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Persuasion, Opinion Change Essay

1869 words - 8 pages

There is an abundance of research pertaining to how behaviors and opinions are changed; however, each discussion and experiment leads to further questions on how persuasion influences those changes. One such study performed by Rosenbaum & Franc (1960) looked at the impact of external commitment on pre-formed opinions, or prior attribution. In their experiment, the external commitment functioned as a persuasive measure in which the communicator relayed an opinion as the accepted standard attribution for a group of peers. Instances in which the participants’ prior attribution was incongruent with the attribution of the external commitment showed that the external commitment functioned as a ...view middle of the document...

The experiment implied that there were levels of effectiveness in forms of persuasion for behavior modification; however, the focus remained on changing opinions in relationship to the participants’ behavior. Along the same study lines, Siero and Doosje (1993) also looked at opinion change following persuasive communication; however, they connected their persuasion levels in relation to Social Judgment Theory (SJT) which identifies three types of opinions; acceptance, non-commitment, or rejection. In their study, Siero and Doosje (1993) modeled their persusion levels to align with the categories of SJT. They found that messages in the non-commitment range affected the greatest attitude change as they allowed the particpant to elaborate on their own.
The different ideas on structuring the form of persuasion from Rosenbaum and Franc (1960) and from Siero and Doosje (1993) influenced the structure of the current experiment in that the persuasive levels were designed to exclude a peer standard or behavioral commitment. Also, because many of these studies focus on behavior modification of the individuals being persuaded, the current study is interested in branching into a new focus by looking at the processes of changing an individual’s opinion about the observed behavior of another person. In order to better understand how individuals perceive behaviors in others, we have to consider a theory called Correspondence Bias. According to Gilbert and Malone (1995), “The correspondence bias is the tendency to draw inferences about a person's unique and enduring dispositions from behaviors that can be entirely explained by the situations in which they occur.” If this information is considered to be intrinsic to the formulation of opinions regarding the behavior of others, we can then observe how opinions might be changed when correspondence bias is manipulated by persuasion. Therefore, I hypothesize that a strongly persuasive explanation, attributing positive characteristics to the perpetrator of the observed behavior, will increase the observer’s opinion of the acceptability of the behavior; whereas weak persuasion will affect little to no change on the observer’s opinion of the acceptability of the behavior. By using five scenarios; three to establish a baseline value for the participant’s opinion, one to apply weak persuasion, and one to apply strong persuasion; we can measure the rate of change between the baseline value and each of the persuasion values to test this hypothesis.
Data were collected from 30 participants (21 female, 9 male) in the Rocklin and Roseville areas. Participants age ranged from 19-63 years old (M = 32.5 years). Participant volunteers were gathered from a convenience sampling of psychology students at Sierra College as well as other individuals in surrounding cities.
Participants were given a consent form to review and sign (see Appendix A). After the participants signed the consent forms, the...

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