Consumer Psychology and Attitude Change

Authors: Curtis P. Haugtvedt, Richard J. Shakarchi, Kaiya Lui (The Ohio State University) & Bendik M. Samuelsen (Norwegian School of Management)

Publication: Resistance and Persuasion. Ed. Eric S. Knowles & Jay A. Linn. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers

Year: 2004

Focus Area: Prevention, Consumer Behavior

Relevance: Understanding how best to change consumers’ perspectives on the risk of fraud and their own vulnerability is a significant challenge to fraud prevention.

Summary: The studies outlined in this chapter focus on the role of ‘elaboration’ (thinking about, considering, mentally expanding upon a message) as it influences persuasion and attitude change.  The goal is to facilitate attitudes that are resistant to future changes.

  • A statement that might inspire a negative reaction (e.g. “You have no choice!”) may also draw more attention and may thus be remembered by the consumer.  If the argument is invalid, then resistance will occur, but if the argument is strong, it is possible that reactance might be overcome by the increased attention and focus.
  • Priming certain kinds of information (e.g., a safe investment warning with a story about a fraud) may lead people to consider the message in greater depth, increasing the likelihood of persuasion.
  • Asking individuals to consider their own prior experience in a related situation or with a related product may similarly increase their mental elaboration on the topic.
  • Asking individuals to imagine the benefits of a given option (e.g., hanging up on a solicitor) before suggesting it outright may make that option more appealing.  They may be more likely to be persuaded, as the arguments have come from a trustworthy and appealing source — themselves.

Author Abstract: The extent to which and the processes by which individuals are influenced by print, radio, television, interpersonal conversations, and Web sites (as well as future integrated technologies) is a fascinating area of study. As the various chapters in this book illustrate, as social psychologists make progress in understanding the nature of resistance to attitude change, new and very interesting questions about persuasion processes in general are raised. While many factors may be associated with strong attitudes, the extent to which individuals elaborate on the content of an initial persuasive appeal has been shown to be an important moderator of the extent to which and the processes by which they might resist subsequent opposing persuasive messages (see Petty, Haugtvedt, & Smith, 1995).

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