Causal inferences about communicators and their effect on opinion change

Alice H. Eagly*, Wendy Wood, Shelly Chaiken

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

391 Scopus citations

Abstract

An attribution analysis of opinion change viewed message persuasiveness as a function of inferred communicator biases. Recipients infer a knowledge bias (KB) by believing that a communicator's knowledge about external reality is nonveridical and a reporting bias (RB) by believing that a communicator's willingness to convey an accurate version of external reality is compromised. In an experiment with 355 undergraduates, KB expectancies were established by portraying a communicator as having a strong commitment to values represented by the probusiness or proenvironment side of a controversial issue and RB expectancies by portraying his audience as having a strong commitment to one or the other side. In all conditions, the communicator advocated the proenvironment position. Therefore, recipients' expectancies were confirmed in the context of a proenvironment communicator and/or audience and disconfirmed in the context of a probusiness communicator and/or audience. Regardless of the type of bias that Ss expected, they were more persuaded and rated the communicator as more unbiased when their expectancies were disconfirmed. Confirmation of expectancies based on RB, but not KB, was associated with inferences of communicator insincerity and manipulativeness. (21 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-435
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume36
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1978

Keywords

  • attribution analysis of opinion change, message persuasiveness as function of inferred communicator biases, college students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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