The thus they are more likely to
The last moderator is valence (negative or positive).
It is proposed that negative attitudes tend to be more stable and resistant to change. People who hold negative attitudes, avoid the attitude object and as a result new experiences are unlikely to be formed. In contrast, people who hold positive attitudes are more willing to interact with the object and as a result new experiences, which can potentially change the already existing attitudes, can be formed (Bodenhausen & Gawroski, 2001). Dispositional characteristics of the attitude holder can also account for attitude stability. For example, personality traits such as dogmatism and individual need for closure are related to crystallized attitudes that are resistant to persuasion (Webster & Kruglanski, 1994). An additional moderator is the self- monitoring. High self-monitors are concerned of being acceptable and likeable thus they are more likely to change their evaluations and their attitudes in contrast to low self-monitors (Bodenhausen & Gawroski, 2001).
Furthermore, heritability, if the existence of a genetic component is acknowledged, renders attitudes stronger and more resistant to change (Olson, Vernon, Harris & Jang, 2001; Bourgeois, 2002).Theories of Attitude Change Even though moderators of attitude stability exist, in cases there is great likeability of attitude change. Different theories have been proposed for attitude change.
To begin with, consistency theories emphasize an individual’s preference of consonance between cognition, beliefs and behavior. According to Festinger’s cognitive dissonance theory (1957) in cases of inconsistence, individuals are motivated to restore congruency by modifying attitudes if external factors cannot justify the inconsistence sufficiently. However, if inconsistency can be justified adequately, the attitude remains stable. The balance theory proposed by Heider (1958) focuses on the relationships (positive or negative) formed between the perceiver, another person and an object that can form balanced or unbalanced states. As unbalanced states lack consistency and cause incongruence, the individual may attempt to restore balance by modifying attitudes towards either the other person or the object (Perloff, 2010). Functional theories suggest four functions of attitudes; utilitarian, knowledge acquisition, ego-defensive and value-expressive. In cases of discrepancy between attitude per se and function, attitude change is possible to occur, when the persuasion process taps to the underlying function each attitude serves.
However, in cases of congruence between attitude and function, the attitude becomes stronger and resistant to change (Wood, 2000). Learning theories suggest that learning can induce attitude change. Persuasion involves the learning of the advocated message, through a learning sequence consisting of comprehension, retention and acceptance of the arguments. However, learning is influenced not only by the individual’s attention but also by peripheral variables such as communicator’s characteristics or message structure. If these variables influence the abovementioned four key constructs, attitude change is likely to occur (Hovland, Janis and Kelly, 1953). According to the cognitive learning approach, attitude change requires a cognitive base. It is suggested that beliefs and attitudes are developed through reasoning via cognitive learning process.
As people gain information about an object, altered or new beliefs may be formed resulting in attitude change (Underwood, 2008).Information processing in PersuasionIn order to explain further the suggestions of these approaches two process-based models on persuasion have been proposed; the Heuristic-Systematic Model (HSM) and the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM).The HSM stipulates that persuasion can occur through two processes; the systematic, which entails careful examination of the advocated arguments, or the heuristic, through which an individual resorts in the use of mental shortcuts to evaluate the message without exerting cognitive effort. Variables such as motivation and ability determine the choice of each route. However, it is emphasized that even though in some conditions the heuristic or the systematic route is preferable, the individuals generally seek balance between systematic elaboration and use of mental shortcuts (Perloff, 2010).
The ELM purports the categorization of these processes into two routes; the central and the peripheral which occur within a continuum, extending from careful elaboration to no cognitive effort exerted in the consideration of the advocated arguments. Thus, elaboration refers to the careful cognitive scrutiny and likelihood to the possibility of the elaboration to occur. The central route requires motivation, which is influenced by variables such as ego-involvement, ego-relevance and preference, and cognitive ability (Perloff, 2010). The individual carefully elaborates the issue- relevant information and as a result positive or negative thoughts towards the advocated message are generated and linked to the individual’s pre-existing knowledge (Crosby, DiClemente & Kegler, 2002). If the generated thoughts induce confidence to the individual, they function as an attitude determinant and may result in attitude change (Petty, Brinol and Tomala, 2002). When the individual lacks motivation or ability to considerate carefully the arguments, follows the peripheral route. The individual focuses on irrelevant cues (e.
g., communicator’s appearance, images, background music), without exerting any cognitive effort to mentally modify the advocated message. By not evaluating the message on the basis of the arguments, resorts to the use of heuristics and mental shortcuts due to distraction, fatigue or indifference. While both routes may account for attitude change, the consequences vary.
Through the central route lasting attitude change may occur while, through the peripheral route the attitude change tends to be strong and short-term (Perloff, 2010).ConclusionAlthough some attitudes may be stable and resistant to change depending on the function they serve, the way they are formed and their extend of accessibility and valence, the extensive research form the 1950s and onwards argues that attitudes can be modified through the various persuasion processes that account for their malleability. In cases that an individual prefers to avoid cognitive dissonance and incongruence or to be socially integrated and acceptable, not only in cases of persuasion campaigns but also in cases of personal benefit, the change of some attitudes is preferable.