Consistent with a functional perspective, evaluations operating outside of conscious awareness or control result in behavioral tendencies. For example, Chen and Bargh demonstrated that automatic evaluations elicited by various attitude objects translated directly in behavioral predispositions toward these stimuli...In other words, the automatic categorization of stimuli as either good or bad has direct behavioral consequences. A person does not need to be aware of the operation of attitudes for attitudes to orient the person toward the environment.
Implicit prejudice predicted shorter speaking time, less smiling, fewer social comments, more speech errors or hesitations when interacting with a black (vs. a white) experimenter. Explicit attitudes did not predict these behavioral responses. Similarly, Bessenoff and Sherman found that automatic negative attitudes toward fat people predicted how far participants chose to sit from an overweight woman with whom they expected to interact. Self-reported attitudinal measures were not reliably correlated with this behavioral response. Overall, these studies demonstrate that at least under some circumstances, implicit evaluations predict behavioral responses, whereas overtly expressed evaluations do not.
The fact that prejudices leak out in ways that cannot be consciously controlled or identifi ed by individuals holding these negative attitudes may partially account for the fact that perpetrators and targets of prejudicial reactions often develop very different perspectives on intergroup interactions.
The picture emerging from these studies is that implicit attitudes better predict relatively spontaneous, uncontrollable, or unconscious behaviors, whereas explicit attitudes are a more potent predictor of deliberate behavioral responses. However, several studies reveal that implicitly held evaluations shape behaviors that presumably involve deliberative processes. For example, implicit racial attitudes assessed using facial electromyography accounted for the selection of an applicant for a prestigious teaching fellowship.
The fact that implicit attitudes play a role in the initiation of deliberate or controllable behaviors is consistent with a substantial body of work emphasizing the ubiquity of automaticity in everyday life.
Discrepancies between implicit and explicit self-esteem are particularly potent in determining behavior when people become aware of their ambivalent self-views. According to this perspective, self-esteem might often operate at an automatic or unconscious level, but at times implicit views may seep into consciousness. When this occurs, discrepancies between implicit and explicit self-evaluations motivate people to reduce this ambivalence, and they have powerful effects on self-image maintenance. Thus, situations bringing to mind a discrepancy between explicit and implicit attitudes are likely to trigger motivated behavioral reactions.
There is a compelling body of work showing that implicit attitudes infl uence people’s judgments, decisions, and behaviors in subtle but systematic ways. Research on implicit attitudes has enriched our understanding of the complex interplay between automatic evaluations and behavioral responses.
Attitudes, evaluations, and preferences are shaped by a myriad of psychosocial processes marked by a lack of conscious awareness, control, intention, or self-refl ection. Recent advances in the study of implicit attitudes provide concepts, theories, paradigms, and methods that allow researchers to understand these processes.
Attitudes encapsulate positive and negative feelings, beliefs, and behavioral information about all ranges of “attitude objects,” from people to frozen pizza. In other words, they conveniently summarize how we feel about pretty much everything..It is the very “summary” nature of attitudes that make them so effi cient, fl exible, and adaptive. Because they are “precomputed” evaluations, attitudes allow us to navigate a bewilderingly complex world without having to stop and fi gure out from scratch, every time, whether we should get to know that new person a little better, vote for a certain politician, or buy a certain food.
Sometimes attitudes form on the basis of emotion or affect, and other times they form on the basis of beliefs or cognition. A third basis of attitudes consists of our past behavior, and as we shall see, it is indeed the case that sometimes it is our behaviors that precede our attitudes, not the other way around. The “ABCs” of attitudes (affect, cognition, and behavior), often referred to as the “tripartite” approach, serve to organize research on attitude formation, and most theories of attitude formation distinguish between these three sources. However, the tripartite model provides just one means of carving up attitude formation research. As we shall elaborate later, attitudes also can be formed through “implicit” or unconscious processes, versus more “explicit” or conscious ones.
It is a common assumption that the affective component of an attitude is the end product, but how we feel about an object is merely one component of the attitude that combines with our cognitions and behaviors to yield an overall attitude. Also, these components need not be consistent with one another.
We will consider attitude formation processes by examining how attitudes form from beliefs about objects, feelings toward objects, and actions directed at the objects.
I may come to evaluate a particular object favorably through acquiring positive beliefs or thoughts about the object. If, for example, I read information discussing the health risks of unprotected sex, I may develop beliefs that safe sex protects against a variety of negative outcomes (e.g., AIDS, unwanted pregnancy). Attitudes develop through this thoughtful, “rational” route by creating cognitions that address whether an attitude object leads to favorable or unfavorable outcomes or possesses desirable or undesirable attributes.
Another model of attitude formation through cognitive processes is information integration theory. This model states that as new information is processed and interpreted, it is integrated with beliefs already held. This integration produces an attitude.
Once we determine how we think about the various aspects of an attitude object and how important each is in determining the attitude, they can then be integrated with current attitudes and beliefs to form new attitudes...In summary, according to information integration theory, attitudes can form by perceiving attributes of an object, evaluating them, determining how important these attributes are as contributions to a comprehensive evaluation of the object itself, and lastly, integrating these beliefs in memory.
When presented with information about an attitude object, one will actively relate that information to existing knowledge of the object. This process generates thoughts or “cognitive responses” about the attitude object, and the favorability of one’s thoughts determines the favorability of one’s attitude toward the object.
Attitudes can form as a result of the emotional responses that we experience when we encounter an attitude object. For example, I may experience some emotional reaction when thinking about the benefi ts of safe sex practices and this affect will facilitate attitude formation by linking a feeling of positivity or negativity with the object.
Operant conditioning, a process by which the frequency of a response is increased following a positive outcome and decreased following a negative outcome, can provide one mechanism for the formation of affectively based attitudes. If interaction with the attitude object elicits a positive emotional response, then the evaluation of the attitude object will become more positive and this connection will strengthen, resulting in a positive general attitude...Thus, attitudes can be formed by experiencing positive or negative outcomes based on our attitudinal responses, and the more often one’s responses are reinforced, the more likely that attitude will manifest itself in the future.
Research by Olson and Fazio demonstrates that attitudes can form via affective connections between an object and a response to that object without conscious awareness of the connection..Later experiments indicated that this unconscious acquisition of attitudes was apparent on a subliminal priming measure, demonstrating not only that affective associations can form unconsciously, but that they can manifest unconsciously as well.
Research on “mere exposure” also has shown that simply increasing the familiarity of an attitude object can create more positive attitudes toward the object. In a study that presented Turkish words or Chinese symbols to participants in increasing frequency, Zajonc showed that compared to others who saw the stimuli infrequently, those who observed more repetitions of the words or symbols showed a more favorable attitude toward them. Thus, the more familiar one is with the attitude object, the more likely one is to have a positive evaluation of it. Similar to the conditioning research described above, mere exposure research outlines the ways through which attitudes can form due to affect alone, without reliance on cognitions regarding an object’s attributes.
Although we can form attitudes by acquiring beliefs about the object or by experiencing some emotional state when encountering it, there are occasions when we may have encountered an object but failed to form attitudes through either of these processes. In situations when we lack either a cognitive or affective basis for an attitude, we can infer an attitude by observing our past behavior toward the object in a process of self-perception. When the internal cues that might otherwise normally lead to an attitude are weak, we instead make attributional inferences about our behavior much like they would be done by an outside observer.
For example, Bandler, Madaras, and Bem exposed participants to electric shock and manipulated whether or not they could escape the shock. The shock administered when participants could and could not escape was identical in strength, but participants rated the shocks from which they escaped to be more painful. These authors concluded that participants observed the act of ending the shock and inferred that their behavior must have been due to the shock being more intense. In another study, participants held pencils in their mouths while viewing cartoons and were asked to rate how funny they felt the cartoons were. Some participants held the pencil with their lips, simulating a frown, while others held it with their teeth, simulating a smile. Participants who exhibited a smile while viewing the cartoons rated them as funnier than those who frowned. Thus, in the absence of an obvious external reason for behavior, we infer an internal one, and this attribution results in a new attitude that is consistent with our actions. Self-perception, and the consequent construal of internal attitudes from our overt behavior, has been shown to have the opposite effect if it is applied when one already possesses an attitude.
Recent years have witnessed an upsurge of interest in “implicit social cognition,” the study of the automatic determinants of social behavior. This research has shown that while we do sometimes stop and consider our thoughts and feelings prior to evaluating an attitude object, much of who we are and what we do, including our self-esteem, racial prejudice, and complex social behavior, is determined by processes outside of our control...it does seem that explicit formation processes lend themselves more to belief-based, cognitive approaches described in the expectancy value model. Implicit processes, on the other hand, tend to be more affective in nature...However, it also is important to recognize that affective information can lead to attitudes both implicitly and explicitly—people often are aware of the emotions that exert influence on their attitudes. Similarly, our beliefs sometimes exist beyond our awareness in waysthat infl uence our attitudes. In other words, implicit and explicit processes can operate in both the “heart” and the “head.”
Rudman has suggested four key sources of such attitudes. The fi rst is early life experiences—particularly those that involve indirect observations of others. Although little systematic research has addressed this possibility directly, evidence suggests that attitudes toward smoking, members of the opposite sex, and potential mates can form early in life despite little memory of the experiences that contributed to these attitudes. Second, consistent with the idea that affective information lends itself more toward implicit attitude formation, brain-imaging research suggests that automatic attitudinal responses often relate better to amygdala activation (an affective center of the brain) than the neocortical activity associated with more explicit cognition. Third, Rudman implicates “cultural biases” as potential determinants of implicit attitudes—particularly prejudicial attitudes. Evidence suggests that we tend to acquire the prejudices of our culture at an early age, presumably through passive socialization and without our awareness or conscious consent. A noteworthy implication of this analysis is that implicitly formed attitudes can be ones with which we do not agree at an explicit level...Finally, our attitudes may form and change implicitly because of internal pressures to be consistent; that is, to hold attitudes and beliefs that agree with one another.
These four potential sources of implicit attitudes—early life experiences, primarily affective experiences, cultural biases, and consistency pressure—may only scratch the surface of the various means by which attitudes form implicitly. What these sources have in common, however, is an emphasis on a lack of awareness—either of the attitude itself, or at least of the learning processes that result in the attitude. This lack of awareness has several implications. First, if it is indeed the case that many of our attitudes form implicitly, this suggests that we may not know ourselves as well as we might think. While many believe that we can call up to consciousness the totality of our attitudes and beliefs—about people, politics, products, or what-have-you— if properly prompted, it may be likely that the Ancient Greek admonishment to “know thyself” is a more formidable task than we might imagine. Second, it suggests that the explanation we provide for a given attitude may be more a post hoc justification for an attitude that already exists, and less an articulation of the attitude’s underlying basis. Indeed, “the heart has reasons that reason does not understand”, and people are quite good at producing reasons for their attitudes—even when those reasons are known not to be the source of the attitude. Relatedly, if we are unaware of some of our attitudes, then we are likely unaware of their influence.
However this debate concludes, rapidly accumulating research suggests that implicitly formed attitudes can guide us like invisible puppet strings, pulling us in one direction or another as we remain oblivious to their infl uence...Other approaches evoke evolution as the origin of some particularly important attitudes: those toward potential mates. Evolutionary theory begins with the premise that the environment rewards (“selects”) organisms based on their behavior. Organisms that engage in behaviors that the environment rewards will be more likely to survive, reproduce, and pass on genetic information to offspring. Thus, one’s attitudes toward (and choice) of potential mates partially determines whether one’s genes are promulgated.
Genetics research also has something to say about how our biological endowments predispose us to hold certain attitudes. Much of this research involves comparisons of identical twins (who have the same genetic makeup) who are either reared together (and hence share an environment) or reared apart (and hence experience different environmental infl uences). Such comparisons allow researchers to arrive at estimates of how much a given attitude or behavior is infl uenced by heredity and environmental factors.
A surprising variety of attitude domains appear to have a strong genetic component according to this research. Attitudes toward the death penalty, jazz music, censorship, divorce, certain political attitudes, and many others have relatively high hereditability indices, whereas a belief in the veracity of the bible and attitudes toward coeducation appear to be low in heritability.
Intelligence is somewhat genetically determined, and might reasonably be linked to certain attitudes (e.g., toward academic achievement). Genetically determined sensory structures and body chemistry might infl uence tastes in certain foods, music, and other hedonic activities like smoking and alcohol consumption. Thus, whereas there is probably not a direct link between genes and attitudes, genes appear to express themselves in variety of indirect but attitude relevant ways.
Few attitudes can be described as purely “affective,” “cognitive,” or “implicit.” Instead, the different paths to attitude..In short, cognition and affect can contribute independently to evaluations,but they can also infl uence one another. Similarly, self-perceived behavior (e.g., that one tends to fi nd oneself choosing a Mac over a PC in the computer lab) might cause the development of a belief that Macs are better or a positive affective response to Macs. In short, research suggests that feelings and beliefs can color our perceptions of objects, infl uence how they are construed, and, ultimately, evaluated and treated. Most of the time, these infl uences push us in consistent directions—affective responses tend to be consistent with our “factual” beliefs, and we usually make sense of “the facts” in ways that are consistent with out emotional responses. However, interesting cases arise when feelings, beliefs, and behavior disagree, such as when a smoker has a strongly positive affect response to cigarettes despite a fi rm belief that smoking is harmful to one’s health formation probably combine in a variety of ways in more naturalistic settings.
Attitudes clearly involve multiple sources—learned, innate, affective, cognitive, behavioral, implicit, and explicit, and future research will help untangle how each of these contribute to the richness of our attitudes.
Early research demonstrated that attitudes formed via direct experience are held more strongly than attitudes formed through observation or indirect experience. Attitudes based on sensory information tend to be held more confi dently as well...Our own interactions with an object appear to count quite a bit in terms of our attitudes, as we get to decide for ourselves, based on our own experience, whether to like or dislike a given object.
In short, although we like to believe that we decide what to like and what to dislike through our own conscious volition, these patterns of similarity in attitudes and the experimental evidence on implicit attitude formation processes suggest otherwise. Clearly, socialization processes are a powerful infl uence on attitudes.
The unique ability of human beings to distil and symbolically represent their social experiences, and thus form predispositions toward people and events is a key accomplishment of our species. Attitude is the key construct within social psychology that captures the complex ways in which such predispositions, once formed, come to infl uence social thinking and behavior
Many theorists saw affect as a dangerous, invasive force that subverts rational thinking, an idea that gained its most infl uential expression in Freud’s psychodynamic theories. However, recent advances in neuroscience, psychophysiology, and social cognition suggest that rather than viewing affect as a dangerous and disruptive infl uence, feelings are often a useful and even essential input to adaptive responses to social situations
Affect is a key component of attitudes, yet there has been disproportionate preoccupation with the cognitive and conative components in the past. It was Zajonc who fi rst argued that affect often constitutes the primary and determining response to social stimuli, and he recently concluded that affect indeed functions as the dominant force in social attitudes
The argument for affective primacy is also supported by studies showing that affect plays a crucial role in how people cognitively represent their attitudes about social objects. The ability to categorize and symbolically represent social experiences lies at the heart of orderly and predictable social behavior. Affective reactions seem to play a defi ning role in how attitudes to common, recurring social experiences are organized. Such affective reactions as feelings of anxiety, confi dence, intimacy, pleasure, or discomfort seem to be critical in defi ning the implicit structure of people’s cognitive representations about social encounters.
In addition to playing a role in attitude structure, affect also has a more dynamic infl uence on the valence of attitudes. Several early studies found that feeling good seems to make our attitudes more positive, and feeling bad “infuses” our attitudes with negativity. In terms of Freud’s psychodynamic theories, affect has a dynamic, invasive quality and can take over attitudes and judgments unless psychological resources are deployed to control these impulses.
The conditioning approach was also used by Byrne and Cloreand Clore and Byrne to explain the infl uence of incidental affect on interpersonal attitudes. According to this explanation, aversive environments (as unconditioned stimuli) produce negative affect (the unconditioned response) that can become associated with a new target (a person) and infl uence attitudes (a conditioned response) due to simple temporal and spatial contiguity. Several studies demonstrated just such a conditioning effect on interpersonal attitudes.
Recent evidence shows that the misattribution principle is only a partial explanation of affective infl uences on attitudes and judgments, as people only seem to rely on their affective state as a heuristic cue in rare circumstances when they lack the motivation or resources to compute a more thorough response.
So far we have looked at the informational role of affect, how it may infl uence the content and valence of attitudes. Affect may also infl uence the process of cognition, that is, how people think. People experiencing positive affect appear to employ less effortful and more superfi cial processing strategies, reach decisions more quickly, use less information, avoid demanding, systematic thinking, and are more confi dent about their decisions. In contrast, negative affect seems to trigger a more effortful, systematic, analytic, and vigilant processing style. Yet, more recent studies also show that positive affect can produce distinct processing advantages. Happy people also are likely to adopt more creative, open, and inclusive thinking styles, use broader categories, show greater mental fl exibility, and can perform more effectively on secondary tasks.
Even the basic process of forming an attitude based on observed behaviors can be affectively biased, theoretically, as the greater availability of affectively primed information infl uences the way inherently ambiguous and complex social behaviors are interpreted..Even such a clear-cut behavior as a smile may be seen as friendly in a good mood but could be interpreted as awkward or condescending in a bad mood due to the greater availability in memory of affect-congruent associations. Later experiments have shown that such affect infusion into attitudes occurs even when people deal with such familiar and wellknown others as their intimate partners.
Numerous studies support the counterintuitive prediction of the AIM that affect has a greater infl uence on attitudes when people need to think more extensively to deal with a more complex target, due to the greater likelihood that affectively primed associations will infuse the result. When attitudes are formed about a more complex and ambiguous person, more constructive processing is needed, increasing the likelihood that affectively primed information will be used...experiments provide strong evidence for the process sensitivity of affect infusion into social attitudes, and show that even attitudes about highly familiar people can be prone to affect infusion when a more elaborate processing strategy is used.
If affect can infl uence attitudes, will it also infl uence subsequent social behaviors? Positive affect should thus prime positive information and produce more confi dent, friendly, and cooperative “approach” attitudes and behaviors, whereas negative affect should prime negative memories and produce avoidant, defensive, or unfriendly attitudes and behaviors.
These fi ndings suggest that fl uctuations in affective state can infl uence the attitudes people develop to novel social situations, the goals they set for themselves, and the way they ultimately behave in strategic interpersonal encounters. These effects occur because uncertain and unpredictable social encounters, such as a negotiating task, require open, constructive processing and affect can selectively prime the thoughts and associations used in formulating attitudes, plans, and behaviors.
The self represents a particularly complex, elaborate, and ambiguous attitude object, and affective states may have a particularly strong infl uence on self-related attitudes. There is good evidence for a basic affect-congruent pattern: Positive affect improves, and negative affect impairs the valence of selfattitudes. Similarly, when students expressed their attitudes about their success or failure on a recent exam, those in a negative mood blamed themselves more when failing, and took less credit for their successes, whereas those in a positive mood claimed credit for success but refused to accept responsibility for their failures.
Affective infl uences on attitudes about the self also depend on the extent to which the topic being considered is central or peripheral. Familiar, central aspects of the self may be less prone to affective influences...Sedikides who found that affect had no infl uence on attitudes related to central traits, but had a signifi cant mood-congruent infl uence on attitudes related to peripheral traits. Self-esteem also may mediate mood effects on self-attitudes. Low self-esteem persons generally have less certain and stable self-conceptions, and affect may thus have a greater infl uence on the self-attitudes for low self-esteem individuals. This prediction was confi rmed by Brown and Mankowski who found signifi cantly greater mood effects on the self-attitudes of low self-esteem than high self-esteem individuals.
It seems that high self-esteem persons have more certain and stable self-attitudes and can respond to self-related questions by directly accessing this stable knowledge base, a process that does not allow the incidental infusion of affect into attitudes. Low self-esteem in turn may call for more open and elaborate processing and current mood may thus infl uence the outcome.
Raghunathan and Trope evaluated the mood-as-a-resource hypothesis in the processing of health-related persuasive messages. They found that people in a positive mood not only selectively sought, but also processed in greater detail and remembered better negatively valenced arguments about health risks. In summary, affect seems to have a strong mood-congruent infl uence on self-related attitudes, but only when there are no motivational forces to override affect congruence, and some degree of constructive processing is employed.
Happy moods seem to reduce the incidence of reported physical symptoms and promote positive, optimistic attitudes and beliefs about health-related issues. It is hardly surprising that ill-health is typically associated with more negative moods. The more interesting question is whether there is a reverse effect: Can induced mood have a causal infl uence on reported health symptoms and attitudes? The answer is likely to be “yes.” Individuals who experience negative moods, in comparison to those who experience positive moods, have more negative attitudes, report more and more severe physical symptoms, and these fi nding appears to be quite robust.
Although the effects of affect on health-related attitudes appear robust, the mechanisms responsible for these effects are not yet fully understood. One possibility is that affective states may directly infl uence the immune system and susceptibility to disease, and such effects tend to be stronger when participants are instructed to express rather than repress their mood.
Theoretical explanations suggested that conditioning plays a major role in the process that leads to negative affect coming to be associated with out-groups, consistent with other evidence showing that incidental affect can be readily associated with attitude objects as a result of conditioning processes. Chronic cultural conditioning—repeatedly encountering and associating certain groups with positive or negative affective states—can explain the ease with which culturally devalued groups can so readily elicit such negative emotions as anger, disgust, and resentment.
It appears that affective biases on intergroup responses are stronger when people are unaware of their feelings, lack motivation, or the cognitive resources to control their biases, and have relatively little information to go on.
Simply meeting members of out-groups in affectively nonaversive circumstances can improve attitudes to out-group members, according to the so-called contact hypothesis. Contact episodes that generate positive feelings, such as successful cooperation, are likely to be even more effective. Positive affect may also promote more inclusive cognitive categorizations of social groups, potentially reducing intergroup discrimination.
Contact with out-groups also may produce feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and insecurity, experiences that reduce information processing capacity and amplify reliance on negative attitudes and stereotypes.
Not all negative affective states have the same effects: Sadness, anger and anxiety can have quite different consequences for inter-group attitudes. Sadness seems to reduce, but anger and anxiety increase reliance on stereotyped attitudes.
Past work also suggests that both negative affect, and positive affect can reduce processing resources and so increase reliance on stereotypes. Stereotypes may also be supplemented by other information in the formation of intergroup attitudes. In short, affect may infl uence intergroup judgments both by infl uencing the information processing strategies used, and the way information is selected and used.
Direct effects of mood on attitude change are most likely when people engage in peripheral route processing, and are neither able nor willing to engage in more detailed analysis of the message.
Arguments produced in a negative mood that promotes accommodative processing are not only of higher quality but are also more effective in producing genuine attitude change, largely because they contain more concrete and specifi c details and more factual information. Such messages are more interesting and more memorable..These results are consistent with other studies suggesting that negative affect typically promotes a more concrete, accommodative, externally focused information processing style that also can reduce the incidence of judgmental errors and improve eye-witness memory...It is an intriguing possibility that mild negative affect may actually promote more concrete, accommodative, and ultimately, more successful attitude change strategies in real-life situations.
Cognitive dissonance produces negative affect because discrepancies among cognitions challenge the clarity and certainty of our understanding of the world, and our ability to engage in effective action... Self-esteem seems an important factor in affective responses to cognitive discrepancy, as high self-esteem people are better able to handle negative affective states.
Attitude Functions in Persuasion: Matching, Involvement, Self-Affirmation, and Hierarchy, S. Watt, G. Maio, G. Haddock, B. Johnson
To be effective at winning someone’s agreement or support, it may be imperative to consider the motives that are important to the person. Real-life practitioners of persuasion, including salespeople, marketers, and advertisers, often show implicit recognition of the role of motives. They discern a person’s reasons for an attitude and cannily target their persuasion toward them. A good example of this process is evident in political campaigns, which are routinely won or lost on just such attempts, and where battles to win people’s agreement are thus quite heated.
Some researchers have suggested that object appraisal is the most primary function of attitudes..Object appraisal is the ultimate outcome of all the various infl uences on an attitude. This function simplifi es interaction with the environment, making attitude-relevant judgments faster and easier to perform, offering obvious advantages to the attitude holder.
Katz and his colleagues described attitudes as serving four different functions, including the (1) instrumental, adjustive or utilitarian function; (2) knowledge function; (3) ego-defensive function; and (4) value-expressive function...The instrumental, adjustive, or utilitarian function concerns how attitudes help to maximize rewards in the external world (including the social world) and minimize penalties...The knowledge function concerns a need to structure and understand those aspects of the world that impinge directly on our own lives...The knowledge function is similar to Smith et al.’s object appraisal function, because both functions emphasize the organization and utility of evaluations as a source of information. Yet there also are fundamental differences. The knowledge function concerns achieving understanding of the world, whereas the object appraisal function focuses on how an object can advance one’s own interests.
The ego-defensive function is similar to Smith et al.’s externalization function. The ego-defensive function describes a motivation to form attitudes that protect people from acknowledging basic truths about themselves or from the harsh realities of the external world. For example, we may not wish to acknowledge that we are harming the future of our own children through our negligent impact on the planet’s ecology, and hence hold a hostile attitude toward environmentalists who insist on making this issue salient.
Katz’s value-expressive function is most distinct from those described by Smith et al. It describes a motivation to express attitudes that are appropriate to personal values and the self-concept. For example, we may hold positive attitudes to ethnic minorities in our community because we endorse equality for all community members. Alternatively, we may dislike a group because we feel that it possesses different values from our own. In either case, values are central to the attitude.
Herek’s scheme identifi ed three primary attitude functions: experiential-schematic, defensive, and self-expressive. The experiential-schematic function captures experience with the group and knowledge of it, similar to Smith et al.’s object appraisal function; the defensive function involves the projection of unacceptable motives onto others, comparable to Smith et al.’s externalization and Katz’s ego-defensive function; and the self-expressive function exists in attitudes that serve as a vehicle for expressing identity and values.
The functional approach provides an important basic insight into persuasion. It suggests that attitude change occurs to meet a functional need. Katz and his colleagues emphasized this notion from the start. They assumed that people must perceive that their attitude is no longer serving its function before any change could take place. For example, a utilitarian attitude will change if it is not fulfi lling its utilitarian objectives.
Katz and his colleagues conducted the earliest test of the functional matching hypothesis. These researchers realized that individual differences may predict a tendency to possess attitudes serving particular functions. They reasoned that strongly authoritarian and self-defensive personalities were more likely to form ego-defensive attitudes and, if so, people with defensive personalities should be more amenable to attitude change following an intervention that targets defensiveness. In an ambitious experiment, these researchers tried to reduce prejudice through insight into how repression and projection may cause prejudice.
Whereas accuracy motivation directs people to process persuasive messages carefully and respond to both the strengths and weaknesses in the arguments, impression-management motivation leads people to adopt whichever attitude best fi ts the social environment, and self-defense motivation causes people to protect their self-defi ning attitudes and beliefs. In this manner, both of the latter motives arouse resistance and both prompt biased information processing that potentially gives more weight to content that favors one’s desired attitude (to impress others or defend the self) than to content that opposes it.
With regard to attitude functions, DeBono and Snyder concluded that high selfmonitors should be more likely to exhibit social-adjustive attitudes, whereas low self-monitors should exhibit utilitarian or value-expressive attitudes. If this link between self-monitoring and attitude function is correct, high selfmonitors should be more amenable to persuasive messages (e.g., advertisements) that target social image (soft-sell), whereas low self-monitors should be more amenable to messages that target the truth (hard-sell).
High self-monitors showed more preference for brands that were presented using advertisements that targeted image, whereas low self-monitors showed more preference for brands that were presented in advertisements that targeted quality. In addition, high self-monitors indicated that they would pay more money for products that were promoted by the image advertisement.
Similar effects have been found when matching high and low self-monitors with consensus or values-based arguments. As predicted, high self-monitors are more responsive to consensus opinion, whereas low self-monitors are more responsive to value appeals. Moreover, high and low self-monitors differ predictably in their reactions to the source of a message: High self-monitors are more persuaded by attractive sources than by expert sources, whereas low self-monitors are more persuaded by expert sources than by attractive sources
Analyses of postadvertisement attitudes revealed that for utilitarian products, participants were more persuaded by utilitarian advertisements than by social identity advertisements. In contrast, for social identity products, participants were more persuaded by social identity advertisements than by utilitarian advertisements...An important consideration is whether attitude functions are manipulated by priming or by threat. Priming merely makes the idea of the motive salient.
It may be more useful to manipulate threat to the function than to increase the salience of the function through priming. In theory, functional motives have the unique ability to maintain homeostasis. In other words, a threat to a function should trigger spontaneous or deliberate attempts to fulfi ll the motive more strongly. Consequently, attitude functions should respond to threats to the general motivation that they serve, over and above simple priming of the attitude function.
It is important to keep in mind that attitude functions predict what people dislike, in addition to predicting what they like. People dislike things that are harmful to their personal outcomes (utilitarian threats), threaten their values (value- expression threats), and that are unpopular among people whom they like (social-adjustment threats; see Johnson, Smith-McLallen, Killeya, & Levin, 2004). Failures to address these functions in persuasive messages may inadvertently create backlash effects.
Initial research on this topic supported the hypothesis that function matching elicits increased attention. This research found that although participants did not exhibit more thoughts about functionally matched arguments, they did have better recall for these arguments. This result is consistent with the expectation that participants allocated more mental resources to examining and storing functionally relevant arguments. Additional research showed that participants who were exposed to messages from a source (attractive or expert) that matched the function of their attitude (social-adjustive or value-expressive) were more sensitive to the cogency of arguments.
Following from Lavine and Snyder’s evidence, function matching may cause increased self-relevance of a message. If so, the resulting message elaboration should make perceivers more likely to respond to strengths and weaknesses in the message. This elaboration is important because strong arguments can withstand such scrutiny, but weak arguments cannot. One way of avoiding scrutiny of weak messages when elaboration likelihood is high, then, would be to mismatch the message. This weak message will receive less scrutiny and counterarguing than if it were functionally matched.
These results have many interesting implications. In pragmatic terms, before working out a persuasion strategy, one should determine whether the argument is strong or weak. If it is strong, functional matching will be most effective, but if it is weak, mismatching may produce more persuasion. The results also suggest that functional matching may prompt message elaboration, but mismatching may prompt superfi cial processing.
The persuasive message elicited less agreement when participants had connected the issue to values that were important to them than when they had connected the issue to values that were unimportant to them. This result is consistent with the view that the expression of (important) values within an attitude can lead to defensive processing of subsequent messages.
The fi nding that value-relevant involvement can cause defensive message processing leads us to postulate that value-expressive attitudes may be particularly resistant to persuasion. However, as mentioned, impression-relevant involvement (and hence ego-defensive and social adjustment attitudes) also is likely to arouse resistance and prompt biased information processing. This pattern poses quite a conundrum, because many of the most important real-world issues invoke passionate feelings about values and deep concerns about others’ positive regard.
One recently developed intervention offers some hope for circumventing such resistance. Specifi cally, self-affi rmation theory proposes that defensive processing of a message is reduced if the message recipient’s global sense of self-worth is bolstered prior to receiving the message. Bolstering can be achieved by focusing on other valued aspects of the self, which are not threatened by the message
Self-affi rmation allows people to feel a sense of self-integrity, which enables them to process the threat in a more open, less defensive manner. As a result, self-affi rmed individuals are likely to be more responsive to counterattitudinal messages, less biased in processing of these messages, and more likely to change their attitude. Self-affi rmation can therefore serve to “inoculate” against defensive responses to persuasion.
If following self-affi rmation the self is perceived as competent and good, there will be little need for ego-defensive attitudes. To the extent that the self has been affi rmed, there is less need to defend it through one’s attitudes. Similarly, if self-affi rmation makes the self seem morally adequate, there will be little need to defend it through value-expressive attitudes.
It should also be the case that any positive effect of selfaffi rmation on feelings of acceptance from others should reduce the need to boost social acceptance through holding social adjustment attitudes. From this perspective, then, self-affi rmation may be an effective way to reduce resistance when attitudes serve a variety of functions.
At the inclusive end of the functions spectrum, attitude functions could be broadly divided into instrumental and symbolic functions—a similar distinction to that made by Kinder and Sears between self-interest politics and symbolic politics. This level of analysis has been found useful in examining the functions of intergroup attitudes
The research reviewed shows that persuasive messages that take attitude functions into account tend to be more effective, provided that the messages contain strong arguments. In addition, the research suggests that value-expressive, ego-defensive, and social-adjustive attitudes may be more likely than utilitarian attitudes to arouse defensive message processing, and self-affi rmation can reduce such resistance.
Classic conceptualizations of resistance largely focused on the motivation to resist persuasion. One motivation that has received considerable attention is the motivation to maintain consistency. Cognitive dissonance theory, for instance, suggests that people aim to resist attitude change when such change will produce incongruent, or confl icting, cognitions. The argument is that if one changes one’s attitude toward something, he or she will be faced with an aversive state of tension resulting from simultaneously holding one attitude (the new one) and a series of other cognitions (e.g., old thoughts, old beliefs, knowledge of past behavior) that confl ict with that attitude.
According to balance theory, people resist attitude change when such change risks creating imbalanced attitude systems— that is, when change risks placing people at odds (or in agreement) with liked (disliked) others. This motivation to avoid imbalance can foster resistance to persuasion. Approaching resistance motivation from a different perspective, other researchers have argued that people are motivated to resist persuasion to maintain independent views of themselves. Brehm’s reactance theory postulates that people resist persuasion when they perceive that a persuasive message threatens or encroaches upon their personal freedom.
Some research has combined the study of motivation and process to better understand the nature of resistance. For example, research on forewarning has revealed that when people are warned of an impending persuasive attack, a variety of motives can be induced which differentially affect the manner in which people respond to the attack. For instance, when people receive warnings on important or highly involving issues (especially if those warnings indicate the communicator’s position), defensive motivations can lead people to engage in elaborative and biased processing in support of their attitudes or against the opposing position (e.g., anticipatory counterarguing; Petty & Cacioppo, 1977). When people receive warnings that indicate a communicator’s persuasive intent, even without revealing the communicator’s position, reactance motivations can result, leading people to resist with minimal effort simply to preserve their sense of personal freedom.
For instance, attitudes tend to be more resistant when they are highly accessible, supported by extensive knowledge, held with certainty, structurally consistent, based on cognitive elaboration, and low in ambivalence.
Albarracín and Mitchell focused on defensive confi dence or the extent to which people think they can successfully defend their attitudes against attack. They found that the more confi dent people were about their resistance abilities, the more willing they were to expose themselves to counterattitudinal information and, thus, the more they changed in response to that information. Ironically, then, people high in defensive confi dence were most vulnerable to counterattitudinal information.
What is attitude certainty, and why do we care about it? Attitude certainty is a dimension of attitude strength that refers to the subjective sense of conviction one has about one’s attitude, or the extent to which one thinks one’s attitude is correct or clear in one’s mind. Past research has revealed attitude certainty to be an important dimension of people’s attitudes, which has implications for an attitude’s tendency to predict behavior, resist persuasion.
Applying a metacognitive perspective to resistance to persuasion, we have postulated that when people resist persuasive attacks, they can perceive this resistance, refl ect upon it, and form specifi able attribution- like inferences about their own attitudes that have implications for attitude certainty. Just as individuals can observe other people’s behavior to form inferences about those people, we posit that people can observe the “behavior” of their own attitudes (e.g., resisting persuasion) to form inferences about those attitudes.
Following the logic of attribution theory, the resistance appraisals hypothesis suggests that resistance can leave people feeling either more or less certain of their attitudes depending on their perceptions of their resistance and the situation in which it occurs. Situational factors that foster positive appraisals of one’s resistance performance should boost attitude certainty, whereas situational factors that foster negative appraisals of one’s resistance performance should undermine certainty.
The resistance appraisals hypothesis further suggests that these effects can occur in the absence of any differences in people’s actual resistance. That is, people can resist the same message in the same way and to the same degree, but become more or less certain of their attitudes when their subjective assessment of their resistance performance leads them to a positive or a negative appraisal, respectively.
The resistance appraisals hypothesis suggests that when people resist persuasive messages, they will become more certain of their initial attitudes when they form positive appraisals of their resistance performance; that is, when they think they have done a good job resisting.
When participants perceived that they had resisted a strong attack, they became more certain of their attitudes. When participants perceived that they had resisted a weak attack (which would have created a more neutral resistance appraisal), attitude certainty was unchanged. Moreover, this effect was mediated by participants’ subjective assessments of their resistance performance. To the extent that participants believed that they resisted a strong (vs. weak) message, they rated their resistance more favorably and increased their attitude certainty accordingly.
Consistent with the resistance appraisals hypothesis, the perceived message strength and source credibility studies converge in suggesting that when people form positive appraisals of their resistance performance they become more certain of their initial attitudes. In essence, when people resist strong attacks or attacks from experts, they appear to view their resistance as more successful, or more diagnostic of the validity of their attitudes.
Indeed, if one resists a strong argument or an expert, one can assume that one also would have resisted a weak argument or a nonexpert. If one resists a weak argument or a nonexpert, however, one cannot assume that one also would have resisted a strong argument or expert, because it remains a possibility that stronger arguments or messages from experts would be more persuasive.
When it seems that a persuasive message simply has been unsuccessful because the message recipient resists it, that message actually might have been counterproductive. Specifi cally, to the extent that message recipients think the message (or source) they have resisted is strong (or expert), resisted messages can backfi re by making the recipients more certain than ever about their attitudes, more likely to base their behavior on those attitudes, and more likely to defend those attitudes against later, even stronger, attacks.
If attitude certainty is undermined when people form negative appraisals of their resistance, people’s attitudes should become less predictive of behavior, less persistent over time, and more vulnerable to later attack...In short, our studies suggest that even when it seems that a persuasive message has been unsuccessful in changing a target attitude, that message might have had a subtle yet powerful effect. In particular, depending on the circumstances surrounding resistance, the seemingly unsuccessful message might actually have weakened the target attitude, reducing its predictive utility and durability.
What determines whether people refl ect upon and form inferences about their own resistance? My colleagues and I have posited that some of the same factors that determine whether people think extensively or not in general also determine whether people appraise their resistance performance. In particular, we have suggested that assessing one’s resistance and forming an inference about attitude certainty is more likely under high rather than low levels of cognitive elaboration..the same variables that motivate people to care or be concerned about an object or issue (e.g., personal relevance; Petty & Cacioppo, 1979) also likely motivate people to care or be concerned about their level of attitude certainty with respect to that object or issue.
A correlational study showing that people’s perceptions of their own attitude persistence signifi cantly predict attitude certainty. The more persistent participants report their attitudes to be, the more certain they feel about those attitudes. Furthermore, in an experimental study, Petrocelli et al. made a similar argument in explaining the effect of repeated attitude expression on attitude certainty. Replicating past research, Petrocelli et al. found that participants were more certain of their attitudes after expressing them on several scales versus just one scale.
What else could have contributed to the certainty effect? Petrocelli et al. argued that when people repeatedly express the same attitude toward an object or issue, they develop a subjective sense that they can reliably express their attitude and that it is not changing from one moment to the next. These perceptions lead people to believe that they truly know their attitude, which manifests as increased attitude certainty.
In situations in which initial resistance is anticipated, infl uence practitioners could structure the persuasive environment to foster negative resistance appraisals among message recipients. For example, message recipients could be given very little time to counterargue or could be directly challenged to counterargue and then provided with negative feedback about the quality of their counterarguments. Employing these strategies might reduce attitude certainty among resistant individuals.
Based on the resistance appraisals hypothesis, one intriguing and somewhat counterintuitive suggestion for strengthening attitude–behavior correspondence would be to challenge the person’s positive attitude—the very attitude one hopes to strengthen! If the challenge is perceived to be cogent or coming from a high credibility source, and the person perceives that he or she has resisted it, the person should form a positive resistance appraisal and attitude–behavior correspondence should increase.
Perhaps when people perceive that they have not changed their behavior or beliefs despite numerous strong attacks on those behaviors and beliefs (e.g., peer pressure), they become more certain of who they are and what they stand for. In contrast, when people perceive that they have almost changed many times, or they recall that they have found it very hard not to change or that they had poor reasons for not changing, they might be less certain of who they are and what they stand for.
When the consequences of a discrepant behavior are severe, taking responsibility may not reduce the discomfort; indeed, admitting to the mistake may make matters worse. Sometimes our only option for reducing the discomfort is to deny, trivialize, or seek justifi cation for the immoral or incompetent act. Our need to restore a sense of integrity can, under some conditions, even lead us to distort our perceptions of what we did. The purpose of this chapter is to explore the processes of attitude and behavior change that unfold when people commit themselves to a position or a course of action, only to realize later that it was the wrong thing to do.
How do people respond when they continue to receive information that disconfi rms their fi rm and publicly stated beliefs? A rational person might begin to realize the mistake, accept the new information, and alter his or her beliefs to fi t reality. But people are not always rational animals. As Elliot Aronson once observed, when faced with undeniable discrepancies, people become rationalizing animals. Rather than admitting the mistake, they often change their beliefs to justify their negative behaviors.
This is the power of self-justifi cation; our need to maintain consistency between our attitudes, beliefs, and behavior can sometimes lead us to do some very strange things. When we behave in ways that contradict or challenge our own attitudes and beliefs, the discomfort we feel can motivate us to distort perceptions of our actions.
Festinger proposed that whenever there is inconsistency between cognitions, there is cognitive dissonance. According to Festinger, the perception of cognitive dissonance induces a negative state of tension, which is similar to how people feel when they are hungry or thirsty. Like hunger or thirst, dissonance motivates people to reduce their discomfort, but in the case of dissonance, people become motivated to restore psychological consistency. The psychological processes by which people restore consistency among cognitions can lead to enduring and meaningful changes in the way we view our social world.
Festinger proposed that when two cognitions are inconsistent, the amount of psychological discomfort that people experience depends on the importance of the cognitions. If cognitions are important, then the dissonance aroused will be much greater than when cognitions are unimportant.
When we experience this uncomfortable state of dissonance-induced arousal, what determines how we reduce it? Festinger suggested that this could be done in a number of ways. The fi rst and most obvious way to reduce discomfort is to change the behavioral cognition by changing the problem behavior...But changing behavior is not always a viable strategy for restoring consistency...when people are unable to undo a discrepant behavior, or make amends for it, to restore consistency they may have to change their attitudes and beliefs about what they did . This strategy for reducing the discomfort associated with dissonance can often lead to some rather puzzling and bizarre distortions of reality
According to dissonance theory, people should be most likely to justify a decision when it involves deciding between similarly attractive alternatives. A choice between two equally attractive alternatives necessarily creates inconsistency between the positive features of the rejected alternative and the negative features of the selected alternative...When both options are similarly desirable, the decision is more diffi cult, and once one desirable item is selected over another desirable option, the inconsistency created by the decision is likely to cause discomfort.
When people cannot change their minds but still need to reduce their discomfort, they have a tendency to justify the decision by focusing on the positive features of the chosen alternative and the negative features of the rejected alternative.
Dissonance is reduced because spreading the alternatives makes the two options subjectively less similar; with the chosen alternative now perceived as much, much better than the rejected alternative.
Have you ever worked very hard for something only to learn later that your efforts were not worthwhile? Such outcomes can create dissonance because working very hard is inconsistent with getting nothing in return. Reducing the discomfort and restoring consistency may be easy if you can reduce your perception of how much time and effort were expended. But when it is clear that you did everything in your power to achieve a goal that turns out to be worthless, it may be impossible to distort your perceptions of the effort. Under these conditions, to restore consistency you may have to resort to altering your perceptions of how much you gained from the waste of time and energy.
Cooper and Fazio proposed that dissonance arousal begins when people engage in a behavior and then immediately evaluate the consequences of the act...If people perceive that they acted under their own volition, and they could have foreseen the outcome, then they accept responsibility for the behavioral outcome. The acceptance of responsibility for the aversive outcome causes dissonance arousal.
Aronson offered an altogether different perspective on dissonance processes as early as 1968. He suggested that a common thread ran through almost all dissonance studies—most involved situations that challenged people’s expectancies or beliefs about themselves. To predict systematically when dissonance would occur, dissonance theory needed to take into account the fi rm expectations people hold for themselves and their behavior...Aronson concluded that “If dissonance exists it is because the individual’s behavior is inconsistent with his self-concept”. Aronson’s emphasis on the self-concept shifted the motivational nature of dissonance from one of general psychological consistency to a more specifi c motive for self-consistency. That is, because beliefs about the self are highly important, dissonance motivates people to maintain their self-concept by changing their attitudes or beliefs.
Several studies show that simply reminding people of their positive self-attributes eliminates the need to change attitudes following a discrepant act. For example, Steele and Lui induced dissonance though counterattitudinal behavior and then had some participants complete a scale measuring their sociopolitical values prior to completing a measure of their attitudes toward their discrepant behavior. The data showed that dissonance-induced attitude change was eliminated when participants with strong sociopolitical values were allowed to “reaffi rm” those values by completing the sociopolitical survey before their attitudes were assessed.
Dissonance processes begin when, once they have acted, people evaluate their behavior against a standard of judgment, which may or may not relate to a cognitive representation of the self. For example, people can evaluate their behavior using a specifi c attitude or belief, or using generally shared, normative considerations of what is aversive to most people. However, the assessment of behavior also may be based on personal, idiosyncratic standards for what is considered foolish or immoral, which tend to be linked to self-esteem.
Why do people change their behavior and not their attitudes following an act of hypocrisy? According to Stone and colleagues, it is because an act of hypocrisy challenges a sense of self-integrity that people are motivated to uphold. The most direct way to restore self-integrity is to bring behavior back into line with the prosocial standards advocated in the speech...a study showed that when dissonance follows from an act of hypocrisy, people are primarily motivated to restore their self-integrity by changing the target behavior, even when other options for dissonance reduction, such as self-affi rmation, are available and easy to complete.
Data suggest that when people are publicly associated with past failures to practice what they preach, they may feel embarrassed or ashamed of their past behavior, and this motivates them to justify their past transgressions through attitude change. But if allowed to privately “discover” their past failures on their own, the need to restore self-integrity motivates people to take action designed to improve their behavior in the future.
Citing several failures to replicate dissonance effects in collectivistic cultures like Japan, Markus and Kitayama concluded that people with an interdependent self-concept might not experience the motive for psychological consistency in the same way as people from an independent or individualistic culture.
Dissonance can occur when we spontaneously say or do something and immediately realize the mistake. At other times, however, dissonance can occur when we plan carefully and start off in a direction that makes sense, but then after a time, new information becomes available that suggests our behavior is unwise or immoral.
Our attitudes are rarely idiosyncratic—more often than not they are grounded in the groups we belong to and they serve to defi ne and proclaim who we are in terms of our relationships to others who are members of the same or different groups. Attitudes are powerful bases for making group stereotypical or normative inferences about other attitudes and about behaviors and customs—they let us construct a norm-based persona that reduces uncertainty and regulates social interaction. Attitudes are grounded in social consensus defi ned by group membership. Many, if not most, of our attitudes refl ect and even defi ne groups with which we identify. We are autobiographically idiosyncratic, but our attitudes are actually attached to group memberships that we internalize to defi ne ourselves.
The main point we make is that attitudes are grounded in group memberships; thus, attitude research must consider more completely the way in which attitudes are socially formed, confi gured, and enacted. This is not to say that attitudes are not cognitively represented by individual people: they are. Rather, we emphasize the way that attitudes are normative and embedded in wider representational and ideological systems attached to social groups and categories.
What is needed is a reconceptualization of attitudes as fundamentally entwined with the social environment and inherently social, rather than simply reducing the social context to the inclusion of norms (norms as the “social appendage”). After all, attitudes are socially learned, socially changed, and socially expressed. By highlighting the impact of the social environment on individual attitudes, we can gain a more complete insight into the motivational complexities that drive attitudinal phenomena.
For Tajfel, social identity represents “the individual’s knowledge that he belongs to certain social groups together with some emotional and value signifi cance to him of his group membership”. Social identity is not merely the knowledge that one is a member of a group and of the defi ning attributes of group membership, it also involves an emotional and motivational attachment to the group.
People cognitively represent a social group (e.g., a nation, a religion, an ethnic group) as a category prototype—a fuzzy set of category attributes that are related to one another in a meaningful way. These prototypes simultaneously capture similarities within the group and differences between the group and other groups or people who are not in the group.
Prototypes not only describe categories but also evaluate them and prescribe membership-related attributes. They specify how people ought to behave as category members, what attitudes they ought to hold, and so forth. Prototypes chart the contours of social groups, and tell us not only what characterizes a group, but how that group is different from other groups. In this sense prototypes are norms; that is, because a particular perception, behavior, or attitude is shared within a group, it is normative of that particular group
One of the key insights of social identity theory, elaborated by self-categorization theory, is that the process of categorization of self and others, depersonalizes one’s perception of self and others and depersonalizes one’s own behavior. When we categorize people (in-group members, out-group members, or ourselves), we view them not as idiosyncratic individuals, but through the lens of the group prototype. We assign prototypical attributes to them, and we interpret and expect behavior, including their attitudes, to conform to our prototype of the group. In this way, social categorization generates stereotype or norm consistent expectations regarding people’s attitudes and conduct.
Self-categorization and depersonalization account for the social cognitive process that causes people to internalize group attributes and behave in line with group norms—it explains how people internalize in-group normative attitudes as their own attitudes. When people categorize themselves as members of a group and perceive that the group is important to them, there is an assimilation of the self to the group prototype.
Because the prototype is internalized as part of the individual’s self-concept, it exerts infl uence over behavior even in the absence of surveillance by other group members. Once the norm has been identifi ed, self-categorization produces normative behavior, including subscription to attitudes. It is through this process of referent informational infl uence that individuals come to learn about the group and appropriate ways of behavior.
For referent informational infl uence, people conform to a norm, not to the behavior of specifi c other individuals, and they conform because they are group members, not to validate physical reality or to avoid social disapproval. Because the norm is an internalized representation, people can conform to it in the absence of surveillance by group members..We can learn the normativeness of attitudes and behaviors by observing or interacting with people. As we shall see, people can impart norms relatively passively by example, or through more active persuasion.
Group members infer or induce the content of a social identity (norms, attitudes, rules) from intragroup communication and the individual contributions of group members..There also is evidence that over time, majority views and norm-consistent attitudes tend to dominate, and that group discussion strains out norm-inconsistent attitudes, narrowing the group’s scope to focus on norm-consistent attitudes. Members who espouse nonnormative attitudes often are discredited, and direct criticism of groups is tolerated more if the critic is viewed as an in-group, not an out-group, member.
Research has shown that the social identity, shared or otherwise, of the individuals in the source and audience roles can have considerable impact on both the processing and eventual effectiveness of persuasive appeals. According to the social identity approach, when social identity is salient, the validity of persuasive information is (psychologically) established by in-group norms. Thus, because in-group messages are perceived as more subjectively valid than out-group messages, people should be more infl uenced by in-group than out-group sources.
Research on minority infl uence shows that minorities are very effective in changing majority attitudes if the minority’s position is novel and the minority adopts a consistent yet fl exible style of social infl uence and persuasion. Not all minorities are equally effective in producing attitude change. Perceptions of shared group membership between the majority and the minority are a critical determinant of the success of minority infl uence. That is, in-group minorities, but not out-group minorities, produce change.
The third-person effect refers to the tendency for people to perceive that others are more infl uenced by persuasive communications than they are themselves. Moreover, people act on the basis of these distorted perceptions: attitudinal and behavioral change may result from the belief that the options of others have been altered.
Drawing on the social identity perspective, Terry and Hogg and their associates argue that attitudes are more likely to express themselves as behavior if the attitude (and associated behaviors) are normative properties of a social group with which people identify. In circumstances where membership of a particular social group becomes a salient basis of self-defi nition, attitudes and group norms come to govern our own behavior. Attitudes express themselves as behavior if they are group normative and if group membership is salient. Thus, it can be predicted that the relationship between attitude and behavior will be strengthened when group members perceive that the attitude is normative for the group and weakened when group members perceive that their attitude is out of step with the group.
Furthermore, it has been shown that group members are sensitive to the relevance of an attitude to the group. Attitudes that are more central or relevant to a group are perceived to be more personally important and relevant to group members and, in turn, are more predictive of behavior
Conformity to group norms is enhanced when individuals feel uncertain, suggesting that the desire to resolve uncertainty may underpin group-normative behavior. In addition to an epistemic, uncertainty-related motive, group members also conform to group norms for strategic, self-presentation reasons.
By considering attitudes from a social identity perspective, we can see how three common motives for attitude phenomena—the need to understand reality, the need to achieve a positive and coherent self-concept, and the need to relate to others and convey an appropriate impression to them—can all be satisfi ed by the processes of self-categorization and social identifi cation...Because normative attitudes delineate and defi ne groups relative to other groups, they tend to be polarized in social identity contexts.
Normative Beliefs as Agents of Influence: Basic Processes and Real-World Applications, P. Schultz, J. Tabanico, T. Rendon
From our observations and perceptions of how other people think, feel, and act, we infer what is normal and acceptable in a given context. These inferences, in turn, serve as guides for our own actions.
Social norms are the common and accepted behaviors for a specifi c situation. They are “rules and standards that are understood by members of a group, and that guide and/or constrain human behavior without the force of laws”. Social norms are what is done or what is approved. That is, social norms describe the level of a behavior within a particular group, or the level of approval for the behavior. When psychologists talk about social norms, however, they typically refer to an individual’s beliefs about the behaviors and evaluations of group members. These normative beliefs reside in the mind of the individual, and can vary considerably in their degree of accuracy.
Normative beliefs refer to the perception, and not the reality. Normative beliefs are social in nature—referring to what other people think and do. By comparison, individuals also hold personal norms, which are rules or standards for their own behavior. Much of the early work on social norms was conducted under the umbrella of conformity, a process in which changes in behavior are brought about by witnessing the actions of other people. Unlike other types of social infl uence, conformity does not result from a direct request. Instead, the infl uence is subtle, and involves changing one’s behavior to be consistent with the behavior of others in the group. The fi ndings from early studies on conformity suggested that individuals were strongly infl uenced by their perceptions of others—in fact, it could even lead them to say things that they knew were incorrect. Deutsch and Gerard offered a useful distinction for the motivational forces that lead to conformity. Normative social infl uence describes conformity to a group norm brought about by a desire to be liked by the group members.
Informational social infl uence operates outside of group membership, and the individual is not motivated by a concern about the evaluations of other group members. Informational social infl uence describes conformity to a group norm brought about by a desire to be correct. Both processes can infl uence behavior, but they operate in different contexts and have different underlying motivational bases.
Descriptive norms refer to a person’s perception of what is commonly done in a situation; they characterize the perceptions about behaviors of group members. Injunctive norms refer to a person’s beliefs about what others in the group approve (or disapprove) of doing. Injunctive norms are prescriptive.
Considerable research has shown that normative beliefs predict behavior. Across a range of domains and research traditions, beliefs about what other people do, and approve of doing, are strongly related to an individual’s behaviors.
Normative beliefs are generally viewed as resulting from social interaction. Indeed, much of the early research on normative social infl uence used real people in staged settings to convey information about the norm...although seeing other people act can clearly provide information about the social norms in a given context, social interaction is not required. Individuals use a variety of cues, social and nonsocial, to draw inferences about the behavior of others.
Are we more, or perhaps less, likely to conform to the norms of our peers than the norms of strangers? On the one hand, we care more about the evaluations of our peers than of strangers, and so we should be more likely to act in ways that are consistent with them. On the other hand, if we feel accepted by our peers, we should feel a greater freedom to express our individuality. The early literature on normative social infl uence suggested that conforming to the norm often was motivated by a desire to be liked by our group
The authors concluded that the power of different referent groups to exert social infl uence “did not map onto the extent to which individuals would consider those identities personally meaningful and important to them.”..We are not suggesting that social infl uence does not occur as a result of normative information about a similar referent group—there seems clear evidence that it does. Rather, we are suggesting that normative information about a generic referent group provides suffi cient motivation to induce conformity, and that increasing the degree of similarity to the referent group does little to strengthen its infl uence. Interestingly, there also is evidence that normative information about an out-group can also induce conformity for private behaviors.
In novel or ambiguous situations, where we are uncertain of the appropriate course of action, we should be more likely to use others as a guide for our behaviors. Indeed, a third “truth” about the infl uence of normative beliefs is that it applies most strongly to ambiguous situations...A fourth “truth” about the infl uence of social norms is that it is stronger for public than for private behaviors
Another insight that has emerged from the fi eld experiments is that normative social infl uence generally is underestimated. That is, people do not believe that they are infl uenced by the actual or perceived behavior of others.
Providing residents with normative information about the conservation behavior of others in their community caused a reduction in household energy consumption. Appeals to environmental protection, social responsibility, and saving money failed to produce signifi cant changes in behavior. Yet, when asked how persuasive they found the distributed information, households in the normative condition rated it as less persuasive than those who received environmental, social responsibility, or fi nancial information (even though the latter three did not produce signifi cant changes in behavior!).
When two inconsistent norms exist simultaneously, the norm that is activated, or made most salient, will have the greater infl uence on subsequent behavior..That is, while participants littered signifi cantly more into the littered environment than the clean environment, the least littering occurred when participants saw a confederate drop trash into a clean environment. By littering into a clean environment, the confederate was able to shift the focus of the participants onto the descriptive norm that “people don’t litter here.”
An alternative theoretical perspective on normative social infl uence emphasizes an individual’s desire to distinguish him- or herself from the group. Deviance regulation theory (DRT) suggests that people are motivated by the desire to maintain a positive self-image, both public and private, and that they maintain this self-image by choosing desirable ways of deviating from social norms and by avoiding undesirable ways of deviating. Because individuals want to “stick out” in a good way, they seek positive prototypes that are consistent with their self-image and avoid negative prototypes. People conform or deviate from an established norm in such a way that their positive self-image is enhanced.
In studies on perceptions of others (i.e., descriptive normative beliefs) versus self, research consistently shows a tendency to view self as acting in more desirable ways, and less undesirable ways, than other people. For example, individuals think they are more charitable, kind, considerate, and sincere than most other people. At the same time, individuals believe that they are less gullible, persuadable, and unethical than others. This sense of false uniqueness is quite pervasive, and has been reported across a range of behavioral domains. The source of these perceptual biases is unclear. Is the distortion due to a rosy view of self, or a misperception of other people?
Ross, Greene, and House coined the term false consensus effect to describe the tendency for people to overestimate the extent to which their own attributes, choices, and judgments are common, while simultaneously viewing alternative responses as uncommon. The false consensus phenomenon has been well documented and the effect has been demonstrated across a wide range of attributes and behaviors.
Evidence also suggests that some normative infl uence occurs outside of awareness. Cialdini described this (social proof) process as operating through a “click-whirr” mechanism that requires little cognitive elaboration...Bargh et al. showed that priming participants with cooperation related words resulted in greater cooperation in a resource dilemma task. Importantly, this increase in cooperation occurred without awareness from participants.
The studies summarized here suggest that having a strong attitude toward the behavior may reduce or even reverse the direction of normative social infl uence. That is, people with strong morally based attitudes toward the behavior might be resistant to normative information or they may even react against it, a type of boomerang effect. If a person feels strongly about a behavior (e.g., it is important for parents to give their children experiences in nature), hearing normative information about other people not practicing the behavior (e.g., only 10% of families ever go camping with their children) could instill a sense of indignation and ultimately embolden the behavioral tendency (e.g., “I’m defi nitely taking my kids camping”). As Hornsey et al. stated, “although fear of social censure is a real phenomenon, there are circumstances where people’s need to be [morally] right might override their need to be accepted”.
The approach–avoidance model implies two different tactics for change. Alpha strategies, which are widely known and have been the focus of much past research, attempt to persuade by increasing the approach forces. An offer or a message can be made more attractive by adding incentives, creating more convincing reasons, finding more credible sources, and so on. Omega strategies, which are relatively understudied and a primary focus of this book, attempt to persuade by decreasing avoidance forces. Thus, Omega change strategies work by removing or disengaging someone’s reluctance to change.
Motives generally can be separated into two classes. Those that promote movement toward the goal can be thought of as approach motives. Those that inhibit movement toward the goal can be thought of as avoidance motives.
Dollard and Miller formalized Lewin’s descriptions into a sort of psychological gravitational model. They believed that when one was far away from a goal, the approach cues were more salient than the avoidance cues. But as one moved closer to the goal, the avoidance gradients arose more steeply than the approach gradients... The Dollard and Miller approach–avoidance conflict model describes a basic mixed motive situation that characterizes numerous social interactions.
When the approach forces are greater in total strength or salience than the avoidance forces, then there is movement toward the goal. But when the approach forces are less compelling than the avoidance forces, then there is no movement toward the goal and perhaps even movement in the opposite direction. To persuade or foster movement toward a goal, a change agent may increase approach forces or decrease avoidance forces.
The approach–avoidance model has a number of implications. One implication, the one we focus on here, is that there are two fundamentally different ways to create change, two different strategies for promoting movement toward some goal. Alpha strategies promote change by activating the approach forces, thereby increasing the motivation to move toward the goal. In contrast, Omega strategies promote change by minimizing the avoidance forces, thereby reducing the motivation to move away from the goal.
Petty and Cacioppo have shown that messages are more persuasive when they give more cogent reasons for an action or belief, when they raise someone’s interest in listening to the message, and when the are phrased in a way that allows easy understanding. Research has identified additional characteristics that affect the persuasiveness of messages. The vividness of a message, the appeal of the messages to fear and emotion, and the use of humor in the message...And, of course, reasonable arguments heard repeatedly are more persuasive than arguments heard only once.
Often people use other people’s actions as referents for what is appropriate and desirable. Cialdini calls this the influence principle of “social proof.” The perception that other people find an alternative attractive often increases a person’s appreciation of that alternative.
Making a person think that there are only a few items left, or that time for a decision is limited, can sometimes be an effective Alpha strategy. Scarcity is the ignition for several processes. First, scarcity implies social consensus that the item is desirable, that it is scarce because other people want it. Second, scarcity implies competition, and obtaining a scarce good implies that one has won the competition.
Another incentive for complying is the opportunity to be consistent with ones’ sense of self or with one’s prior actions. Inconsistency appears to be a threat to self-esteem. Getting people to commit to an opinion or action is an effective way to increase compliance with a later request.
Straight advised salespeople to redefine all sales pitches as a cooperative interaction, beginning by exploring the interests and needs of the buyer to see if a mutually acceptable basis for doing business can be established. Redefining the sales pitch as a cooperative interaction or as a consultation is a way of sidestepping the resistance that would be raised by a sales call. The “buyer beware” wariness does not translate into “consultee beware!”
Strategies that take the recipient’s self out of the interaction, but preserve the message, sidestep a source of resistance. They minimize the impact of the current request either by making the request seem smaller or by making it seem less important.
In a similar vein, Milton Erickson often devised stories, sort of therapeutic parables, for resistant patients. The stories were apparently about external or inconsequential people and events (e.g., “I once knew someone who. . . .”), but the content and resolution of each story was carefully crafted to mirror the patient’s plight and to identify a path out of the predicament. Because the story ostensibly was not about the patient, it did not engage the resistance that would be sparked by an explicit discussion and prescription for the patient’s dilemma.
The more distant a choice is, the more it is determined by hope and aspiration and the less by fear and inconvenience. Thus, offers are more likely to be accepted if they require future action than if they require immediate action, e.g., “Buy now, pay later!”..Imagining future behavior minimizes the niggling negative aspects of a choice and magnifies the broader purposes and values of the choice.
Guarantees help reduce any reluctance. If one’s partner is worried about feeling trapped at a party, one could say, “Anytime you want to go, just wave at me, and we’ll leave immediately.”
Two-sided messages seem to be generally more effective than one-sided messages in situations where listeners would be resistant enough to the message to think of the counterarguments themselves...Sometimes they lead to less change in the advocated direction, but these situations seem to be ones in which the refutations introduce resistance that was not initially there.
Jacks and O’Brien report that selfaffirmation reduces people’s resistance to persuasion. That is, people who have been praised, reminded of crowning accomplishments, or allowed to succeed at a task are more likely to agree with, that is, less likely to resist, an unrelated persuasive message. The Jacks and O’Brien study suggests that activities that build up people’s sense of efficacy, self-esteem, or confidence have the added effect of making people less wary.
Pratkanis observes that an influencer can disable a target’s resistance by casting the resister in the role of “expert.” Thus, the car salesman can say to the resistant customer, “Well, you drive for a living, so you know what an advantage it is that this car has the best breaking of any vehicle in its class!” Ascribing the “expert” role to the customer places the customer in a double-bind. To keep his status as an expert, the customer has to agree with the salesperson.
Panhandling student experimenters who asked for “some change” received a donation 44% of the time. Being specific and asking for “a quarter” raised this rate to 64%. Being confusing—asking for “37 cents”— produced the highest rate of compliance, at 75%. The “37 cent” request was a central part of the message, invoked confusion about the reason for the specificity, and resulted in people thinking that the requester had a specific purpose in mind.
Muraven and Baumeister’s ego-depletion theory of self-control, if it applies to resistance, implies that people should be less able to resist second requests than first requests. Another way of saying this is that a request should be more effective later in a sequence than earlier in a sequence.
Often, resistance is obstinate but not very discerning. When resistance is a prepotent and undiscriminating response, it can be used against itself. The vernacular calls this “reverse psychology,” telling people not to do what you really want them to do... The purpose of this deception is to get another person who is acting in a contrary way to do what one secretly wants.
Reverse psychology is a dangerous strategy to adopt willy-nilly because you are pulling in the wrong direction, advocating against one’s private interests. Targets of the influence attempt or onlookers could take one’s actions at face value and act in accordance with your stated wishes, thereby thwarting your private desires. Reverse psychology, to be effective, requires that the persuader has (a) almost certain knowledge that the recipient will, in fact, resist any statement and (b) no compunction about lying or misrepresenting his or her private interests.
If you ask students to read an article for next week’s class, you are implicitly structuring the acceptance (read the article) and the resistance (do not read the article) for them. But, if you ask students to read an article slowly and carefully, you have restructured the acceptance slightly (read the article slowly and carefully), but more importantly have restructured the resistance (read the article quickly). Students who are contrary or reactant to influence can now express these motivations in a more benign way, due to how the request is structured.
If the real estate salesperson says, “This house may be more than you want,” the buyers can resist immediately and strongly by looking at their desires. As any real estate agent knows, there may be many houses that are more than a client thinks she can afford, but there are few that are more than a client wants. The Omega strategy here is to recognize where the resistance lies, then to structure the request so that the resistance promotes, or at least is benign to, the change.
One of the ways to turn resistance against itself is to acknowledge it. Usually persuaders are reluctant to mention resistance, mistakenly believing that to identify it and label it is to give it power and credence. The approach–avoidance conflict theory of persuasion proposes that a persuasive message raises both an accepting consideration of the message and a counteractive resistance to that message... Acknowledging the resistance, labeling it, and making its role overt may have the paradoxical effect of defusing its power and rendering that resistance less influential. (e.g., 'You're not going to believe this, but...').
If a person is going to be resistant to a suggestion, one effective strategy may be to offer that person a choice between alternatives. If there is only one alternative, then acceptance and resistance are focused on that alternative, creating the approach–avoidance conflict. However, offering a person a choice between alternatives allows that person to separate the acceptance and the resistance and to apply them to different alternatives. The motivation to resist is satisfied in the rejected alternative at the same time that the approach motivation is satisfied in the accepted alternative.
When a jeweler asks a patron whether she prefers sapphires or rubies, or a car salesman asks a customer if he is considering a red car or a silver car, choosing either alternative moves the shopper closer to a sale.
The customer’s motivation to resist the car salesman or the child’s motivation to resist bedtime is refocused on the rejected alternative. Resisting by rejecting one alternative provides a satisfaction, a sense of efficacy, a sense of being critical and discerning.
The door-in-the-face technique includes an element of providing a focus for resistance. The large request is offered in the hopes that it will be rejected and thereby serve as a release for the target’s resistance to influence.
Erickson and Rossi presumed that the effectiveness of these paradoxical techniques rests on a presumption of promotive collaboration, where the agent and the target are both working for mutual self-interest. When the encounter becomes implicitly defined as a win–lose or antagonistic situation, the target’s resistance is uncontrollable and attempts to manipulate it are ineffective or counterproductive.
Type 1 Omega strategies are sidestepping strategies that work by avoiding or minimizing resistance. There is a variety of strategies of this kind, including redefining the relationship or interaction away from a persuasion interaction to something more benign or collaborative, depersonalizing the interaction so that consequences of compliance would seem to be lessened, minimizing the request so that there is apparently less to react against, raising the comparison so that an offer is compared to something more onerous or costly, and, finally, pushing the choice into the future where higher-level advantages and opportunities become more salient and the lower-level hassles and inconveniences recede in importance.
Type 2 Omega strategies address resistance directly. These are the strategies that attempt to identify the nature of the resistance and then intervene to change that resistance. We described two such strategies. The first is counterarguing the resistance, that is, using a message that provides reasons for not being resistant. The second version is the guarantee, where the sources of resistance are eliminated by contract.
Type 3 Omega strategies address resistance indirectly, by taking away the need to be resistant. We found two clear examples, both represented by chapters in this book. One strategy was to raise self-esteem through self-affirmation...Type 4 Omega strategies distract the recipient while they are receiving a message...Type 5 Omega strategies involve small disruptions in the message, disruptions that bring attention back to the message. These seem to work in different ways than distraction. We suspect they work by disrupting a script-based, mindless processing of the message, and orienting attention again to the message. Type 6 Omega strategies attempt to consume resistance, that is, to reduce resistance by using it up. Repeated requests, messages, or activities that call upon one’s ego resources can deplete those resources.
Type 7 Omega strategies are the paradoxical strategies that seem to turn resistance against itself. We discussed reverse psychology, paradoxical interventions, acknowledging resistance, and providing choices as examples of this Omega strategy. What binds these disparate examples together is that they each accept a person’s resistance and attempt to redirect it, rather than to minimize, counter, or interfere with it.
These are strategies that work, not by increasing the motivation, reason, or incentives to engage in a behavior, but by decreasing the motivation, reasons, or incentives not to engage in that behavior.
Looking Ahead as a Technique to Reduce Resistance to Persuasive Attempts, S. Sherman, M. Crawford, A. McConnell
Social influence always involves resistance on the part of the target of influence. Regardless of the pressures toward acceptance of the influence, there is always a countervailing force in the form of resistance that reduces the likelihood of persuasion being effective. Successful influence, then, will be achieved only when the forces toward acceptance are greater than the forces stemming from resistance. As Knowles and Linn so aptly point out, bringing about a situation where the forces toward acceptance are greater than the forces toward resistance can be achieved either by increasing the positive forces for persuasion or by decreasing the resistance that prevents persuasion...We shall demonstrate that thinking about possibilities in the future can serve as a powerful force to overcome resistance to persuasion.
Engaging in prefactual thinking and anticipating future regret for various choices and outcomes would affect decision strategies because people would be motivated to reduce the likelihood and the amount of future regret. Several studies seem to indicate that people indeed anticipate future regret under certain circumstances and that such prefactual thinking affects choices.
In addition to assessing the absolute level of pleasure or pain associated with an outcome, people are also concerned with minimizing future regret for their choices...The principle that is operating is a relatively simple one: By anticipating future feelings, people can act in the present so as to minimize their future regret.
In light of the recent work on anticipated regret, we wondered whether there might be a feasible alternative explanation. We proposed that reactance findings might be reconceptualized in terms of the anticipation of the amounts of future regret for compliance versus reactance. That is, the choice to go against the dictates of another may be due, in part, to the amount of future possible regret that is anticipated for negative consequences after choosing either the “forbidden” or the “promoted” alternative. In that individuals reliably go against the demands of the other, it seemed possible that they anticipate greater regret if negative outcomes follow compliance with the dictates of another than if the same negative outcomes follow defiance against the dictates. To minimize future regret, individuals will exhibit reactive behavior rather than compliance.
It is not the case that observers feel that compliance will lead to greater potential regret than will reactance. These results suggest that reactance is not a strategy to minimize future regret in persuasion situations. As can be seen in Table 8.1, the predictions for target type were confirmed—greater regret for complying with a stranger than for complying with an expert or a friend, and greater regret for reacting against an expert than against a friend or a stranger...Across these various studies, resistance to the persuasive message—in the form of reactive behavior—was perceived as resulting in greater retrospective regret than was compliant behavior.
When participants were explicitly focused on the possibility of future regret, they were significantly more likely to comply with the persuasive attempt. In fact, over 73% of the participants in this condition complied with the influence attempt...When not focused on future regret, participants showed resistance to the persuasive attempt. That is, when one alternative was promoted, these participants were significantly more likely to show reactance, preferring to choose the threatened alternative...Thus, participants who anticipated regret prior to making their choices showed a markedly different pattern of results (i.e., compliance) than did participants who were not asked about future regret (i.e., reactance).
In terms of anticipated regret, it does appear that in response to an influence attempt, people do not spontaneously consider the possibility of future regret. However, if focused on that possibility, they (mis)anticipate the regret that they would feel in response to reactive behaviors, which leads them toward a behavior that results in greater actual regret after the fact. Thus, having people anticipate future regret is a way to increase compliance with a “push” and to overcome resistance to being influenced.
Simply asking people, prior to their behavioral choice, to anticipate the regret that they might feel in the future for complying with versus reacting against the persuasive attempt appears to be one way to overcome the resistance and increase compliance.
We propose that influence situations involving reactance and compliance can be fruitfully understood by considering them in a dual-process framework. Specifically, we suggest that reactance against an influence attempt is a spontaneous, relatively automatic process. Threats to freedom, like other motivated responses, such as dissonance, drive reduction, and goal-directed behavior, often influence behavior without there being conscious mediation or awareness. On the other hand, we propose that the compliant behavior observed in our anticipated regret condition is a more controlled process. ..Thus, it appears that reactance was the spontaneous response to the influence attempt, but compliance was observed when decision makers were induced to consider additional information (in this case, future feelings of regret) before making their decision.
Similarly, we might expect that people who have sufficient cognitive resources, are greater in need for cognition, and are in negative moods would be relatively less likely to show reactance and be more likely to think about the future, to misanticipate future regret for compliance versus reactance, and thus be more likely to comply in influence situations (yet, perhaps ultimately be less satisfied).
To preserve our freedom (a` la reactance theory), we must buy the item before it is too late. In other words, it may be an anticipation of future regret that explains why scarcity is an effective way to overcome resistance to being influenced. The knowledge of a product’s scarcity may well elicit thoughts of anticipated regret if the item is not purchased right now. This interpretation is based on inducing future regret for resisting the persuasive attempt. Thus, in this case, scarcity works by weakening the forces of resistance through the anticipation of future regret for noncompliance.
By associating negative affect with resistance to persuasion, fear appeals can weaken this resistance. Thus, fear appeals may share certain processes with the already discussed techniques of anticipated regret and scarcity.
Strong fear appeals combined with high-efficacy messages produce the greatest influence, whereas strong fear appeals combined with low-efficacy messages produce the greatest levels of defensive avoidance. This is reminiscent of the effects of scarcity, where high scarcity plus strong messages are the most effective, whereas high scarcity plus weak messages are the least effective.
Sherman identified a simple yet effective strategy for avoiding this resistance. Instead of directly asking people to do something, one simply asks them to predict what they would do if someone were to ask them to do it. Sherman found that compared to a control group that was simply asked to execute the behavior, participants who were asked to predict what they would do were terribly wrong in their predictions—and they were consistently wrong in the direction of overpredicting socially desirable behaviors. ..Thus, the compliance rate was increased by 36% by simply asking participants to predict their own future behavior before presenting them with the full-blown request. This result has been replicated for a number of different behaviors.
The key to increasing compliance rates by predicting the future is that the prediction of a behavior arouses less resistance than actually committing to the behavior. It is simply far easier for one to predict that one will do something than to agree to do it. Agreeing to an action in the “hypothetical future” is benign and one need not resist any direct persuasive attempt. Thus, the technique of increasing compliance through future prediction works by diminishing the negative aspects associated with compliance. In this way, resistance is weakened. Importantly, once the (mis)prediction is made, the likelihood of subsequently agreeing to the full-blown request is greatly increased.
Several process explanations have been offered to explain the self-erasing error of prediction effect. Commitment and consistency, norm salience, and impression management have all been offered as explanations.
Similar to the effects of predicting the future on subsequent judgments and behavior, simply imagining or explaining the future can increase one’s subjective likelihood that an event will occur...Imagining and explaining a hypothetical future event can affect not only one’s judgments of the probability of future events, but also one’s actual future behavior as well.
Most important for our current concerns, simply imagining engaging in a future behavior has the effect of increasing compliance rates with a later request regarding that behavior.
Consistent with the “conditional reference frame” interpretation, Anderson reported that asking participants to consider the alternative possibilities eliminates the effects of imagination or explanation. Considering alternatives prevents the adoption of a focal hypothesis, along with its subsequent biasing effects on judgment and behavior. In addition, imagining a future compliant act may reduce the negative thoughts and feelings associated with the act. In this way, resistance to an influence attempt in the future is weakened, and compliance increases.
Without specific instructions to focus on the past, the act of predicting the time or ease of completion for a task evokes a future orientation about how a task may be done rather than a past orientation where valuable information from similar past procrastination experiences might be gained...Importantly, from our point of view, these overly optimistic completion estimates about the time it will take and the ease of doing things greatly increase the likelihood that we will agree to requests of all types—provided that these requests do not require immediate action.
To the extent that people perceive that future tasks will be done more quickly and easily than is actually the case, and to the extent that they feel confident that they can complete a task successfully, they ought to be more likely to be persuaded to do something if it is not required until a future date than if it is a request for compliance at the present time. Both perceptions of ease of completion and confidence in the success of completion should help overcome resistance to persuasive attempts, and these perceptions are likely for requests about the future...people focus on the general, abstract, and central features of events that are in the far future, but on specific, concrete, and low-level features for events in the near future.
Because there is less resistance to compliance for the distant future than for the near future, one might propose that in order to increase compliance rates, strategies that aim at resistance reduction would be more effective for near-time decisions than for distant decisions, whereas strategies that increase the attraction forces that promote persuasion would be more effective for distant decisions than for near decisions...Although such a difference in promotion versus prevention focus is feasible, things may not be so simple...It might make more sense to consider that both low-level, concrete and high-level, abstract considerations of compliance can involve forces that promote persuasion as well as forces that weaken resistance.
In general, we view resistance as a response by an individual that attempts to eliminate or reduce the impact of another’s influence attempt. Resistance is often based on motivational factors, although cognitive, information-processing factors may be involved as well.
Narratives touch our emotions, impact what we believe, teach us new behaviors, and shape our cultural identity. Indeed, there is little doubt in the minds of many that narratives can be persuasive...Indeed, similar to our own thinking, Slater has suggested that “Use of narratives, in fact, may be one of the only strategies available for influencing the beliefs of those who are predisposed to disagree with the position espoused in the persuasive message”.
Narratives may overcome resistance by reducing the amount and effectiveness of counterarguing or logical consideration of the message. Second, narratives may overcome resistance by increasing identification with characters in the story. Narratives should reduce counterarguing in a number of ways. First, narratives may overcome biased processing in response to counter-attitudinal messages. When presented with a communication advocating a position with which we do not agree, there is a tendency to ignore the message, counterargue the information, or belittle the source
The content of narrative arguments may also be more difficult to discount than that of rhetorical arguments. Narratives are often concerned with relating the life experiences of other people, be they real or fictional. As Slater suggested, it may be especially difficult to counterargue the lived experiences of another real or fictional person. Although one might be able to argue against hypothetical examples (“That would never happen”), it is much more difficult to argue against another’s “real” experiences as conveyed in a narrative.
In a narrative, beliefs are often implied as opposed to stated explicitly. This may inhibit counterarguing because it leaves the reader with no specific arguments to refute. Implied beliefs, however, are not the only means by which narrative may inhibit counterarguing. We agree with others, that the cognitive and emotional demands of absorption into a narrative leave readers with little ability or motivation to generate counterarguments.
We argue that to the extent that a narrative challenges an existing attitude without throwing up the barriers of closedmindedness, we should find attitude change in the direction of the persuasive attempt.
The narrative context may be especially suited to overcoming resistance to persuasion. We believe the power of narrative lies in reducing the amount and effectiveness of counterarguing and through identification with narrative characters that leads to positive associations with specific beliefs and behaviors.
The more readers reported being transported by the narrative, the more they failed to see errors or faulty arguments in that narrative. This lends support to the idea that being transported involves a certain degree of suspension of disbelief or logical inattention. Green and Brock also found that the more transported participants were, the more they tended to endorse beliefs implied by the narrative.
We define resistance to persuasion as a motivated state in which the goal is to withstand the effects of a persuasive communication. We assume that this motivation may be apparent in one’s affective, cognitive, and/or behavioral responses to the persuasion attempt. That is, the motivation to resist may be expressed cognitively (e.g., by counterarguing), affectively (e.g., by getting angry or irritated), and/or behaviorally (e.g., by avoiding counter-attitudinal information).
Briefly stated, the self-concept approach assumes that a key motivator of resistance to persuasion is the need to protect the self-concept from threat and change. Stable selfconceptions, values, and attitudes provide individuals with a sense of control and predictability. When this stability is challenged, individuals feel threatened and should resist change...In turn, manipulations that bolster one’s self-concept or esteem should reduce the motivation to resist persuasion.
Research has shown that self-affirmations serve to “buffer” the self-concept and mitigate the need to engage in attributional analysis, the need to derogate others, the need to ruminate about a frustrated goal, and the propensity to justify one’s dissonance-producing actions through attitude change.
Specifically, we hypothesize that self-affirmations will effectively undermine resistance to persuasion only when (a) the self-affirmation is unrelated to the persuasive message, or (b) when the selfaffirmation is compatible with the persuasive message.
What, then, is the process by which self affirmations influence persuasion dynamics? One unlikely possibility is that the effects are due to the fact that self-affirmations heighten self-focus and increase the salience of one’s attitudes. Previous research suggests that self-focus manipulations enhance resistance to persuasion by increasing the salience of one’s attitudes. Although this explanation could account for the resistance found in our message-incompatible self-affirmation groups, it does not explain the enhanced persuasion found in our unrelated self-affirmation groups. Thus, self-focus alone is an insufficient explanation of our findings.
From one perspective, it could be argued that self-generated affirmations will be most effective in producing effects in a persuasion paradigm. Consistent with this perspective, Aronson has argued, “where important attitudes, behavior, or lifestyle changes are concerned, self-persuasion strategies produce more powerful and more long-lasting effects than do direct techniques of persuasion”.
When attitude change is the goal, our approach suggests that one should identify an affirmation topic that is important to the persuasion target but unrelated to the issue (or at least compatible with it) and then affirm the target on that dimension.
If enhancing resistance is the goal, our findings suggest that one should identify a self-affirmation topic that is incompatible with the objectionable message...self-affirming on a message-incompatible value or trait...should engage self-protection motives by making salient a valued source of identity that is incompatible with the objectionable message.
Automatic Social Influence: The Perception-Behavior Links as an Explanatory Mechanism for Behavior Matching, A. Dijksterhuis
Our behavior is continuously and automatically adjusted to bring it more in line with our social environment. More concretely, we automatically change our behavior to match more closely the behavior of the person (or people) we perceive. This phenomenon is widespread and pertains to a very broad behavioral domain. We match both very basic actions we perceive in others (such as gestures or accents) as well as more complex behavioral patterns (such as intellectual performance or aggressive behavior).
Several studies have obtained evidence for the relation between posture matching and liking--including impressive correlations between matching and positive affect and posture matching and rapport... Upon the perception of people we automatically activate social stereotypes, while upon the perception of behavior we automatically infer personality traits. Now if perception indeed elicits corresponding behavior in the perceiver, the question arises whether this also is true for these more advanced "percepts"--traits and steretypes. Recent evidence demonstrates that this is inded the case.
The principle of ideomotor action states that merely thinking about an action leads automatically to the tendency to engage in this action... Important for researchers was that behavior representations were not only activated after conscious decisions but instead, that a mere fleeting notion of the behavior was enough to elicit the behavior itself... Imagining an action leads to activation of exactly the same motor programs as performing the action.
The fact that behavior representations activate the relevant motor programs--and therefore lead to overt behavior--gives us a lead for explaining behavior matching. After all, all that is needed for overt behavioral changes are activated motor programs and all we need for activated motor programs are activated behavior representations.
Behavior matching of facial expressions, speech related variables, and gestures and postures is the consequence of the perception of these behaviors in others. Whether one perceives a gesture or whether one thinks about a gesture makes presumably no difference. In both cases behavior representations are activated, ultimately leading to performance of this behavior.
It was found that vertical head movements were associated with and facilitated agreement, whereas horizontal head movements were associated with and facilitated disagreement. In essence, the head movements primed the concepts of agreement and disagreement. When agreement was primed, people agreed with the message, and when disagreement was primed, people disagreed with the message.
Perhaps one of the most interesting contaminants of people's behavior, and one that has generated considerable recent research attention, is the effect of stereotypes activation on action... The general result of this research is that activation of stereotypes often leads people to behave in ways that are consistent with the activated stereotype... Stereotype activation not only leads to negative performance effects, but also can produce positive effects... It has been demonstrated that the activation or priming of a particular concept in memory increases the likelihood that this concept will influence subsequent judgments and behaviors.
It might be thought that thoughtful people would be less susceptible to subtle effects than nonthoughtful people. This is because thoughtful people might be better able to override these relatively automatic effects with deliberative and controlled information processing... On the other hand, it could be that even subliminal manipulations have a greater impact on those who like to think because thinkers have a lower threshold for activation of a wide variety of concepts.
One well replicated finding is that positive emotional states lead people to overestimate the likelihood of positive events relative to negative states, and negative states lead people to overestimate the likelihood of negative events relative to positive states.
Effects of specific emotional states on judgments: No significant effects were obtained for nonthoughtful individuals. On the other hand, for thoughtful individuals, emotional state biased judgments as predicted. That is, sad individuals were more persuaded by the sad than the angering message, but angered individuals were more persuaded by the angry than the sad message.
It is apparent from considerable prior research on category priming, that the biasing effects of primes can become attenuated and can even be reversed when the priming becomes blatant or obvious. But, there is relatively little work on differential susceptibility to these reversals. For some of the same reasons that thoughtful people and thoughtful situations might exacerbate the effects of subtle primes, thoughtful people and thoughtful situations should be more prone to a reverse bias when the priming becomes blatant, and people may want to avoid being influenced by an obvious biasing factor.
When sad, thoughtful people saw sad consequences as more likely, and thus were more persuaded by a message containing sad than angering arguments. But, when angered, thoughtful people saw angering consequences as more likely, and thus were more persuaded by a message containing angering than sad arguments... When the emotional induction was quite salient and obvious, however, thoughtful people responded quite differently. These individuals showed a very clear reverse bias... It was thought that what accounted for the reverse bias effect was theory-driven overcorrection. That is, if people think they are biased by mood or the experimental instructions, don't want to be, have an overestimate of the magnitude of bias, and have the resources to correct for the presumed bias, a reverse bias would result.
The evidence reviewed here suggests that it is the very complexity and indeterminacy of many social encounters that enables affect to play a role in how people use, interpret, and respond to social influence. The principle appears to be that the more complex and ambiguous a social situation, the more likely people will need to draw on their preexisting knowledge and engage in open, constructive thinking in order to plan and enact appropriate influence strategies. A number of theories as well as empirical studies now predict that such open, elaborate processing strategies are more likely to be influenced by affective states.
Philosophers and writers have long been fascinated by the complex influence of affect on interpersonal relations. Many of these theorists saw affect as a dangerous, invasive force that tends to subvert rational thinking, and impairs the effective use of power and influence... Recent evidence suggests that affect is often a necessary and useful component of adequately responding to difficult social situations.
Affective reactions certainly seem to play a primary role in determining how people evaluate everyday social situations, and how they categorize social stimuli... In an experiment testing pscyhoanalytic predictions, Feshbach predicted that attempts to suppress affect should increase the 'pressure' for affect to infuse unrelated behaviors and judgments. As expected, participants fearing electric shocks were more likely to see another person as fearful and anxious, and this effect was greater when participants were instructed to suppress their fear. Feshbach argued that "supression of fear facilitates the tendency to project fear onto another social object."
Two theories linking affect to judgments have received empirical support. The affect-as-information model argues that people sometimes directly use their prevailing affective state as information in inferring their responses to social situations. The alternative affect priming theory predicts that affect will influence the outcome of social judgments and behaviors through selectively priming and making more accessible affect-related constructs... Thus, affective states influence attitudes and behaviors because of an inferential error: People may misread their prevailing affective states and may misattribute it to an unrelated person or situation, as long as the cause of the affective state is not salient at the time. This strategy is most likely when people lack sufficient interest, motivation, or resources to compute a more elaborate response.
Generally, people in a positive affective state tend to use less effortful and more superficial processing strategies, reach decisions more quickly, use less information, avoid demanding, systematic thinking, and are more confident about their responses. In contrast, negative affect frequently triggers a more effortful, systematic, analytic and vigilant processing style. However, positive affect also can produce distinct processing advantages. People in a positive mood often adopt more creative, open, constructive, and inclusive thinking styles, and show greater cognitive and behavioral flexibility.
Judgmental mistakes such as the fundamental attribution error tend to be reduced when people experience negative affect. This seems to occur because aversive mood makes people pay greater attention to situational information and process their responses in a more careful, piecemeal fashion. It may be that negative affect also has a corresponding beneficial influence on the production of some social influence strategies that require attention to situational details, such as the generation of higher quality persuasive messages... A study found that negative mood improved argument quality, but only when there was no external reward. The provision of a reward eliminated mood effects on argument quality by imposing a strong external influence on how the task was approached, and thereby overriding more subtle internal mood effects.
Findings show that changes in mood state can have a disproportionate influence on how people perceive social influence situations. Observed behaviors require inferential processing and interpretation to be understood. The mind-set that observers bring to the task--influenced by their affective state and their affectively primed thoughts and associations--is thus likely to have a significant impact. As this study suggests, even simple, relatively unambiguous behaviors such as a smile or a nod that may appear 'friendly' when the observer is in a good mood may well be judged as 'awkward' or 'condescending' when the observer experiences negative affect.
There are five major links between power and language. Two of them can be grouped under 'power behind language.' That is, language can (1) reveal and (2) reflect the power that lies behind it, but has no power of its own... In revealing and reflecting power, language is used as a passive conduit or enhancer of power but has no power of its own. On the other hand, individuals or group members can use language (3) to create influence, (4) to depoliticize their influence attempts, and (5) to make an existing dominance relationship routine so it seems natural. These three language-power links, that constitute the 'power of language,' represent different levels of influencing.
How do group members sort themselves out into high and low influence members? Can one track hierarchical formation to prior verbal interactions? If yes, what aspects of language use are responsible for creating hierarchy? What might this tell us about the social psychological processes of influencing, and how might those processes differ from group to intergroup contexts?
In newly formed groups made up of unacquainted persons of similar background, Bales found that power differentiation within the group corresponded to the differential distribution of talk among group members. Those who talked more were more likely to emerge as leaders and be acknowledged as such. The power of speaking turns, more so than utterance content, was explained in economic or resource terms: "When one member speaks, it takes time and attention from all other members. To take up time speaking in a small group is to exercise power over the other members for at least the duration of the time taken, regardless of the content."... These results and others indicate that the process of conversational interaction is important for understanding influencing in both group and intergroup contexts.
Speakers who use prototypical utterances help to define and delineate group identities. For this they will be granted speaking rights and hence the ability to gain turns. For the same reason, listeners will be extraordinarily attentive and this allows longer turns to develop. More turns and longer turns then channel conversational resources to those speakers, thus putting them in a strong position to exercise influence.
Could it ever be an adaptive influence strategy to reveal negative or damaging information about ourselves? In this chapter we argue that the answer is frequently in the affirmative.
Stealing thunder involves revealing incriminating evidence about oneself before someone else reveals it. The aim of stealing thunder is to minimize the damage of the incriminating evidence... The strategy behind it involves ascertaining whether the weaknesses are likely to be discovered by another, and if so, divulging the information first.
Stealing thunder could backfire for several reasons. First, it creates a negative schema of a person. Revealing damaging information early may create a negative first impression that biases another's perception... Second, stealing thunder may be expected to be ineffective because it increases the salience and hence the availability of negative information... Third, by admitting negative information, all doubts as to the veracity of the information should evaporate, leaving the other person no option but to see the information as factual.
What reasons, then, can we assemble from social psychology that would predict its effectiveness? First, speaking against one's self-interest is one way to be seen as more credible. Audiences may not be able to imagine why an individual would reveal negative information, and may be left with the only plausible conclusion--this is an honest person. People might be more forgiving of someone's discretions if they feel closer to the person or think that the individual is being sincere, honest, and forthright with them... Second, because thunder stealers are first to reveal the potentially damaging information, they have the opportunity to put a positive or discounting spin on it. They can frame the thunder in a way that diminishes its importance or makes it seem negligible or irrelevant... Similarly, McGuire's inoculation theory suggests that providing message recipients with a weakened version of the opposing position makes them resistant to its influence later.
The tactic of stealing thunder may not always work, and in fact, may be counterproductive in certain instances... First, results indicate that if participants are more likely to scrutinize the message, stealing thunder will not work. This explanation implies that the act of stealing thunder may be relied upon as a heuristic or peripheral cue that allows message recipients to arrive at a decision without engaging in effortful processing. A second possibility is that stealing thunder only works for individuals who are not already disliked by message recipients.
Knowles and colleagues have shown through a series of clever manipulations that simply changing the wording of simple requests to be unexpected by making them slightly nonsensical is sufficient to increase compliance. Perhaps to some extent it is the unexpected nature of such an admission that accounts for increased compliance with the revealer's desires... Could stealing thunder be another means of presenting a story in an unexpected way, thus increasing compliance with the stealer's intent? Another explanation is that stealing thunder works because the person is presenting counterstereotypic information that forces others to reinterpret the thunder information in a more positive light or recategorize the source's identity.
Social Influence and Intergroup Beliefs: The Role of Perceived Social Consensus, C. Stangor, G. Sechrist, J. Jost
Stereotypes are developed and changed as a result of information that comes from indirect sources such as parents, peers, and the media, and through direct contact with members of social outgroups... According to intergroup contact approaches, intergroup beliefs are the result of interactions with outgroup members. It has been proposed that stereotypes develop through direct (but frequently biased) observation of the behaviors of members of different social groups, and from observing the behaviors of others in the media... Therefore, it is worth considering the potential that stereotypes and prejudice are the result, at least in good part, of perceptions of ingroup norms, in addition to any potential learning that occurs through direct intergroup contact... Thus, knowledge about the beliefs of other ingroup members should have an important influence on stereotyping and prejudice, such that individuals' intergroup beliefs develop and change as a function of their perceptions of the beliefs of relevant others. Discovering that members of one's own group are favorable toward an outgroup should lead to positive beliefs, whereas learning that members of one's own group are unfavorable toward an outgroup should lead to negative beliefs.
According to Festinger's theory of social comparison, people have a need to actively evaluate and compare their opinions in order to establish a sense of validity or correctness in their own beliefs. When objective or physical means of evaluation are unavailable, people turn to similar others or ingroup members to have their opinions validated or to assess the correctness of their beliefs... Individuals grasp reality through interaction with and verification of others, and people need validation from others to develop their own view of reality... Accordingly, it is the need to feel certainty or confidence in one's beliefs that drives social influence. The awareness of the beliefs of others serves the functions of reducing uncertainty and acquiring knowledge about one's social world.
According to social identity and self-categorization theories, when an individual defines himself as a member of a group that he considers important, the individual is motivated to agree with this ingroup... Thus, people are expected to change their beliefs to the extent that they identify with members of the ingroup. Social identity and self-categorization theories suggest that social validation by others occurs such that people change their beliefs because they desire identification or affiliation with other ingroup members... Thus, information about the beliefs of others may be effective in changing opinions largely because of needs to identify and affiliate with other people.
In a study, students who received feedback indicating that other students held more favorable stereotypes than they originally estimated expressed more positive and fewer negative stereotypes after the feedback than before it. On the other hand, participants who received feedback indicating that others held more unfavorable stereotypes than they originally estimated subsequently expressed more negative, but not fewer positive, stereotypes... According to current models, stereotypes represent the beliefs that are mentally associated with category labels in memory, and thus which come to mind when the category is activated... Taken as a whole, then, the results of our research programs demonstrate that perceiving that others share or do not share stereotypes and prejudce exerts a strong influence on subsequent stereotyping and prejudice.
If racial stereotypes persist in large part because people assume that negative intergroup beliefs are socially shared by others, then the potential for undermining these negative beliefs through the presentation of consensus feedback is a promising intervention. If unfavorable beliefs are the result of ingroup norms, changing prejudice involves changing those norms... We are thoroughly influenced, often without being aware of it, by the opinions of others, regardless of whether or not we are perceiving those opinions accurately. The optimistic message that comes from our research programs is that perceived consensus and social influence processes can be used to undermine stereotyping and prejudice.
Learning is of great interest because it is a pervasive feature of human behavior that is also evident in many other animal species. It has been found in creatures as diverse as fruit flies, sea slugs, honeybees, rodents, birds, and monkeys. Learning is one of the basic features of behavior.
Learning is identified by a change in behavior. Many, but not all, instances of learning involve the acquisition of new responses. We also learn not to do certain things. Learning to inhibit or suppress behavior is often as important as learning new responses. Riding a bicycle, for example, requires learning to pedal as well as learning not to lean too much to one side or the other. Thus, the change in behavior that is used to identify learning can be either an increase or a decrease in a particular response.
A major feature of learning that makes it different from other forms of behavior change is that learning is relatively long-lasting, which distinguishes it from various short-term or temporary changes in behavior. Physiological factors such as fatigue and drowsiness can cause widespread and dramatic changes in behavior (for example, your actions may become slower and less vigorous). However, such changes are temporary and can be reversed easily by a good rest. Major short-term changes in behavior also can be caused by changes in motivation. For example, people are much more reactive to stimuli related to food when they are hungry than when they are full. Changes in stimulus conditions can also cause widespread but short-term changes in behavior. A fire alarm can quickly turn a quietly seated audience into an anxiously scrambling mob, but the same people will again sit quietly the next time they go to the movies. Learning, by contrast, involves longerterm changes. The assumption is that once something is learned, it will be remembered for some time. You are not considered to have learned a new concept discussed in class if you cannot remember it the next day.
Practice is not needed for maturation, but it is required for learning. Practice is obviously necessary to learn a skill such as swimming or riding a bicycle. One cannot become a good swimmer without spending a lot of time rehearsing various swim strokes, and one cannot become an expert bicycle rider without extensive practice with pedaling, steering, and balancing. In contrast, other things can be learned very quickly. Regardless of the amount of practice involved, however, all learning requires some practice or experience specifically related to the acquired behavior.
Learning may not be evident in the actions of an organism for a variety of reasons. One possibility is that what is learned is a relationship between stimuli or events in the environment rather than a particular response. For example, we may learn to associate the color red with ripe apples. The learning of an association between two stimuli is called S-S learning, or stimulus-stimulus learning. A learned association between red and ripeness will not be reflected in what we do unless we are given a special task, such as judging the ripeness of apples. S-S learning is usually not evident in the actions of an organism unless special test procedures are used.
Examples of behaviorally silent learning suggest that learning cannot be equated with a change in behavior. Rather, learning involves a change in the kinds of things an organism could do given the right circumstances. Thus, learning involves a change in the, potential for doing something.
Learning involves a change in the potential or neural mechanisms of behavior. The change is relatively long-lasting and is the result of experience with environmental events specifically related to the behavior in question. These characteristics are combined in the following definition: Learning is a relatively enduring change in the potential to engage in a particular behavior resulting from experience with environmental events A specifically related to that behavior.
The causes of behavior can only be discovered using experimental observations. Experimental observations require the investigator to manipulate the environment in special ways that facilitate reaching a causal conclusion. To determine what factors encourage squirrels to bury seeds, the environment has to be manipulated to isolate each possible causal variable.
Although experimental observations permit drawing conclusions about the causes of behavior, it is important to realize that the causes of behavior cannot be observed directly. Rather, causes are inferred from differences in behavior seen under different experimental conditions. Causal conclusions are inferences based on a comparison of two (or more) experimental conditions. Causes cannot be observed directly...Some have advocated that detailed investigations of learning should begin with naturalistic observations of learning phenomena. However, naturalistic observations are inherently unsuitable for studies of learning because they cannot identify causal variables.
To conclude that a behavior change is a result of learning, we must compare the behavior of individuals under two conditions. In the experimental condition, participants are provided with the relevant environmental experience or training. In the control condition, participants do not receive the relevant training but are treated identically in all other respects. The occurrence of learning is inferred from a comparison between the two conditions. One cannot conclude that learning has occurred by observing only individuals who have acquired the skill of interest. Conclusions about learning require a comparison between the experimental and control conditions.
An important consequence of the fact that learning can only be inferred from a comparison of experimental and control conditions is that learning is usually investigated with at least two independent groups of participants, an experimental group and a control group. Thus, traditional studies of learning involve the use of between-subjects experimental designs.
Learning is evident in a change in behavior— either the acquisition of a new response or the suppression of an existing response. Not all instances of altered behavior involve learning, however, and not all instances of learning produce immediately observable changes in behavior. The term "learning" is restricted to cases in which an enduring change in the potential to engage in a particular behavior results from prior experience with environmental events specifically related to that behavior.
Learning enables organisms to benefit from experience. Through learning, behavior can be altered in ways that make the organism more effective in interacting with its environment. Animals can forage more effectively by learning where and when food is likely to be available, they can defend themselves more successfully by learning when and where they are likely to encounter a predator, and they can be more effective in reproduction by learning when and where they are likely to encounter a potential sexual partner.
For our present purposes, it is sufficient to point out that, through shaping, an organism's behavior can be gradually changed to enable it to perform entirely new responses. A child's uncoordinated arm and leg movements, for example, can be gradually shaped to enable her to swim rapidly across a pool...Behavior cannot be changed in any direction with equal ease. Changes in behavior occur in the context of genetically programmed predispositions that make certain changes easier to produce than others. For example, it is much easier to train animals to approach and manipulate food-related stimuli than it is to train them to release or withdraw from such stimuli...Learning psychologists have to pay close attention to how what they are trying to teach an organism fits with the organism's preexisting behavioral tendencies. Therefore, understanding how learning occurs requires an appreciation of the heterogeneous behavioral substrate that organisms bring into a learning situation.
Descartes pointed out that animals and people also perform certain actions in response to a particular environmental stimulus. For example, we quickly withdraw our finger when we touch a hot stove, we "instinctively" flinch when we hear a sudden noise, and we extend our arm when we lose our footing. Such responses to particular stimuli are examples of elicited behavior....Descartes coined the term reflex to capture this idea of behavior being a reflection of an eliciting stimulus. The entire unit from stimulus input to response output was called the reflex arc.
Reflexes are involved in many aspects of behavior important for sustaining critical life functions. Respiratory reflexes provide us with sufficient air intake. The suckling reflex provides a newborn's first contact with milk, and chewing, swallowing, and digestive reflexes are important in obtaining nutrients throughout life. Postural reflexes enable us to maintain stable body positions, and withdrawal reflexes protect us from focal sources of injury.
These units of elicited behavior are commonly called fixed-action patterns, or FAPs. The phrase "action pattern" is used instead of "response" because the activities involved are not restricted to a single muscle movement such as the blink of the eye or the flexion of a leg muscle. Elicited responses involved in grooming, foraging, courtship, and parental behavior require a coordinated set of a number of different muscles. The word "fixed" is used to signify that most members of the species perform the action pattern in question and do so in a highly stereotyped, or "fixed," fashion. An action pattern is a characteristic of the species. For example, infant mammals typically feed by suckling, infant gulls typically feed by gaping and receiving food from a parent, and infant chickens typically feed by pecking small spots on the ground. Because fixed-action patterns are characteristic of a species, they are examples of species-typical behavior.
Fixed-action patterns occur in the context of rich and complex arrays of stimulation. The restricted set of stimuli that are required to elicit a fixed-action pattern is called a sign stimulus. A sign stimulus is often a remarkably small part of the cues that ordinarily precede a fixed-action pattern.
One prominent factor that serves to coordinate fixed-action patterns is the internal state of the organism. The occurrence of many action patterns depends on the organism's motivational state. For example, in numerous species courtship and sexual responses occur only during the breeding season. In fact, the situation can be even more restrictive...Motivational factors have been identified for a variety of fixed-action patterns, including aggression, feeding, and various aspects of parental behavior. The motivational state sets the stage for a fixed-action pattern, whose actual occurrence is then triggered by a sign stimulus. In a sense, the sign stimulus releases the fixed action pattern when the animal is in a particular motivational state. Because of, this, a sign stimulus is also sometimes referred to as a releasing stimulus.
Ethologists considered the motivational state of the organism to be one of the key factors involved in the organization of behavior. Using motivational concepts, they formulated an influential model for how fixed-action patterns are organized, referred to as the hydraulic model of behavior. The hydraulic model assumes that certain factors lead to the buildup of a particular type of motivation or drive. The hunger drive, for example, is created by the expenditure of energy and the utilization of nutrients... Thus, the motivational state facilitates fixed-action patterns and the opportunity to perform those responses in turn reduces the motivational state.
One way to think about appetitive and consummatory behavior is to see appetitive behavior as consisting of activities that enable an organism to come into contact with stimuli that will elicit the fixed-action patterns that serve to end the response sequence. For example, male appetitive sexual behavior involves searching for a female. Once the female is encountered, the stimuli provided by the female elicit a more restricted range of courtship and copulatory responses. Copulatory responses then discharge the motivation to engage in sexual behavior and consummate or end the sexual behavior sequence.
All instances of learning reflect an interaction between the training procedures used and the individual's preexisting behavior. Therefore, understanding how learning occurs requires an appreciation of unconditioned behavioral mechanisms. Unconditioned behavior is not homogeneous and modifiable in any direction; it has its own set structure. The simplest unit of unconditioned behavior is the reflex, which consists of a specific eliciting stimulus and a corresponding elicited response. More complex forms of elicited behavior, studied by ethologists, involve fixed-action patterns that are elicited by sign stimuli.
A behavior system consists of a sequentially organized set of response modes, each of which is characterized by particular responses and increased sensitivity to particular types of stimuli.
Descartes was correct in pointing out that certain actions are triggered by eliciting stimuli. But he was wrong in characterizing reflexes as invariant and energized by their eliciting stimuli. Nevertheless, his views continue to dominate how laypersons think about reflexes. People commonly consider reflexes to be automatic and fixed. In fact, the term "reflexive" is sometimes used as a synonym for "automatic." However, scientists have shown that reflexes do not occur in the same way each time an eliciting stimulus is presented. In fact, as we will see in this chapter, elicited behavior can be remarkably flexible. Responses to an eliciting stimulus can increase (showing sensitization) or decrease (showing habituation), depending on the circumstances. In addition, the energy for reflex action is not provided by the eliciting stimulus.
Why should reflexive behavior be modifiable? Why do we need habituation and sensitization? Basically, habituation and sensitization keep us from wasting effort on things that are irrelevant and allow us to focus our actions on things that are important. Habituation and sensitization regulate our reflex responses and increase the efficiency of our interactions with the environment. Without habituation and sensitization, behavior would be totally enslaved to the vicissitudes of the environment.
Consider the orienting response. We orient and turn toward novel visual and auditory stimuli (someone entering the room, for example). However, if all of the stimuli in our environment elicited an orienting response, we would be wasting much of our effort. Many stimuli are not important enough to warrant our attention. While talking to someone in the living room, we need not orient to the sounds of a refrigerator humming in the background or a car going by on the street. Habituation and sensitization serve to regulate and organize our responsivity to environmental events. They ensure that we respond vigorously to some stimuli while ignoring others.
Physiology is replete with examples of regulation, and in physiological systems the target range is typically referred to as the homeostatic level. Perhaps the most obvious example of a homeostatic system is temperature regulation in warm-blooded animals, or endotherms. The body temperature of endotherms is regulated so precisely by physiological and behavioral mechanisms that a deviation from the homeostatic level of just one or two degrees is interpreted as a sign of illness.
In general, regulation is achieved by the activation of opponent processes, processes that counteract or oppose each other. Opponent process concepts have been used in a variety of areas of conditioning and learning. Our first encounter with such processes is in this chapter. Habituation and sensitization are opposing influences that regulate the vigor of elicited behavior. Habituation causes decrements in reactivity; sensitization causes increments in responding.
A decrease in the vigor of elicited behavior is called a habituation effect. In contrast, an increase in responsivity is called a sensitization effect... Another common experimental preparation for the study of habituation and sensitization involves the startle response. The startle response is a sudden movement or flinch caused by a novel stimulus. If someone broke a balloon behind you (making a loud popping sound), you would suddenly hunch your shoulders and pull in your neck. Startle is a common human reaction in a variety of cultures. The sudden movement that characterizes the startle reflex can be easily measured, and this has encouraged numerous studies of habituation and sensitization of the startle reflex.
Perhaps the most important feature of habituation is that it is specific to the particular stimulus that has been repeatedly presented. If the stimulus is altered, the habituated response recovers, with the degree of recovery determined by how similar the new stimulus is to the one that had been previously presented. Stimulus specificity is a defining feature of habituation.
The effects of habituation training transfer to other nearby locations. This is called stimulus generalization of habituation. Test stimuli that are presented greater distances from the original training position elicit progressively more responding. This illustrates the stimulus specificity of habituation. The habituated response recovers when the eliciting stimulus is sufficiently different from the training stimulus.
Habituation effects are often temporary. They dissipate or are lost as time passes without presentation of the eliciting stimulus. A loss of the habituation effect is evident in a recovery of responding. Because the response recovery is produced by a period without stimulation (a period of rest), the phenomenon is called spontaneous recovery.
Habituation effects have been classified by whether or not they exhibit spontaneous recovery. Cases in which substantial spontaneous recovery occurs are called short-term habituation, and cases in which significant spontaneous recovery does not occur are called long-term habituation.
The frequency of a stimulus refers to how often the stimulus is repeated in a block of time—how often the stimulus occurs per minute, for example. The higher the stimulus frequency, the shorter the period of rest between repetitions of the stimulus. As we saw in the phenomenon of spontaneous recovery, the duration of rest between stimulations can significantly influence responding. Because higher stimulus frequencies permit less spontaneous recovery between trials, in general, responding declines more rapidly with more frequent stimulation. In contrast, responding does not decline as rapidly if the frequency of stimulation is low.
Habituation is also determined by the intensity of the stimulus. In general, responding declines more slowly if the eliciting stimulus is more intense. For example, laboratory rats are slower to lose their neophobic response to strong flavors than to weak ones.
One of the remarkable features of habituation is that it is not determined solely by the eliciting stimulus. The degree of habituation is also influenced by other stimuli the organism experiences. In particular, exposure to a second stimulus can result in recovery of a previously habituated response. This phenomenon is called dishabituation.
Sensitization effects are influenced by the same stimulus intensity and time factors that govern habituation phenomena. In general, greater sensitization effects (greater increases in responding) occur with more intense eliciting stimuli. Like habituation, sensitization effects can be short-term or long-term. Short-term sensitization decays as a result of time without stimulation. In contrast to short-term sensitization, long-term sensitization is evident even after appreciable periods without stimulation.
According to the dual-process theory, habituation and sensitization processes are presumed to operate in different parts of the nervous system. For the purposes of the dual-process theory, the nervous system is conceptualized as consisting of two functional components, the S-R system and the state system. The S-R system is the shortest path in the nervous system between an eliciting stimulus and the resulting elicited response. The S-R system corre spends to Descartes's reflex arc. It is the minimal physiological machinery A involved in a reflex. The state system consists of all neural processes that are not an integral part of the S-R system but influence the responsivity of the S-R system.
After one understands the categorization of the nervous system into S-R and state components, the rest of the dual-process theory is fairly simple. As I noted earlier, the dual-process theory presumes the existence of separate habituation and sensitization processes. A critical aspect of the theory concerns the locus of action of these processes. The habituation process is assumed to take place in the S-R system, whereas the sensitization process is assumed to take place in the state system.
Habituation and sensitization processes are not directly evident in the behavior of the organism. Rather, observable behavior reflects the net effect of these processes. The habituation and sensitization processes serve as opponent mechanisms regulating reflex responsivity. Whenever the habituation process is stronger than the sensitization process, the net effect is a decline in behavioral output. The opposite outcome occurs if the sensitization process is stronger than the habituation process. In that event, the net effect of the two processes is an increase in behavioral output.
The universality of the habituation process does not mean that a habituation effect, or a decrement in responding, will always be observed. Whether a habituation effect is evident will depend on whether the habituation process is counteracted by activation of the sensitization process. Whether a habituation effect is observed will also depend on when the eliciting stimulus is presented relative to its previous occurrence. If two presentations of a stimulus are separated by a long rest interval, habituation created by the first stimulus will have a chance to decay completely before the stimulus is repeated, and a decrement in responding will not be observed. On the other hand, if the interval between stimulus presentations is too short to permit complete decay of the habituation process, a decrement in responding will occur.
When is the sensitization process activated? An informal way to think about this is that sensitization represents arousal. Sensitization or arousal occurs if the organism encounters a stimulus that is particularly intense or significant. You can become aroused by a loud unexpected noise, as well as by someone telling you in a soft voice that a close friend was seriously hurt in an accident. The state system and the sensitization process are activated by intense or significant stimuli.
The dual-process theory is remarkably successful in characterizing shortterm habituation and short-term sensitization effects. However, the theory is inconsistent with instances of long-term habituation and long-term sensitization. Explanations of long-term habituation and sensitization typically include mechanisms of associative learning.
Reflexive or elicited behavior is commonly considered to be an automatic and invariant consequence of the eliciting stimulus. Contrary to this notion, however, repeated presentations of an eliciting stimulus may result in a monotonic decline in responding (a habituation effect), an increase in responding (a sensitization effect) followed by a decline, or a sustained increase in behavior. Thus, far from being invariant, elicited behavior is remarkably sensitive to different forms of prior experience. The magnitude of habituation and sensitization effects depends on the intensity and frequency of the eliciting stimulus. Responding elicited by one stimulus can also be altered by the prior presentation of a different event (as in the phenomenon of dishabituation).
Although they differ in important ways, a maj or common feature of habituation, sensitization, and Pavlovian conditioning procedures is that they are defined independently of the actions of the organism. What the participants do as a result of the procedures does not influence the stimuli they receive.
Another important category of learning involves situations in which the presentation of an unconditioned stimulus depends on the individual's actions. Such cases involve instrumental conditioning or operant conditioning. Instrumental conditioning procedures involve the periodic presentation of a significant stimulus or event. However, whether or not the event occurs depends on the behavior of the organism. Common examples of instrumental behavior involve pulling up the covers to get warm in bed, putting ingredients together to make lemonade, changing the channel to find a particular television show, and saying "hello" to someone to get a greeting in return. In all of these cases, a particular response is required to obtain a specific stimulus or consequent outcome. Because the response is instrumental in producing the outcome, the response is referred to as instrumental behavior. The consequent outcome (the warmth, the tasty lemonade, the television show, and the reciprocal greeting) is referred to as the reinforcer.
In an instrumental conditioning procedure, the participant has to perform the required response before the outcome or reinforcer is delivered. Given this restriction, how can instrumental procedures be used to condition responses that never occur on their own? The learning of entirely new responses is possible because of the variability of behavior. Variability is perhaps the most obvious feature of behavior. Organisms rarely do the same thing twice in exactly the same fashion. Response variability is usually considered a curse because it makes predicting and controlling behavior difficult. However, for learning new responses, variability is a blessing.
Shaping is used when the goal is to condition instrumental responses that are not in the participant's existing behavioral repertoire. New behavior is shaped by imposing a series of response criteria. The response criteria gradually take the participant from its starting behavioral repertoire to the desired target response.
In setting up a shaping procedure, the desired final performance must be defined clearly. This sets the goal or end point of the shaping procedure. Next, the existing behavioral repertoire of the participant has to be documented so that the starting point is well understood. Finally, a sequence of training steps have to be designed to take the participant from its starting behavior to the final target response. The sequence of training steps involves successive approximations to the final response. Therefore, shaping is typically defined as the reinforcement of successive approximations. Shaping is useful not only in training entirely new responses but also in training new combinations of existing response components.
Instrumental conditioning is basically a response selection process. The response (or unique combination of response components) that results in the delivery of the reinforcer is selected from the diversity of actions the organism performs in the situation. It is critical to this response selection process that the reinforcer be delivered immediately after the desired or target response. If the reinforcer is delayed, other activities are bound to occur between the target response and the reinforcer, and one of those other activities may be reinforced instead of the target response.
Delivering a primary reinforcer immediately after the target response is not always practical. For example, the opportunity to go to a playground serves as an effective reinforcer for children in elementary school. However, it would be disruptive to allow a child to go outside each time he finishes a math problem. A more practical approach is to give the child a coin or token for each problem completed, and then allow those tokens to be exchanged for the opportunity to go to the playground. With such a procedure, the primary reinforcer (access to the playground) is delayed after the instrumental response, but the instrumental response is immediately followed by a stimulus (the token) that is associated with the primary reinforcer. A stimulus that is associated with a primary reinforcer is called a conditioned (or secondary) reinforcer. The delivery of a conditioned reinforcer immediately after the instrumental response overcomes the ineffectiveness of delayed reinforcement in instrumental conditioning.
The ineffectiveness of delayed reinforcement also can be overcome by presenting a marking stimulus immediately after the target response. A marking stimulus is not a conditioned reinforcer and does not provide information about a future opportunity to obtain primary reinforcement. Rather, it is a brief visual or auditory cue that distinguishes the target response from the other activities the participant is likely to perform during a delay interval. In this way the marking stimulus makes the instrumental response more memorable and helps overcome the deleterious effect of the reinforcer delay.
The stimuli an organism experiences whenever it performs a required instrumental response may be represented by S. These considerations suggest that an instrumental conditioning situation is made up of not just the response R and the reinforcer S* but also the set of stimuli S in the presence of which the instrumental response occurs. The three components, S, R, and S*, allow for the establishment of several event relations in instrumental conditioning in addition to the R-S relation
Thorndike proposed that during the course of instrumental conditioning an association comes to be established between the response R and the environmental stimuli S. In fact, Thorndike thought that the S-R association was the only thing learned in instrumental conditioning. He summarized his thinking in the Law of Effect. The Law of Effect states that instrumental learning involves the formation of an association between the instrumental response R and the stimuli S in the presence of which the response is performed. The reinforcer delivered after the response serves to strengthen or "stamp in" the S-R association, but the reinforcer is not one of the elements of that association.
According to the Law of Effect, instrumental learning does not involve learning to associate the reinforcer with the response. It does not involve the establishment of an R-S* association or learning about the reinforcer. Rather, instrumental conditioning only results in the establishment of an SR association. The reinforcer S* is important just as a catalyst for the learning of the S-R association.
Skinner emphasized that in instrumental conditioning the reinforcer S is presented contingent on the prior occurrence of the response R, not contingent on the prior occurrence of S. However, the R-S contingency is in effect only in the presence of S. Based on these considerations, he suggested that a higher-order relation becomes established in which S signals the existence of the R-S* contingency or sets the occasion for the R-S* association. Skinner referred to this as a "three-part contingency." The three-part contingency may be represented as S(R-S*).
In instrumental conditioning, the delivery of a biologically significant event or reinforcer depends on the prior occurrence of a specified instrumental or operant response. The instrumental behavior may be a preexisting response that the organism has to perform in a new situation, a set of familiar response components that the organism has to put together in an unfamiliar combination, or an activity that is entirely novel to the organism. Successful learning in each case requires delivering the reinforcer immediately after the instrumental response or providing a conditioned reinforcer or marking stimulus immediately after the response...Reinforcement of R in the presence of S allows for the establishment of S-R, S-S , R-S , and S(R-S*) associations.
Whether a particular occurrence of the instrumental response results in the reinforcer can depend on a variety of factors. Sometimes, the response has to be repeated a number of times before the reinforcer is delivered. In other situations, the response is only reinforced after a certain amount of time has passed. In yet other cases, both repetition and the passage of time are critical. The rule that specifies which occurrence of the instrumental response is reinforced is called a schedule of reinforcement.
Schedules of reinforcement have been of great interest because they determine many aspects of instrumental behavior. The rate and pattern of instrumental responding in free-operant situations are determined by the schedule of reinforcement. Seemingly trivial changes in a reinforcement schedule can produce profound changes in how frequently an organism responds and when it engages in one activity rather than another. Schedules of reinforcement also determine the persistence of instrumental behavior in extinction, when reinforcement is no longer available.
After extensive experience with a particular schedule of reinforcement, the rate and pattern of responding stabilizes. The results are conveniently represented in terms of a cumulative record. A cumulative record is a special kind of graph in which the horizontal axis represents the passage of time and the vertical axis represents the total or cumulative number of responses that have occurred up to a particular point in time.
In simple schedules of reinforcement, which occurrence of the response is reinforced depends either on the number of responses that have been performed since the last reinforcer or how much time has passed since the last reinforcer. If the frequency of responses is the critical factor determining reinforcement, the procedure is called a ratio schedule. If the timing of the response since the last reinforcer is the critical factor, the procedure is called an interval schedule. In either case, the participant cannot obtain reinforcement unless it responds.
Fixed-ratio schedule of reinforcement. In ratio schedules, the only thing that determines whether a response is reinforced is the number of responses the participant has performed since the last reinforcer. How much time it took to make those responses does not matter. There are basically two types of ratio schedules, fixed and variable. In a fixed-ratio schedule, the participant has to perform a fixed number of responses for each delivery of the reinforcer.
After each reinforcer the response rate is zero. The participant stops responding. This is called the postreinforcement pause. After the postreinforcement pause, a steady and high rate of responding occurs until the next delivery of the reinforcer. This is called the ratio run. Fixed-ratio schedules produce a break-run pattern of responding. Either the participant does not respond at all (in the postreinforcement pause) or it responds at a steady and high rate (in the ratio run). The duration of the postreinforcement pause is determined by the ratio requirement. As the ratio requirement is increased, the duration of the postreinforcement pause will increase.
A variable-ratio schedule is similar to a fixed ratio schedule in that the only factor that determines which repetition of the instrumental response is reinforced is the number of responses that have been performed. The difference between fixed- and variable-ratio schedules is that in a variable-ratio schedule the number of responses required varies from one reinforcer delivery to the next. Unlike fixed-ratio schedules, variable-ratio schedules produce a steady and high rate of responding, with no predictable pauses.
A key concept involved in analyses of the mechanisms of schedule effects is the feedback function that characterizes the schedule. Reinforcement of an instrumental response can be viewed as feedback for that response. Schedules of reinforcement determine how this feedback is arranged. One way to describe the arrangement is to show how the rate of reinforcement obtained is related to the rate of responding. This relationship is the feedback function.
Feedback functions for ratio schedules are perhaps the easiest to understand. In a ratio schedule, how soon (and how often) the organism gets reinforced is determined only by how rapidly it completes the required number of responses. The faster the organism responds, the faster it obtains the reinforcer.
Interval schedules have feedback functions that differ markedly from those of ratio schedules. Therefore, no matter how often or how rapidly the organism responds, the maximum number of reinforcers it can obtain is limited to 20/hour. As with ratio schedules, if the participant does not make any responses on an interval schedule it will not obtain any reinforcers. Increases in the rate of responding above zero will increase the chance of getting whatever reinforcers become available. Therefore, up to a point, increased responding is accompanied by higher rates of reinforcement. However, once the participant responds often enough to get all of the 20 reinforcers that can be obtained each hour, any further increase in response rate will have no further benefit. Thus, the feedback function for an interval schedule becomes flat once the maximum possible reinforcement rate has been achieved.
One of the striking facts about instrumental behavior is that ratio schedules produce considerably higher rates of responding than interval schedules, even if the rate of reinforcement is comparable in the two cases. Clues to explain why ratio schedules produce higher response rates may be gleaned from the feedback functions. Because the feedback function for an interval schedule reaches a maximum with a particular rate of responding, increases in response rate beyond that point provide no special benefit. Therefore, increases in response rate are not differentially reinforced beyond a particular point on interval schedules. In contrast, such a limit does not exist with ratio schedules. On ratio schedules, increases in response rate always result in higher rates of reinforcement. There is no limit to the differential reinforcement of higher rates of responding. Ratio schedules may produce higher rates of responding because such schedules differentially reinforce high response rates without limit.
In simple schedules of reinforcement, only one operant response is involved. The participant is allowed to repeat that response in the same situation, and the schedule determines which occurrence of the response is reinforced. In contrast, a chained schedule involves a sequence of responses. Each response constitutes a component of the chained schedule, and each response component has its own associated stimulus. The primary reinforcer is not provided until the participant has completed all of the components of the chain and has done so in the correct order.
Many activities can be analyzed as response chains: opening a can, doing your homework, or mowing the lawn. All of these cases involve a sequence of different activities, and each activity occurs in the presence of a different stimulus. If the response chain is made up of a sequence of different responses, it is called a heterogeneous chain.
Investigators have become convinced that a complete understanding of instrumental behavior requires understanding why organisms choose to engage in one response rather than another. Unfortunately, simple and chained schedules of reinforcement are not good for analyzing how choices are made. In simple and chained schedules, the alternative to the instrumental response, the "something else" the participant might do, is poorly specified and not measured. These shortcomings are remedied in concurrent schedules. Concurrent schedules of reinforcement provide clearly defined and measured alternative responses and thereby permit studying more directly why organisms elect to engage in one activity rather than another.
As you might suspect, whether you do one thing or another depends on the benefits you derive from each activity. In the terminology of conditioning, how often you engage in activity A as compared to activity B will depend on the schedule of reinforcement in effect for response A, compared with the schedule of reinforcement in effect for response B. On a playground, Joe could play with Peter, who likes to play vigorous physical games or Joe could play with Matt, who prefers to play quietly in the sand box. it Joe is not getting much enjoyment from playing with Peter, he can go play with Matt. Concurrent schedules are used to model this kind of situation in the laboratory. Because the two choices are available at the same time, the procedure is called a concurrent schedule.
Numerous factors determine how organisms distribute their behavior between two response alternatives. These include the nature of each type of response, the effort and time involved in switching from one response to the other, the attractiveness of the reinforcer provided for each response, and the schedule of reinforcement in effect for each response. Experiments have to be designed carefully so that the effects of each of these factors can be observed without being confounded with other features of the choice situation.
If similar effort is required for the response alternatives, if the same reinforcer is used for both responses, and if switching from one side to the other is fairly easy, the distribution of responses between the two alternatives will depend only on the schedule of reinforcement in effect for each response. The results of numerous experiments fit the Matching Law. According to the matching law, the relative rate of responding on a response alternative is equal to the relative rate of reinforcement obtained with that response alternative. For example, 70% of the responses will be made on the left side of a two-key chamber if 70% of all reinforcers are earned on the left side.
So far I have described what happens when instrumental behavior is reinforced periodically. An obvious related question is: What happens if the reinforcer is no longer provided? Once an instrumental response has been conditioned, does it persist if the reinforcer is no longer presented? Or do reinforcement procedures have to remain in effect to maintain conditioned responding?
The procedure of withholding the reinforcer for a previously conditioned instrumental response is called extinction. The participant is permitted to perform the instrumental response but the reinforcer is no longer presented. Organisms that have experienced instrumental conditioning continue responding for some time in extinction. However, the absence of reinforcement eventually results in a decline in behavior.
Investigators have focused on how various schedules of reinforcement influence the persistence of responding when extinction is introduced. Hundreds of experiments have been conducted to examine the effects of schedules of reinforcement on the persistence of instrumental behavior. Many of these studies have dealt with the partial reinforcement extinction effect.
The most important factor that determines the persistence of responding in extinction is whether the instrumental response was initially trained on a continuous reinforcement (CRF) schedule or a partial reinforcement (PRF) schedule. In a continuous reinforcement schedule, the participant is reinforced each time it makes the instrumental response. By contrast, in a partial reinforcement schedule, the participant is reinforced only some of the times that it performs the response. In general, partial or intermittent reinforcement produces much more persistence in responding in extinction than continuous reinforcement. This finding is known as the partial reinforcement extinction effect, or FREE.
The phenomenon may still be considered paradoxical, but it is not an anomaly. Rather, it is a common characteristic of instrumental behavior. Gamblers, aspiring actors, musicians, and research scientists are all on intermittent schedules of reinforcement, and all display considerable persistence in their behavior. They ardently pursue their goals even if they encounter a long string of failures or nonreinforcement.
The Theios and Jenkins experiment showed that persistence created by partial reinforcement training is not erased by subsequent continuous reinforcement. A person who has become a habitual gambler because of occasional successes (partial reinforcement) will not change his habits after of an unbroken string of wins (continuous reinforcement).
What is learned during the course of partial reinforcement that creates persistence in extinction? What does a writer learn from the occasional article that is accepted for publication that makes her keep writing in the face of repeated rejection notices? There are two major explanations, sequential theory and frustration theory.
Sequential theory was developed by E. J. Capaldi and is based on the idea that memories of prior reward and nonreward can be an important source of the stimuli organisms encounter when their instrumental behavior is reinforced. According to sequential theory, persistence in extinction occurs if the instrumental response has become conditioned to cues of the memory of nonreward. Nonrewarded trials do not occur during the course of continuous reinforcement training. Therefore, the instrumental response cannot become conditioned to the memory of nonreward on a CRF schedule. In contrast, nonrewarded trials inevitably occur during partial reinforcement training. Furthermore, some of these nonrewarded trials are followed by a rewarded trial. When such a transition occurs, the memory of nonreward can become associated with the instrumental response and produce persistence during extinction. According to sequential theory, differences in association of the instrumental response with the memory of nonreward during PRF versus CRF training are assumed to be responsible for the partial reinforcement extinction effect.
Unlike sequential theory, frustration theory, which was developed by A. Amsel, focuses on the emotional or frustrative effects of nonreward. The absence of reinforcement can be very upsetting. Consider, for example, losing money in a broken soft drink machine. We expect to get a soft drink when we put money in the machine and are therefore very annoyed if the machine malfunctions. As this example illustrates, nonreinforcement is especially upsetting when we anticipate being reinforced. Frustration theory considers persistence to be the result of learning to respond in the face of anticipated frustration. Such learning is produced by partial reinforcement training but not by continuous reinforcement. The nonreinforced trials that occur on a partial reinforcement schedule create the anticipation of frustration. Ordinarily, organisms are discouraged from responding when they anticipate being frustrated. But quitting does not make sense on a PRF schedule because if the organism quit responding it would miss the reinforcers that it could have obtained. The occasional reinforcement that is available on a partial reinforcement schedule teaches organisms to keep going in the face of anticipated frustration. Thus, PRF training creates persistence by teaching organisms to continue to respond when they anticipate being frustrated.
Schedules of reinforcement are also of interest because they determine the degree of response persistence that occurs in extinction, when reinforcement is no longer available. In general, partial or intermittent reinforcement leads to greater persistence in extinction than continuous reinforcement. Partial but not continuous reinforcement training promotes the learning of persistence mechanisms based on the memories and frustrative effects of nonreward.
A theory of reinforcement has to answer two questions about instrumental conditioning. The first question concerns the identity of reinforcers: What makes something a reinforcer, or how can we predict whether something will be an effective reinforcer? The second question concerns the mechanism of reinforcement effects: How does a reinforcer produce its effects, or how does a reinforcer produce an increase in the probability of the reinforced response?
According to Thorndike, a positive reinforcer is a stimulus that produces a "satisfying state of affairs." However, Thorndike did not go on to tell us why something was "satisfying." Therefore, his answer to our first question—"What makes something effective as a reinforcer?"—was not very illuminating. One can determine whether a stimulus, such as a pat on the head for a dog, is a "satisfier" by seeing whether the dog increases a response that results in getting patted on the head. However, such evidence does not reveal why a pat on the head is a reinforcer. By calling reinforcers "satisfiers," Thorndike provided a label for reinforcers, but he did not give us an explanation for what makes something effective as a reinforcer.
Thorndike was a bit more forthcoming on the second question—"How does a reinforcer produce an increase in the probability of the reinforced response?" His answer was provided in the Law of Effect. According to the Law of Effect, a reinforcer establishes an association or connection between the instrumental response R and the stimuli S in the presence of which the response is performed. The reinforcer produces an S- R association.
"What makes something effective as a reinforcer?" To answer this question, Hull made use of the concept of homeostasis that had been developed to explain the operation of physiological systems. According to a homeostatic model, organisms defend a stable state with respect to certain biologically critical factors. Consider, for example, food intake. For survival, organisms have to maintain a stable or optimal supply of nutrients. Food deprivation creates a challenge to the nutritional state of the organism. It creates a need for food. The psychological consequence of this is the motivational or drive state of hunger, which can be reduced by the ingestion of food. According to Hull, food is an effective reinforcer because it reduces the hunger drive. More generally, Hull proposed that what makes a stimulus reinforcing is its effectiveness in reducing a drive state. Hence, his theory is called the drive reduction theory of reinforcement.
Hull's drive reduction theory provides a successful account of reinforcers such as food and water. Stimuli that are effective in reducing a biological need without prior training are called primary reinforcers. However, if Hull's theory could only characterize reinforcers that reduce primary biological drives, it would be rather limited. Many effective reinforcers do not satisfy a biological drive or need. You may find the smell of Italian food reinforcing, but the smell of food does not reduce hunger. A $20 bill also does not reduce a biological drive or need but is a highly effective reinforcer.
Stimuli that become associated with a primary drive state are assumed to elicit a conditioned (or acquired) drive. Reduction of a conditioned or acquired drive is assumed to be reinforcing in the same manner as the reduction of a primary or biological drive state. The concept of conditioned or acquired drive has been used most extensively in the analysis of aversively motivated behavior. You can lose your balance and fall on a moving escalator. If the fall is severe enough, you will become afraid of escalators. Such conditioned fear is an example of a conditioned or acquired drive.
Sensory reinforcement. In many situations, sensory stimulation with no apparent relation to a biological need or drive state can serve as an effective reinforcer. Music, beautiful paintings, and other works of art are examples of sensory reinforcers for human beings. The growing weight of evidence of sensory reinforcement, along with the success of alternative conceptualizations of reinforcement, led to abandonment of Hull's drive reduction theory.
A food deprived rat in a Skinner box is much more likely to eat than it is to press the lever if it is given free access to both activities. Premack focused on this last difference and elevated it to a general principle. According to Premack, the critical precondition for reinforcement is not a drive state. Rather, it is the existence of two responses that differ in their likelihood of occurrence when the organism is given free access to both activities. Given two such responses, Premack proposed that the opportunity to perform the higher probability response will serve as a reinforcer for the lower probability response.
This general claim is known as the Premack principle. A more descriptive name for it is the differential probability principle. According to the differential probability principle, the specific nature of the instrumental and reinforcer responses does not matter. Neither of them has to involve eating or drinking, and the organism need not be hungry or thirsty. The only requirement is that one response be more likely than the other. Given such a differential response probability, the more likely response can serve as a reinforcer for the less likely response.
The Premack principle was important because it liberated psychologists from the grip of stimulus views of reinforcement and views of reinforcement rooted in biological needs and drives. In addition, the Premack principle provided a convenient tool for the application of instrumental conditioning procedures in a variety of educational settings, including homes, classrooms, psychiatric hospitals, centers for the mentally retarded, and correctional institutions.
In all educational settings, students are encouraged to learn and perform new responses. The goal is to get the students to do things that they did not do before and things they would not do without special encouragement. In other words, the goal is to increase the likelihood of low-probability responses... According to Premack, a reinforcer is any activity the participant is more likely to engage in than the instrumental response. Some students may like to watch television a lot; others may enjoy some time on the playground; still others may enjoy helping the teacher. Whatever the high-probability response may be, the Premack principle suggests that one can take advantage of it in encouraging the student to engage in a less likely behavior. All one has to do is to provide access to the high-probability response only if the student first performs the lower-probability behavior.
The Premack principle facilitated the application of instrumental conditioning to a variety of educational settings. It enabled teachers to use a variety of activities rather than food items as reinforcers, and it encouraged taking advantage of each student's unique set of preferred activities. In this way, training procedures could be tailor-made to fit a student's unique likes and dislikes.
The next major development in theories of reinforcement was the response deprivation hypothesis, proposed by Timberlake and Allison. The response deprivation hypothesis was designed to solve some of the theoretical problems that were left unresolved by the Premack principle.
Timberlake and Allison suggested that the critical difference between instrumental and reinforcer responses is that the participant has free access to the instrumental response but is restricted in performing the reinforcer response. In a typical Skinner box, for example, the rat can press the response lever any time, but it is not at liberty to eat pellets of food any time. Eating can occur only after the rat has pressed the lever, and even then the rat can only eat the small portion of food that is provided. Timberlake and Allison suggested that these restrictions on the reinforcer response are what makes eating an effective reinforcer. In their view, instrumental conditioning situations deprive the participant from free access to the reinforcer response. That is why the Timberlake-Allison proposal is called the response deprivation hypothesis.
The response deprivation hypothesis captures an important idea. The idea is obvious if one considers what would happen if there were no restriction on eating for a rat in a Skinner box. Imagine a situation in which the rat receives a week's supply of food each time it presses the response lever. According to Thorndike's Law of Effect, a week's worth of food should be a highly satisfying state of affairs; therefore, it should result in a strong S-R bond and should produce a large increase in lever-pressing. But that hardly seems sensible from the rat's point of view. A more sensible prediction is that if the rat received a week's supply of food for each lever-press, it would press the response lever about once a week, when its food supply was depleted.
According to the response deprivation hypothesis, what makes food an effective reinforcer is not that food satisfies hunger or that eating is a high probability response. Rather, the critical factor is that an instrumental conditioning procedure places a restriction on eating. It is this response deprivation that makes eating reinforcing. If the response deprivation is removed (by providing a week's supply of food), instrumental responding will not increase; the instrumental response will not be reinforced.
An interesting prediction of the response deprivation hypothesis is that even a low-probability response can be made into a reinforcing event. According to the response deprivation hypothesis, the opportunity to perform a low-probability response can be used to reinforce a higher probability behavior if access to the low probability response is restricted below its already low baseline rate. Such a prediction is contrary to the Premack principle but has been confirmed by experimental evidence.
In many ways the behavioral regulation approach is similar to the response deprivation hypothesis. Like its predecessor, the behavioral regulation approach rejects the assumption that reinforcers are special kinds of stimuli or special kinds of responses. In addition, the behavioral regulation approach accepts that reinforcement effects are determined by how an instrumental conditioning procedure restricts an organism's activities.
Behavioral homeostasis is analogous to physiological homeostasis in that both involve defending the optimal or preferred level of a system. Physiological homeostatic mechanisms exist to maintain physiological parameters (blood levels of oxygen and glucose, for example) close to an optimal or ideal level. The homeostatic level is "defended" in the sense that deviations from the target blood levels of oxygen or glucose trigger compensatory physiological mechanisms that return the systems to their respective homeostatic levels.
In behavioral regulation, what is defended is the organism's preferred distribution of activities, its behavioral bliss point. The behavioral bliss point refers to how an organism distributes its activities among available response options in the absence of procedural restrictions. The bliss point is the participant's preferred response choices before an instrumental conditioning procedure is imposed.
Requiring a child (Kim) to spend a minute on homework for every minute of music listening ties the two activities together in a special way. Now time spent on homework has to equal time spent on music. This is also called the schedule line. With the instrumental conditioning procedure in effect, studying is no longer independent of listening to music. The two activities are tied together and restricted to the schedule line.
Instrumental conditioning procedures constrain response options. They disrupt the free flow of behavior and interfere with how an organism selects among its available response alternatives. Furthermore, most cases are like Kim's in that the instrumental conditioning procedure does not allow the participant to return to the behavioral bliss point. The best that can be achieved is to approach the bliss point under the constraints of the instrumental conditioning procedure.
If doing school work is much more unpleasant for Kim than the potential loss of music listening time, then she will not increase her school work much but will give up time spent listening to music. In contrast, if the potential loss of music time is much more aversive for Kim than increased effort devoted to school work, she will adjust to the constraint imposed by the instrumental conditioning procedure by substantially increasing her time doing school work.
A particularly important factor determining how an individual responds to schedule constraints is the availability of substitutes for the reinforcer activity. Instrumental conditioning procedures are powerful if no substitutes are available for the reinforcer activity. However, if the participant has something that it can substitute for the reinforcer, restricting access to the reinforcer will not increase instrumental responding.
Behavioral regulation focuses attention on the fact that instrumental conditioning procedures do not operate in a behavioral vacuum. Rather, instrumental conditioning procedures disrupt the free flow of behavior; they disrupt how the participant allocates its behavior among available response options.
The behavioral regulation approach encourages us to think about instrumental behavior from a broader perspective than we did with previous conceptualizations. It encourages us to consider all of the activities of a participant, how those activities are organized, and how that organization determines the effects of schedule constraints. These ideas are a far cry from the more limited stimulus-response perspective that dominated earlier theories of reinforcement.
The response deprivation hypothesis. According to this hypothesis, the opportunity to perform a response will be an effective reinforcer if the instrumental conditioning procedure restricts access to that activity below its baseline rate. The response deprivation hypothesis shifted the focus of attention from reinforcers as special stimuli or responses to how an instrumental conditioning procedure constrains the organism's activities. This idea was developed further in the behavioral regulation approach.
According to the behavioral regulation approach, organisms have a preferred or optimal distribution of activities in any given situation. The introduction of an instrumental conditioning procedure disrupts this optimal response distribution or behavioral bliss point. Typically, the adjustment to the disruption is that the rate of the instrumental response increases whereas the rate of the reinforcer response decreases. The extent of this response reallocation is governed by the schedule of reinforcement imposed and the availability of substitutes for the reinforcer response.
Perhaps the simplest aversive control procedure is punishment. In a punishment procedure, an aversive event is delivered contingent on the performance of an instrumental response. The expected or typical outcome is suppression of the punished behavior. However, the degree of response suppression depends on numerous factors, many of which are not intuitively obvious.
Punishment is the most controversial topic in conditioning and learning. It conjures up visions of cruelty and abuse, and it is the only conditioning procedure whose application is regulated by law. However, punishment need not involve unusual forms of physical cruelty or pain. A variety of aversive events has been effectively used for punishment, including verbal reprimands, monetary fines, placement in a time-out corner or a time-out room, loss of earned privileges or positive reinforcers, demerits, various restitution procedures, and even water mist or a squirt of lemon juice in the mouth.
Requiring people to detect the punished response and administer the aversive stimulus can make punishment ineffective for a variety of reasons. One consequence of requiring a police officer to detect speeders is that drivers are not caught every time they exceed the speed limit. In fact, the chances of getting caught are pretty slim. A driver may exceed the speed limit 50 times or more undetected for each time his speed is recorded by a patrol officer. Thus, punishment is highly intermittent.
On the rare occasion that a driver is detected speeding, chances are that he is not detected right away but only after he has been going too fast for some time. Therefore, punishment is delayed after the initiation of the behavior targeted for punishment. Further delays in punishment occur because typically fines do not have to be paid right away. Fines also can be appealed, and an appeal may take several months.
If the appeal is unsuccessful, punishment for the first offense is likely to be fairly mild. The driver will probably just have to pay a fine. More severe penalties are imposed only if the driver is repeatedly ticketed for speeding. Thus, punishment is initially mild and is increased in severely only after repeated offenses. This kind of gradual escalation of the severity of punishment is a fundamental aspect of societal uses of punishment. Someone who does something undesirable is first given a warning and a second chance. We get serious about punishing him only after repeated offenses.
Another reason punishment is not effective in discouraging speeding is that drivers can often tell when they are about to be clocked by a patrol officer. In some cities, the location of radar check points is announced on the radio each morning. The presence of traffic police is also obvious from the distinctive markings of patrol cars. Many drivers have radar detectors in their cars that signal the presence of a radar patrol. Patrol cars and radar detectors provide discriminative stimuli for punishment. Thus, punishment is often signaled by a discriminative stimulus.
What are the critical differences in the punishment contingencies involved in driving too fast and playing with an electric outlet? First, punishment occurs consistently for sticking your fingers into an electric outlet. Every time you do that, you will get shocked. If you touch an outlet and come in contact with the electrodes, you are sure to get shocked. The physical configuration of the outlet guarantees that punishment is delivered every time.
Second, punishment is immediate. As soon as you make contact with the electrodes, you get shocked. There is no elaborate detection or decision process involved to delay delivery of the aversive stimulus. Third, punishment is intense for the first transgression. The outlet does not give you a warning the first time you touch the electrodes. The first offense is treated the same way as the tenth one. Each time you make the response, you get an intense shock.
Finally, punishment is not limited to times when a police officer or observer is watching. Thus, punishment is not signaled by a discriminative stimulus. No matter who is present in the room, sticking your fingers in the outlet will get you shocked. Severe and immediate punishment is always in effect for each occurrence of the target response.
Punishment is similar to positive reinforcement in that it involves a positive contingency between the instrumental response and the reinforcer. The reinforcer is delivered only if the organism previously performed the target response. The primary difference between punishment and positive reinforcement is that in punishment the reinforcer is an aversive stimulus.
Response-reinforcer contiguity is just as important with punishment as it is with positive reinforcement. Punishment is most effective if the aversive stimulus is presented without delay after the target response. If punishment is delayed after the target response, some suppression of behavior may occur. However, the response suppression will not be specific to the punished response.
More importantly, the effects of the intensity of punishment depend largely on the participant's prior experience with punishment. In general, individuals tend to respond to a new level of punishment similarly to how they responded during earlier encounters with punishment.
In a sense, exposure to mild aversive stimulation serves to immunize individuals against the effects of more intense punishment. Interestingly, a history of exposure to intense punishment can have just the opposite effect. Initial exposure to intense punishment can increase the impact of subsequent mild punishment. High-intensity aversive stimulation produces dramatic suppression of the punished response, and this severe suppression of responding persists when the intensity of the aversive stimulus is subsequently reduced. Thus, mild punishment produces much more severe suppression of behavior in individuals who previously received intense punishment than in individuals that were not punished previously. Exposure to intense punishment sensitizes the participant to subsequent mild aversive stimulation.
Discriminative control of a punished response can be problematic. A parent may try to get a child not to use foul language by punishing her whenever she curses. This may discourage the child from cursing in the presence of the parent but will not stop her from cursing around her friends. The suppression of foul language will be under discriminative control and the parent's goal will not be achieved.
Typically, punished responses are maintained by some form of positive reinforcement. This turns out to be very important because the effects of punishment depend on the type of reinforcement and schedule of reinforcement that supports the target response...The outcome of punishment procedures can be analyzed in terms of the relative costs and benefits of performing the target response. This cost-benefit analysis involves not only the punished response but also other activities the individual may perform. A powerful technique for increasing the effects of punishment is to provide positive reinforcement for some other behavior. Effective parents are well aware of this principle. Punishing children on a long car ride for quarreling among themselves is relatively ineffective if the children are not given much else to do. Punishment of quarreling is much more effective if it is accompanied by an alternative reinforced activity, such as listening to a story or playing with a new toy.
Paradoxical facilitation of responding can occur when punishment serves as a signal for positive reinforcement. Attention, for example, is a powerful source of reinforcement for children. A child may be ignored by his parents most of the time as long as he is not doing anything dangerous or disruptive. If he starts playing with matches, he is severely reprimanded and sent to his room. Will punishment suppress the target response in this case? Not likely. Notice that the child receives attention from his parents only after he does something bad and is being punished. Under these circumstances, punishment can become a signal for positive reinforcement, with the outcome that the child will seek out punishment as a way of obtaining attention.
Interpersonal interactions involving punishment require one individual to inflict pain on another. An important factor is the willingness of the person administering the punishment to hurt the recipient. A parent may claim to be punishing a child for having received a poor grade in school, and a husband may say that he is punishing his wife for getting home late. However, whether or not the punishment takes place is often related to the emotional state of the person who administers the punishment. People are likely to administer punishment if they are frustrated and angry, and under those circumstances, effective principles of punishment are probably farthest from their mind.
Another shortcoming of frustrative punishment is that it is rarely accompanied by positive reinforcement of alternative behavior. When a parent punishes a child out of irritability and anger, the parent is not likely to have the presence of mind to accompany the punishment with a programmatic effort to provide positive reinforcement for more constructive activities.
Punishment as an act of aggression and frustration violates many of the parameters of effective punishment and therefore does not produce constructive changes in behavior. Because punishment out of frustration is poorly related to the targeted behavior, frustrative punishment is abusive and cannot be justified as a systematic behavior modification procedure. To avoid administering punishment out of frustration, a reasonable rule of thumb is not to administer punishment on impulse.
A popular alternative to physical punishment in educational settings is the time-out procedure. In fact, many classrooms have a time-out chair where a student has to sit if he is being punished. In a time-out procedure, the consequence of making an undesired response is not a physically aversive event but time away from sources of positive reinforcement. A teenager who is "grounded" for a week for having taken the family car without permission is experiencing a form of the time out procedure. Time-out is also being used when a child is told "go to your room" as a form of punishment.
As with other instrumental conditioning procedures, the effectiveness of time-out depends on the delay between the target response and the timeout consequence. The effectiveness of the procedure also depends on how consistently it is applied. In addition, time-out involves some special considerations. To be effective, the procedure has to result in a substantial reduction in the rate of positive reinforcement.
Another alternative to abusive punishment is differential reinforcement of other behavior, or DRO. A DRO procedure involves a negative contingency between a target response and a reinforcer...In a DRO procedure, the negative contingency is between a target instrumental response and presentations of a reinforcing stimulus. Occurrence of the target response leads to the omission of the reinforcer. In a DRO procedure, the reinforcer is scheduled to be delivered periodically, every 30 sec, for example. Occurrence of the target response causes cancellation of these scheduled reinforcers for a specified period. Thus, the target response may result in reinforcement being cancelled for the next 20 sec. This serves to suppress the target response.
In a punishment procedure, an aversive stimulus is presented contingent on the instrumental response. Punishment is highly effective in suppressing the target response if it is administered without delay, at a high intensity from the beginning, and each time the target response is made. The effectiveness of punishment can be further increased by providing positive reinforcement for alternative activities. Initial exposure to mild punishment can result in learned resistance to the suppressive effects of more intense punishment, and signaling punishment can limit the response suppression to the presence of the signal. Punishment can cause a paradoxical increase in responding if it serves as a signal for positive reinforcement or is applied to escape behavior which is aversively motivated.