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The Dual Process Theory

Social psychologists have been studying attitude change for quite some time and a number of useful theories have emerged: one of those is called the dual process theory.

Changing our minds about something

On characteristic of influence targets is: motivation. Motivation is a central element to the study of attitude change. How we go about changing our minds about something is crucial.

For example someone might have hated Apple computers, but over time they come to love them, or used to think that Latin poetry was boring and then come to admire its austere power.

Attitudes can change through different routes

So, social psychologists have been studying attitude change for quite some time and a number of useful theories have emerged: one of those is called dual process theory. As advanced by Richard Petty and John Cacioppo, this theory suggests that attitudes can change through either a central or peripheral route.

Center roots are deliberate and effortful and occur when someone thinks carefully about a topic. The process here is that people collect information deliberate and then decide their attitudes towards that topic. Referral roots occur outside of attention and awareness.

Changing minds via the peripheral route

Typically, people change their mind via peripheral route when something positive or negative is brought to mind while thinking about the topic. In the absence of attention the positive experience of snacking while learning something may increase your positivity towards it with.

For example, if you are paying close attention because I’m telling you all about my latest textbook, you might say great things about the book if I happen to be feeding you some fantastic snacks at the time.

Motivate people to pay attention

The study by Patty Cacioppo and her colleague David Schuman found that people’s attitudes after viewing an advertisement could not be predicted solely by argument strength, that’s the central route or by whether a famous endorser was used, that’s the peripheral route.

Had to consider whether people were motivated to pay attention. When people were made to believe that the information presented was personally relevant because they would be asked about it later the strength of the argument mattered.

Personal relevance matters

Because people were motivated and that condition they paid attention to the detail of the arguments. In this condition, having a famous endorser did not influence participants attitudes toward the advertised product.

But when people did not think the material was personally relevant to them because they were unlikely to have anything to do with what they were hearing, argument quality didn’t make a difference.

The quality of arguments

Attitudes were the same whether the arguments were strong or weak but famous endorsers did make a difference. In other words when people are really paying attention peripheral cues like endorsements make a big difference.

When people are paying attention, they pay close enough attention to the argument that matters because of its quality.