Choosing persuasion targets: How expectations of qualitative change increase advocacy intentions

Christopher J. Bechler*, Zakary L. Tormala, Derek D. Rucker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Advocacy is a topic of increasing import in the attitudes literature, but researchers know little to nothing about how people (i.e., persuaders) choose their targets (i.e., the recipients of their advocacy). Four main experiments and six supplemental studies (total N = 3684) demonstrate that people prefer to direct persuasion efforts toward individuals who seem poised to shift their attitudes qualitatively (e.g., from negative to positive) rather than non-qualitatively (e.g., from positive to more positive). This preference stems from the fact that qualitative attitude change is perceived as greater in magnitude and expected to have a larger impact on behavior. These findings provide initial insight into the factors that drive persuasion target selection, and are inconsistent with what past persuasion research, conventional marketing wisdom, and our empirical evidence suggests persuaders should do. People tend to select persuasion targets they believe they can change qualitatively, but at least sometimes can have greater persuasive impact by targeting individuals who are already leaning in their direction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103911
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume86
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2020

Fingerprint

Persuasive Communication
persuasion
attitude change
Marketing
wisdom
import
marketing
recipient
Research Personnel
experiment
Research
evidence

Keywords

  • Advocacy
  • Attitude change
  • Persuasion
  • Qualitative change
  • Targeting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

@article{9793b23b6e28435a991f823c633e6292,
title = "Choosing persuasion targets: How expectations of qualitative change increase advocacy intentions",
abstract = "Advocacy is a topic of increasing import in the attitudes literature, but researchers know little to nothing about how people (i.e., persuaders) choose their targets (i.e., the recipients of their advocacy). Four main experiments and six supplemental studies (total N = 3684) demonstrate that people prefer to direct persuasion efforts toward individuals who seem poised to shift their attitudes qualitatively (e.g., from negative to positive) rather than non-qualitatively (e.g., from positive to more positive). This preference stems from the fact that qualitative attitude change is perceived as greater in magnitude and expected to have a larger impact on behavior. These findings provide initial insight into the factors that drive persuasion target selection, and are inconsistent with what past persuasion research, conventional marketing wisdom, and our empirical evidence suggests persuaders should do. People tend to select persuasion targets they believe they can change qualitatively, but at least sometimes can have greater persuasive impact by targeting individuals who are already leaning in their direction.",
keywords = "Advocacy, Attitude change, Persuasion, Qualitative change, Targeting",
author = "Bechler, {Christopher J.} and Tormala, {Zakary L.} and Rucker, {Derek D.}",
year = "2020",
month = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.jesp.2019.103911",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "86",
journal = "Journal of Experimental Social Psychology",
issn = "0022-1031",
publisher = "Academic Press Inc.",

}

Choosing persuasion targets : How expectations of qualitative change increase advocacy intentions. / Bechler, Christopher J.; Tormala, Zakary L.; Rucker, Derek D.

In: Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 86, 103911, 01.2020.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Choosing persuasion targets

T2 - How expectations of qualitative change increase advocacy intentions

AU - Bechler, Christopher J.

AU - Tormala, Zakary L.

AU - Rucker, Derek D.

PY - 2020/1

Y1 - 2020/1

N2 - Advocacy is a topic of increasing import in the attitudes literature, but researchers know little to nothing about how people (i.e., persuaders) choose their targets (i.e., the recipients of their advocacy). Four main experiments and six supplemental studies (total N = 3684) demonstrate that people prefer to direct persuasion efforts toward individuals who seem poised to shift their attitudes qualitatively (e.g., from negative to positive) rather than non-qualitatively (e.g., from positive to more positive). This preference stems from the fact that qualitative attitude change is perceived as greater in magnitude and expected to have a larger impact on behavior. These findings provide initial insight into the factors that drive persuasion target selection, and are inconsistent with what past persuasion research, conventional marketing wisdom, and our empirical evidence suggests persuaders should do. People tend to select persuasion targets they believe they can change qualitatively, but at least sometimes can have greater persuasive impact by targeting individuals who are already leaning in their direction.

AB - Advocacy is a topic of increasing import in the attitudes literature, but researchers know little to nothing about how people (i.e., persuaders) choose their targets (i.e., the recipients of their advocacy). Four main experiments and six supplemental studies (total N = 3684) demonstrate that people prefer to direct persuasion efforts toward individuals who seem poised to shift their attitudes qualitatively (e.g., from negative to positive) rather than non-qualitatively (e.g., from positive to more positive). This preference stems from the fact that qualitative attitude change is perceived as greater in magnitude and expected to have a larger impact on behavior. These findings provide initial insight into the factors that drive persuasion target selection, and are inconsistent with what past persuasion research, conventional marketing wisdom, and our empirical evidence suggests persuaders should do. People tend to select persuasion targets they believe they can change qualitatively, but at least sometimes can have greater persuasive impact by targeting individuals who are already leaning in their direction.

KW - Advocacy

KW - Attitude change

KW - Persuasion

KW - Qualitative change

KW - Targeting

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85074389148&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85074389148&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.jesp.2019.103911

DO - 10.1016/j.jesp.2019.103911

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:85074389148

VL - 86

JO - Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

JF - Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

SN - 0022-1031

M1 - 103911

ER -