Research has shown that use of hand held mobile phones while driving can increase the risk of crash by up to 23 times (Vic Roads, 2009). In an attempt to curb the number of people taking such risks, TAC launched a campaign to bring awareness to the problem of distracted drivers, many of whom are distracted by hand held mobile phones, commonly used to talk or text while driving. Considering the statistics regarding the chance of crash when engaging in such activities and the prevalence of the problem, TAC has launched the campaign with hope of creating attitude change.
The TAC advert, witnessed by participants of this study, shows various situations of distracted drivers. Two situations of specific relevance to this study, talking on a hand held mobile and texting whilst driving. In all occasions the danger is present, in the final situation the danger is realised via the crash.
‘Attitude’ can be defined as a set of beliefs, feelings, behavioural tendencies and evaluations, that are mostly enduring, and are positive or negative in nature, regarding some person, group, object, issue, event or symbol (Vaughan and Hogg, 2011). This reveals the problematic nature of any attempt to use persuasion to force attitude change. While enduring, resilient attitudes are unlikely to be easily altered, it is not impossible to do so.
A dual process theory was proposed by Petty and Cacioppo (1981), the Elaboration Likelihood Model in which, attitude change can occur via two processes. The Elaboration Likelihood Model postulates two processing routes of persuasion, the Central Route, and the Peripheral Route. The former refers to more careful thought utilising more cognitive resources, while the latter, less motivated, less careful and fewer cognitive resources (Vaughan & Hogg, 2011).
EFFECTS OF CENTRAL AND PERIPHERAL PROCESSING
Petty & Brinol (2008) note that while attitude change can occur via either route, the consequences, as well as the processes of persuasion, differ. Central Route processing has been shown to be more enduring, resilient and accessible than its counterpart.
The Elaboration Likelihood Model highlights four key variables of a communication; the message, source, recipient and context. Any one or more of these variables may at any time influence or interact to create less or more favourable attitudes of an object.
Petty and Brinol (2008) propose, communication that produces a message, which is conforming to a persons current attitude, is more likely to result in acceptance of the message, than if the message is counter-attitudinal. That is, the individual will be biased towards the message that produces favourable thoughts, and therefore the message will be more readily accepted. However, attitude change can occur when a counter attitudinal message, induces Central Route processing and influences attitude (Petty & Brinol,...