An experimental investigation of the influence of awareness of manipulatory intent on reactions to persuasive communications
Holz, Robert Franklin
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In recent years, investigators working in the area of persuasion and order effects in persuasive communications, have become increasingly concerned with the effects of numerous independent variables that might effect opinion change. Perhaps one of the most elusive of those variables is the audience's "awareness" of the communicator's intent to deliberately manipulate their opinions. The position of one of those investigators; C.I. Hovland, is that awareness of manipulatory intent should lead to rejection of the contents of a communication because most people do not want to admit that they can be manipulated. To test this position, an experimental setting was developed in which the relationship between the order of presentation of persuasive communications and the number of communications presented on opinion change might be investigated under such conditions of awareness of manipulatory intent. Awareness of manipulatory intent was defined operationally by the procedure of explicitly informing subjects that the purpose of the experiment was to change their opinions. Similarly, unawareness is defined by the procedure of not informing the subjects of the pupose of a persuasion attempt. To investigate the relationship between acceptance ana rejection of the contents of a single persuasive communication, and to determine possible order effects of opposed persuasive communications, under conditions of "awareness" and "no awareness", ten groups (A1 - A1O) were used, with awareness of manipulatory intent preceding exposure to either one or two-sided persuasive communications in A1 - A5, and unawareness preceding exposure to either one or two-sided persuasive communications in A6 - A1O [TRUNCATED].
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