Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Attitude Change and the National Drugs Campaign

Attitude Change and the National Drugs Campaign:
An exploration of the theories, models and persuasive paradigms.

Many factors determine the success of attitude change programs. Areas of initial attitude disruption, the message, the individual and persuasive techniques are explored through differing theories, models and research reports. The new Australian Government ‘Don’t let ice destroy you’ campaign has been chosen as a vehicle to highlighting and analysing important factors in attitude change program success. An integrational model is proposed, whereby the author theorises that the success of attitude change programs depends on the interaction of many theories, models, techniques and research reports. A concept map and a multitude of models complete this analysis.

An attitude is an individual’s evaluation of an object, message, issue or behaviour (Breckler, Olson, & Wiggins, 2006). This blog will highlight attitude change theories, models and research through analysing the areas of initial attitude disruption, the message, the individual, and persuasive techniques. The new Australian Government ‘Don’t let ice destroy you (ICE)’ (See Appendix C) attitude change program will be used to evidence, highlight and critique differing theories, models and research studies. Finally, this blog will propose an ‘Integrational model’ theorising that many interacting theories, models and techniques can provide a comprehensive attitude change program.

Don’t Let Ice Destroy You- Attitude Change Program.
The ICE campaign was launched on the 16th August 2007 in response to the illicit drug epidemic in Australia. An Australian Government research report (2003) highlighted that young people desired drug campaigns that were “Factual, balanced, non judgmental and delivered by experts with ‘real world’ drug knowledge”. The ICE campaign utilises this information, and effectively incorporates many models, theories and paradigms into its attitude change techniques.

Initial Attitude Disruption.

Research has shown by disrupting and creating discomfort in an initial attitude, change and openness to persuasion are more likely (Van-Overwall & Jordens, 2002).

Cognitive Dissonance Theory.
Cognitive dissonance theory, proposed by Festinger (1957), states awareness of inconsistencies in cognitions makes humans feel uncomfortable and unpleasant (Wood, 2000). Aaronson’s (1992) self concept dissonance theory furthered Festinger by asserting dissonance arises from inconsistent cognitions that threaten the competence, moral goodness and self integrity of ones self concept. Dissonance either results in rationalisation or motivation to change dissonant attitudes (Wood). The ICE campaign effectively utilises cognitive dissonance through the inconsistent cognitions of ‘drugs ruin lives’ and ‘I take drugs’; therefore leading to an attitude change. It also utilises Aaronson’s self concept dissonance theory by highlighting the effects of talking ice- moral goodness (ice tears families apart); and self integrity (ice users dig at their own skin; psychotic episodes). Cognitive dissonance theory is a powerful, underlying factor promoting attitude change as inconsistencies lead to discomfort, and thus change (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008).

The Message.
The information, cognitions about the message and method of message delivery influence the effectiveness of attitude change programs (Petty, Wegener, & Fabrigar, 1997). Various models and theories have been utilised by the ICE campaign to promote attitude change about illicit drug use.

Cognitive Response Theory.
Cognitive response theory (See Appendix D) assumes the effectiveness of a message in causing attitude change is determined by thoughts the message evokes (Breckler et al, 2006). Research has shown that a message inducing intellectual thoughts about the source and issue are more likely adopted by the audience (Cacioppo & Petty, 1985). Cognitive response theory asserts that a message containing strong arguments (providing compelling reasons for adopting the advocated position) elicits positive thoughts about the communicator, issue and message (Breckler et al.). The ICE campaign effectively highlights cognitive response theory in action; through strong dialogue, authoritative language and source, and a compelling issue and message.

Elaboration Likelihood Model.
The Elaboration Likelihood Model (See Appendix E) explains the process by which messages produce attitude change; through either a central or peripheral route. The ICE campaign utilises both routes. The central route relies upon careful analysis of information, a strong informative message and logical arguments (Michener & DeLamater, 1999). Research by Hosman, Huebner, and Siltanen (2002) highlighted that power of speech style and argument strength significantly impacted upon cognitive response, persuasion and attitude change. The ICE campaign effectively utilises central persuasive cues through strong narration, images reflecting the spoken message and informative language about the consequences of drugs. The peripheral route utilises non-cognitive, superficial cues: emotion, source and speed of speech (Vaughn & Hogg, 2005). The ICE campaign uses emotion (sadness- family abuse, disgust- arm sores, fear- legal implications); uses a trustworthy, expert source; and has a fast, knowledgeable pace. The use of both the long lasting central route, and easily persuasive peripheral route contribute to the success of attitude change campaigns (Scott, 1996).

The Yale Model of Persuasion.
The Yale model of persuasion (Janis & Hovland, 1959) explains that various message, source and audience factors are found to affect the extent to which people can be persuaded (See Appendix F). The Yale model details that message, source, and audience; through the process of attention, comprehension and acceptance; create opinion, perception, affect and action change (Vaughn & Hogg, 2005). The Yale model is a thorough summary of many attitude change components. The ICE campaign effectively explores all facets of the Yale model- the message, source, audience, process and outcomes.

The Individual.
The individual, both source and audience, can have an immediate effect on the success of attitude change programs (Wood, 2000).

The Source.
The source, the individual who delivers a message, can significantly impact upon the credibility, memory and respectability of a campaign. A credible source must have expertise, trustworthiness, powerful speech and fast dialogue (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008). Research by Hovland and Weiss (1951) detailed that highly credible sources produced more opinion change than did less credible sources. The ICE campaign uses a highly credible source (Director of Emergency Medicine) that is trustworthy and has a high level of expertise in the relevant subject area; indicating a greater likelihood of attitude change.

Research has also found that people who speak rapidly are more persuasive than people who speak slowly (Miller, Maruyama, Beaber, & Valone, 1976). In the ICE campaign, the narrator talks fluently, quickly and with conviction. This conveys the impression of knowledge and expertise.

The Audience.
Characteristics of the target audience are involved in the effectiveness of persuasion (Mirchener & Delamater, 1999). Research has found that women are persuaded more easily than men (Cooper, 1979; Eagly, 1978); and those with low self-esteem are more easily persuaded into attitude change (Hovland, Janis, & Kelley, 1953). It has also been concluded that age factors influence the success of attitude change programs; research by Krosnick and Alwin (1989) suggests a U relationship (See Appendix G), whereby young and old people are influenced most. The cultural background of the audience also assists in determining the success of attitude change programs. Research has found that individualist cultures (USA) prefer programs influencing personal benefits or personal goals; whereas collectivist cultures (Korea) advocate group cohesiveness and greater societal good (Breckler et al. 2006). The ICE campaign effectively utilises this knowledge appealing on both a personal level (physical harm, psychosis) and collectivist level (work productivity, family cohesion).

Persuasive Techniques.
Techniques of persuasion assist in determining the success of attitude change programs. Persuasive techniques include fear appeals, and persuasive paradigms.

Fear Appeals.
Many health promotion strategies are typically designed to elicit fear, yet are often ineffective in achieving desired attitude change (Job, 1988). Fear appeals elicit a feeling of fright or danger in an audience by creating stark warnings, publicising fearful outcomes or detailing explicit results (Breckler et al., 2006). Research has suggested fear appeals and attitude change have an inverted U shaped relationship (See Appendix H); attitude change lowest for no fear or intense fear, with most attitude change occurring for moderate appeals (Janis, 1967). Further research has shown fear appeals are persuasive if they do not petrify the audience with fear, if the audience is susceptible to the danger and the audience it informed how to avoid the danger (Rogers, 1983). The ICE campaign effectively utilises moderate fear: through explicit images, scenes and outcomes (family abuse, skin abnormalities, criminal behaviour); yet contains an overriding sense of choice, and room for positive attitude formation and change.

Persuasive Paradigms.
Many techniques of influence exist (Appendix I). The National Campaign Against Drugs effectively uses the technique ‘repetition with variation’, pursuing the same outcome in varied formats. The use of different ads for different drugs- Ice, Ecstacy, Marijuana, conveys the same message through varied formats and targeting different audiences. Research into repetition with variation shows that the use of different advertising methods leads to more positive attitudes and repetition of message with variation combats resistance to attitude change (Haugtvedt, Schumann, Schneier, & Warren, 1994). The ICE campaign also utilised the technique of ‘emotionally loaded words and images’ whereby emotional or striking words and images are used to create strong reactions, emotions and memorable effects. Research has shown this increases program awareness, recognition, memory and attitude change (Makosky, 1985).

Integrational Model.
A multitude of factors determine the success of attitude change programs. This blog hypothesises an ‘integrational model’ illustrating that an incorporation of attitude formation, message, source and persuasion techniques can determine the success of an attitude change program (Appendix J). Integreational theory suggests that attitude change program success relies on combining a multitude of persuasive techniques, models, theories and message and source characteristics.

In conclusion, many factors determine the success of attitude change programs (See Concept Map B) yet due to space restrictions, I have included what I believe are the most formative factors that determine program success including: attitude formation and disruption, the message, the source and persuasive paradigms (See Concept Map A). This blog has highlighted these factors through an analysis of theories, models and research evidence. It has also given a vast array of examples from the National Drugs Campaign to evidence each theory, model and paradigm. Attitude change is a complex construct, with a multitude of different socio-psychological factors.

Theory, Research, Written Expression and Online Engagement: See Self Assessment
1489 Words- Excluding References.


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Cacioppo, J.T., & Petty, R.E. (1985). Central and peripheral routes to persuasion: The role of message repetition. In L.F. Alwitt & A.A. Mitchell (Eds), Psychological processes and advertising effects (91-111). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

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Hosman, L.A., Huebner, T.M., & Siltanen, S.A. (2002). The impact of power-of-speech style, argument strength, and need for cognition on impression formation, cognitive responses, and persuasion. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 21, 361-379.

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James Neill said...

Note for marker: This essay was submitted on time - no late penalty.

Naomi said...

Official Essay Feedback

A thorough essay- highlighting theories, and pulling them together into one final model.

Covered relevant theories well. I liked the appendices with diagrammatic explanations of the theories. An excellent way of using the blog format.

Well researched essay. Linked the theories, attitude change program and research well. I liked the diagrammtic appendices with the u relationships between fear and attitude change and older and younger people and attitude change. Very creative way of showing the relationship.

Written Expression
Your essay was easy to read - a sign of a good essay. Excellent referencing as well.

Online Engagement
Lots of online engagement- well done.

ads1111 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ads1111 said...

Thanks... Probably never read this but you just helped me in A-level psychology!