A New Look at the Consequences of Attitude Certainty: The Amplification Hypothesis

Joshua J. Clarkson, Zakary L. Tormala*, Derek D. Rucker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations

Abstract

It is well established that increasing attitude certainty makes attitudes more resistant to attack and more predictive of behavior. This finding has been interpreted as indicating that attitude certainty crystallizes attitudes, making them more durable and impactful. The current research challenges this crystallization hypothesis and proposes an amplification hypothesis, which suggests that instead of invariably strengthening an attitude, attitude certainty amplifies the dominant effect of the attitude on thought, judgment, and behavior. In 3 experiments, the authors test these competing hypotheses by comparing the effects of attitude certainty manipulations on univalent versus ambivalent attitudes. Across experiments, it is demonstrated that increasing attitude certainty strengthens attitudes (e.g., increases their resistance to persuasion) when attitudes are univalent but weakens attitudes (e.g., decreases their resistance to persuasion) when attitudes are ambivalent. These results are consistent with the amplification hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)810-825
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume95
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2008

Keywords

  • ambivalence
  • attitude strength
  • attitudes
  • persuasion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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