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Example research essay topic: Social Psychology Green Card - 2,031 words

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... information (M = 2. 33; SD = 1. 82) did not differ in their assessment of the communicator from participants who received the short version (M = 2. 53; SD = 1. 36), t (31) < 1, ns. In both conditions, the mean assessment of the communicator? s credibility was at the lower end of the scale which had the end points 1 and 9. Attitudes Towards the Green Card A single factorial ANOVA with the attitude scores at the first time of measurement as dependent variable reveals differences between the experimental conditions and the control condition, F (3, 64) = 2. 96, p <. 06.

As expected, participants were more likely to reject the implementation of the green card when they received the message without any information pertaining to the source as compared to participants who received no such message, t (64) = 1. 93, p <. 05. However, in contrast to our expectations, the same effect was found when participants who read a short (t (64) = 2. 62, p <. 05) or long description of the biased communicator, (t (64) = 1. 98, p <. 06) were compared with participants who received no message. The conditions with no author note, a short note, or a long note did not differ from each other as regards the attitudes towards the green card, ts (64) <. 1, ns. The mean values of the attitudes towards the green card are depicted in Table 1 for both measurement points. Table 1: Means and Standard Deviations (in parentheses) of Attitudes towards the Implementation of the Green Card Experimental Conditions No Message Message Only Message + Author Note (Short) Message + Author Note (Long) 1. Measurement 5. 87 a (1. 15) 4. 87 b (1. 15) 4. 51 b (1. 60) 4. 98 b (1. 99) 2.

Measurement 5. 34 a (1. 25) 4. 29 b (1. 43) 4. 94 ab (2. 21) Note: Means with different letters differ significantly at p <. 05. [ 44 ] [ 45 ] Six weeks after the first experimental session, the rejection of the green card was higher in participants who had read a short description of the biased communicator compared to participants in the non-factorial control group, t (64) = 2. 93, p <. 01. No difference was found between the non-factorial control group and the message only group, t (64) < 1, ns. This relative sleeper effect is also confirmed in an ANOVA with the point of measurement as dependent factor (immediately vs. after 6 weeks) and the author information (no information vs. short information) as independent factor, F (1, 28) = 3. 06, p <. 10 (F (1, 27) = 5. 56, p <. 05, after removal of one outlier with a suspicious data profile). There was a decay in attitude change for participants of the message-only condition, t (14) = 1. 66, p <. 07, one-tailed, but not for participants who had read a short author note, t (14) < 1, ns.

However, this interaction disappeared when, additionally, the condition with complex author information was considered, F (2, 45) = 1. 60, ns. Furthermore, we found no interaction when only participants were considered who had read a short or long author note, F (1, 31) < 1, ns. Thus, the hypothesis that complex author information leads to a diminished sleeper effect was not supported. DISCUSSION The present study provides two surprising results. First of all, we did not expect that the reception of arguments against the implementation of the green card in Germany would lead to an enhanced rejection of the green card even though participants were informed that the author of the arguments was closely linked to conservative parties. Furthermore, it seems amazing that a relative sleeper effect was found.

Six weeks after the reception of the arguments, in an ostensibly unrelated second experimental session, participants indicated more positive attitudes towards the green card when they had received no information about the author than when they had received a short author note. Thus, there was a stronger decay of the attitude change when participants had no source information as compared to when they were aware of the biased source. How can we explain these results? [ 45 ] [ 46 ] It is a well known phenomenon in persuasion research that source credibility has a diminished impact on attitudes when participants are motivated and capable of checking arguments deliberately (Chaiken 1980; Johnson and Scileppi 1969; Petty, Cacioppo, and Goldman 1981). Indeed, there are some reasons which lead us to assume that participants of the present study were motivated to scrutinize the arguments given.

First, participants may have felt a conflict between social norms or internalized standards of equality and activated negative affective evaluations (Gaertner and Dovidio 1986). To reduce this conflict, they may have scrutinized the given information extensively. Second, participants were explicitly asked to read the text carefully and, afterwards, to list three arguments provided by the author. A similar instruction was used in a study by Pratkanis et al. (1978). In that study a communicator effect failed to appear as well. In sum, it seems reasonable that participants in the present study reviewed the arguments elaborately and that, as a consequence, the arguments were more central to participants than the author bias.

However, it remains unclear why there is no effect from the complexity of communicator information. The results of Kruglanski and Thompson (1999) suggest that complex information has a greater impact on attitude change than simple information when individuals scrutinize the given information. Admittedly, it should be noted that Kruglanski and Thompson for the most part used messages with few and simple arguments. Thus, participants of these studies may have focused more on the author information than on the message, whereas participants of the present study may have paid more attention to the message itself. It seems to be an interesting question for future studies whether effects from the complexity of author information depend on the focus of attention. The main finding of the present study is the occurrence of a relative sleeper effect for participants who received a short description of the author.

For those participants, the article had an immediate and enduring persuasive effect even though they thought the communicator biased. In contrast, the impact of the message decreased over time for participants who received no information about the communicator. The consideration of the processes which lead to a persuasive impact of the message at the first time of measurement may help to explain the endurance of the attitude change. Possibly, participants made an intermediate judgment of the article before they read the author note, which was presented after reading. For participants who received a description of the author, the incongruence between their intermediate judgment and the knowledge that they were agreeing with a biased source may have led to a feeling of dissonance and mechanisms to reduce this feeling (Frey 1986; Frey and Wicklund 1978). It seems conceivable that such mechanisms accompanied a more extensive elaboration especially of arguments supporting the intermediate judgment, which resulted in a higher accessibility of the arguments six weeks later.

For participants who did not receive any information about the communicator, there was no need for the reduction of dissonance and for a further confirmation of the judgment. Thus, the decrease of the attitude change for participants without source information seems reasonable. [ 46 ] [ 47 ] In our view, the "differential decay" hypothesis of Pratkanis et al. (1998) does not offer a feasible explanation. Following this hypothesis, we should expect a more stable attitude change for participants who received simple in contrast to complex arguments. However, the complexity of the author note had no significant effect on the attitude towards the introduction of the green card in Germany either at the first measurement or the second. Since there was no difference between the message-only condition and the condition with a complex author note, we cannot make any inferences about the significance of the complexity of source information.

Future research would benefit from a more sophisticated analysis of the role of source information. For example, a replication of the present study with an additional variation of the message length would yield some more insights into the boundary conditions of communicator effects. In sum, the present study shows that long-lasting attitude change is possible even though a source is perceived as biased and that, under certain circumstances, such changes in attitudes may be more enduring than the mere reception of arguments without a reference to the source. Further experiments are necessary to test the specific explanations offered in the discussion section of the present paper. REFERENCES Chaiken, Shelly (1980). "Heuristic vs. systematic information processing and the use of source vs.

message cues in persuasion. " Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45: 524 - 537. Early, Alice H. , and Chaiken, Shelly. (1993). The psychology of attitudes. Fort Worth, TX: Hart court Brace Jovanovic h. Frey, Dieter (1986). "Recent research on selective exposure to information. " In Leonard Berkowitz (Ed. ), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 19, pp. 41 - 80). New York: Academic Press.

Frey, Dieter, and Wicklund, Robert A. (1978). "A clarification of selective exposure: The impact of choice. " Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 17: 621 - 626. Gaertner, Samuel L. , and Dovidio, John F. (1986). The aversive form of racism. In John F. Dovidio and Samuel L. Gaertner (Eds. ), Prejudice, discrimination, and racism (pp. 61 - 89).

New York: Academic Press. Gillig, Paulette M. , and Greenwald, Antony G. (1974). "Is it time to lay the sleeper effect to the rest?" Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 29: 132 - 139. [ 47 ] [ 48 ] Grade, Charles L. , Cook, Thomas D. , Hennig an, Karen M. , and Flay, Brian R. (1978). "Empirical test of the absolute Sleeper-Effect predicted from the discounting cue hypothesis. " Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36: 1061 - 1074. Hovland, Carl I. , Lumsdaine, Arthur A. , and Sheffield, Fred D. (1949). Experiments on mass communication. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Hovland, Carl I. , and Weiss, Walter (1951). "The influence of source credibility communication effectiveness. " Public Opinion Quarterly, 15: 635 - 650 Kruglanski, Arie W. , and Thompson, Erik P. (1999). "Persuasion by a single route: a view from the uni model. " Psychological Inquiry, 10: 182 - 193.

Kruglanski, Arie W. , Thompson, Erik P. , and Spiegel, S. (1999). "Separate or equal? Bimodal notions of persuasion and a single-process uni model." In Shelly Chaiken and Yaacov. Trope (Eds. ), Dual process theories in social psychology (pp. 293 - 313). New York: Guilford. Miller, N. , and Campbell, D.

T. (1959). "Recency and primacy in persuasion as a function of timing of speeches and measurements. " Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 59: 1 - 9. Petty, Richard E. , and Cacioppo, John T. (1986). "The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion. " In L. Berkowitz (Ed. ), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 19, pp. 123 - 205). New York: Academic Press.

Petty, Richard E. , Cacioppo, John T. , and Goldman, Rachel (1981). "Personal involvement as a determinant of argument-based persuasion. " Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41, 847 - 855. Pratkanis, Anthony R. , Greenwald, Anthony G. , Leippe, Michael R. , and Baumgardner, Michael H. (1988). "In search of reliable persuasion effects: III. The Sleeper-Effect is dead. Long live the Sleeper-Effect. " Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54: 203 - 218. [ 48 ] [ 49 ] AUTHORS' BIOGRAPHIES And Floral is assistant professor at the University of Munster, Germany.

His research interests include stereotyping, acculturation, intergroup relations, implicit information processing, and the context dependency of social judgments. His email address is. Ursula Piontkowski is professor of Social Psychology at the University of Munster, Germany. Her research interests include intergroup communication and intergroup relations, including intercultural relations and acculturation processes; social categorization and language; social interaction and conflict. Ina Knocks, Julia Rottmann, and Pia Thiemann are students at the University of Munster. [ 49 ] [ 50 ]

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