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Methods of Public Influence

Persuasion/Resistance to change
Clarkson, J.J., Beck, J.T., Otto, A.S., & Dugan, R.G.
In F.R. Kardes, P.M. Herr, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Handbook of Research Methods in Consumer Psychology. New York: Routledge

Public influence reflects attitude change motivated by the need to attain social acceptance and occurs in the absence of corresponding change in private attitudes. It has been a topic of intrigue for decades to consumer psychologists due, in part, to the role of public influence in key phenomenon such as conformity, compliance, diffusion of responsibility, social roles, and persuasion. This chapter presents a detailed account of the dominant methodologies by which public influence has been studied. In particular, we explore the direct survey methods, situational manipulations, and dispositional variables that have been central to the study of public influence in consumer psychology. Additionally, we raise questions critical to the manner in which public influence is currently studied and speculate about new methodologies that address the reality of the evolving nature of public influence. Our hope is that this methodological review will not only serve as a reference for those interested in studying public influence but encourage future research to consider emerging methods to grow our understanding of public influence.

Circumventing resistance to novel information: Piquing curiosity through strategic information revelation.

Persuasion/Resistance to change
Wright, S., Clarkson, J.J., & Kardes, F.R.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 76, 81-87.

Individuals are repeatedly exposed to new information over time, yet adjustment is typically insufficient and people are generally unaffected by this type of exposure. To circumvent this resistance to novel information, the current research posits that the mere timing by which the same information is differentially-revealed can prompt re-evaluation by heightening individuals’ curiosity in the new information. Three experiments show that strategically-revealing new information promotes re-evaluation by increasing curiosity in the new information. Importantly, the effect of curiosity on the re-evaluation process occurs irrespective of the valence of the new information yet only when the revealed information is diagnostic. Collectively, these results provide a unique lens into the impact of curiosity in circumventing resistance to novel information and, consequently, a novel catalyst for future research on judgement updating, resistance to persuasion, and omission neglect.

Facilitating emotional regulation: The interactive impact of resource availability and reward processing

Roberts, M.R., Clarkson, J.J., Cummings, E.L.T., & Ragsdale, C.M.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Despite a wealth of knowledge on the importance of resource availability and reward processing for emotional regulation, surprisingly little is known about the extent to which these two mechanisms interact. Indeed, while research largely supports a positive association between reward processing and recovering from a negative emotional experience, the research does not make a clear prediction regarding the effect of resource availability on this relationship. In two experiments, we explored the extent to which resource availability impacts the efficacy of reward processing to reduce the aversive emotional experience of anxiety. We manipulated participants’ mental resource availability, induced anxiety, and varied exposure to either a rewarding or non-rewarding stimulus. The findings consistently demonstrate an interaction between resource availability and reward processing; specifically, the combination of high resource availability and reward processing facilitated the greatest levels of anxiety reduction. Moreover, this interaction was shown to amplify with the intensity of participants’ exposure to the reward stimulus. We discuss the practical contributions of these findings and their generative nature for further clarifying the processes underlying emotional regulation.

The malleable efficacy of willpower theories

Clarkson, J.J., Otto, A.S., Hirt, E.R., & Egan, P.M.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 42 (2016), 1490-1504.

Emerging research documents the self-control consequences of individuals’ theories regarding the limited nature of willpower, such that unlimited theorists consistently demonstrate greater self-control than limited theorists. The purpose of the present research was to build upon prior work on self-validation and perceptions of mental fatigue to demonstrate when self-control is actually impaired by endorsing an unlimited theory and—conversely—enhanced by endorsing a limited theory. Four experiments show that fluency reinforces the documented effects of individuals’ willpower theories on self-control, while disfluency reverses the documented effects of individuals’ willpower theories on self-control. Moreover, these effects are driven by differential perceptions of mental fatigue—perceptions altered by individuals’ level of confidence in their willpower theory—and are bound by conditions that promote effortful thought. Collectively, these findings point to the malleable efficacy of willpower theories and the importance of belief confidence in dictating this malleability and in modulating subsequent self-control behavior.

Group identification as a means of attitude restoration

Persuasion/Resistance to change
Clarkson, J.J., Smith, E.R., Tormala, Z.L., & Dugan, R.D
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 68, 139-145.

This paper investigates the possibility that individuals selectively identify with groups as a means of restoring certainty in their attitudes. Specifically, we contend that (i) groups offer social validation in the form of attitudinal norms, (ii) individuals heighten their identification with groups that offer norms that are consistent with attitudes that have been undermined, and (iii) access to these norms reduces attitude uncertainty. Two experiments support this hypothesis by demonstrating greater identification following a loss of attitude certainty, though only with groups offering relevant attitudinal norms. Moreover, this identification is subsequently shown to promote attitude restoration in the form of increased certainty. Consequently, groups serve an important role in attitude restoration by protecting attitudes against uncertainty when a relevant group is available to bolster the attitude.

The effect of an interprofessional heart failure education program on hospital readmissions.

Clarkson, J.N., Schaffer, S.D., & Clarkson, J.J. (forthcoming)
Journal for Healthcare Quality.

Heart failure is an increasing concern to public health, affecting approximately 5.1 million Americans and costing the United States over $32 billion annually. Compounding the concern, recent research into the quality and efficiency of healthcare has exposed a significant problem of hospital readmissions for the heart failure population, with an estimated 25% of heart failure patients rehospitalized within 30 days of discharge.  This project focuses on an education-based strategy designed to decrease hospital readmissions for this at-risk population.  In particular, an interprofessional outpatient educational program (Heart Failure University) was initiated in 2013 to reduce healthcare costs and increase the quality of care for heart failure patients at a large private hospital in Northeast Florida.  A retrospective case control study was conducted to compare 30-day hospital readmissions of patients who attended Heart Failure University to patients who received standard education.  Results indicated a significant association between Heart Failure University attendance and reduced 30-day hospital readmissions for heart failure patients.  These findings corroborate with current research on transitional care interventions and emphasize the importance of interprofessional, educational-based disease management programs for the heart failure population.

Decision sidestepping: How the motivation for closure prompts individuals to bypass decision making.

Judgment/Decision Making
Otto, A.S., Clarkson, J.J., & Kardes, F.R. (forthcoming)
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

We all too often have to make decisions—from the mundane (e.g., what to eat for breakfast) to the complex (e.g., what to buy a loved one)—and yet there exists a multitude of strategies that allows us to make a decision. This work focuses on a subset of decision strategies that allows individuals to make decisions by bypassing the decision-making process—a phenomenon we term decision sidestepping. Critical to the present manuscript, however, we contend that decision sidestepping stems from the motivation to achieve closure. We link this proposition back to the fundamental nature of closure and how those seeking closure are highly bothered by decision making. As such, we argue that the motivation to achieve closure prompts a reliance on sidestepping strategies (e.g., default bias, choice delegation, status quo bias, inaction inertia, option fixation) to reduce the bothersome nature of decision making. In support of this framework, five experiments demonstrate that (a) those seeking closure are more likely to engage in decision sidestepping, (b) the effect of closure on sidestepping stems from the bothersome nature of decision making, and (c) the reliance on sidestepping results in downstream consequences for subsequent choice. Taken together, these findings offer unique insight into the cognitive motivations stimulating a reliance on decision sidestepping and thus a novel framework by which to understand how individuals make decisions while bypassing the decision-making process.

Perceived mental fatigue and self- control.

Clarkson, J.J. Otto, A.S., Hassey, R.V., & Hirt, E.R. (2016)
In E.R. Hirt, J.J. Clarkson, & L. Jia (Eds.), Self-Regulation and Ego Control. San Diego, CA: Elselvier.

The purpose of this chapter is to outline the empirical work to date regarding the importance of individuals’ subjective perceptions of mental fatigue for self-control. We first review existing research on the causal link between perceptions of mental fatigue and self-control. Next, we discuss factors shown to impact or alter individuals’ perceptions of mental fatigue. We then present a meta-analysis to provide insight into the general impact of perceived mental fatigue on self-control. Finally, we speak to the implications of this research for the manner in which self-control is conceptualized within a limited resource model specifically as well as models of self-control more broadly.

Self-Regulation and Ego Control

E.R. Hirt, J.J. Clarkson, & L. Jia (Eds.)
San Diego, CA: Elselvier.

On incidental catalysts of elaboration: Reminders of environmental structure promote effortful thought.

Persuasion/Resistance to change
Ryan Rahinel, Nelson Borges Amaral, Joshua J. Clarkson, Aaron C. Kay
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 64 (2016) 1–7

Life is filled with situations in which cognitive elaboration can powerfully sway outcomes, and yet our understanding of the contextual factors that impact elaboration are greatly limited to those entwined with the focal evaluation, judgment, or decision. In response, this research tests whether a more fundamental, incidental feature of the environment—structure—might influence the extent to which individuals engage in elaboration.

Three studies demonstrate that incidental reminders of structure increase elaboration (Experiment 1), which in turn impacts individuals’ confidence in their choice (Experiment 2) as well as the choice itself (Experiment 3). Collectively, the findings offer novel insight into the role of structure in promoting elaboration, and suggest that structure-seeking may be functional in part because it leads to more thoughtful, considered judgments and decisions.

Resisting persuasion by the skin of one's teeth: The hidden success of resisted persuasive messages.

Attitude structure/strength
Tormala, Z.L., Clarkson, J.J., & Petty, R.E.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 423-435 (2006)

Recent research has suggested that when people resist persuasion they can perceive this resistance and, under specifiable conditions, become more certain of their initial attitudes (e.g., Z. L. Tormala & R. E. Petty, 2002). Within the same metacognitive framework, the present research provides evidence for the opposite phenomenon—that is, when people resist persuasion, they sometimes become less certain of their initial attitudes. Four experiments demonstrate that when people perceive that they have done a poor job resisting persuasion (e.g., they believe they generated weak arguments against a persuasive message), they lose attitude certainty, show reduced attitude– behavioral intention correspondence, and become more vulnerable to subsequent persuasive attacks. These findings suggest that resisted persuasive attacks can sometimes have a hidden yet important success by reducing the strength of the target attitude.

Assimilation and contrast in persuasion: The effects of source credibility in multiple message situations.

Persuasion/Resistance to change
Tormala, Z.L., & Clarkson, J.J.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 560-571 (2007)

The present research explores a contextual perspective on persuasion in multiple message situations. It is proposed that when people receive persuasive messages, the effects of those messages are influenced by other messages to which people recently have been exposed. In two experiments, participants received a target persuasive message from a moderately credible source. Immediately before this message, participants received another message, on a different topic, from a source with high or low credibility. In Experiment 1, participants’ attitudes toward the target issue were more favorable after they had first been exposed to a different message from a low rather than high credibility source (contrast). In Experiment 2, this effect only emerged when a priming manipulation gave participants a dissimilarity mindset. When participants were primed with a similarity mindset, their attitudes toward the target issue were more favorable following a different message from a high rather than low credibility source (assimilation).

Source trustworthiness and information processing in multiple persuasive message situations: A contextual analysis.

Persuasion/Resistance to change
Tormala, Z.L., & Clarkson, J.J.
Social Cognition, 26, 357-367 (2008)

This research explores the possibility that when people receive sequential persuasive messages about different issues, the trustworthiness of the source of an early (prior) message can influence people’s motivation to process a subsequent (target) message. Participants were presented with a target persuasive message from a source of ambiguous trustworthiness. Preceding this message, participants received a message about a different issue from a source unambiguously high or low in trustworthiness. When primed to focus on similarities, participants showed greater processing of the target message when the prior source was low rather than high in trustworthiness (assimilation). When primed to focus on dissimilarities, participants showed the opposite effect (contrast). As expected, however, these effects were particularly likely to manifest for low need for cognition individuals, who are not otherwise inclined to engage in extensive processing. High need for cognition individuals engaged in extensive processing regardless of the prime and prior source manipulations.

A new look at the consequences of attitude certainty: The amplification hypothesis.

Attitude structure/strength
Clarkson, J.J., Tormala, Z.L., & Rucker, D.D.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 810-825 (2008)

It is well established that increasing attitude certainty makes attitudes more resistant to attack and more predictive of behavior. This finding has been interpreted as indicating that attitude certainty crystallizes attitudes, making them more durable and impactful. The current research challenges this crystallization hypothesis and proposes an amplification hypothesis, which suggests that instead of invariably strengthening an attitude, attitude certainty amplifies the dominant effect of the attitude on thought, judgment, and behavior. In 3 experiments, the authors test these competing hypotheses by comparing the effects of attitude certainty manipulations on univalent versus ambivalent attitudes. Across experiments, it is demonstrated that increasing attitude certainty strengthens attitudes (e.g., increases their resistance to persuasion) when attitudes are univalent but weakens attitudes (e.g., decreases their resistance to persuasion) when attitudes are ambivalent. These results are consistent with the amplification hypothesis.

Beyond attitude consensus: The social context of persuasion and resistance.

Attitude structure/strength
Tormala, Z.L., DeSensi, V.D., Clarkson, J.J., & Rucker, D.D.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 149-154 (2009)

The current research presents a new type of social context effect on attitude certainty. It is proposed that when people receive persuasive messages, they appraise their attitudes not only in terms of whether they are shared or not shared by others, but also in terms of whether they are based on similar or dissimilar assessments of the information presented. In two experiments, participants were presented with persuasive messages. In Experiment 1, they were induced to perceive that they responded favorably (persuasion) or unfavorably (resistance) to the message arguments. In Experiment 2, they were allowed to vary in their actual message responses. In both experiments, message response similarity—the degree to which people perceived that their evaluations of persuasive arguments were shared or unshared by others—moderated the classic effect of attitude similarity on attitude certainty. In particular, attitude similarity only affected attitude certainty under conditions of message response similarity. When message responses were believed to be dissimilar, attitude similarity had no effect on attitude certainty.

Does attitude certainty beget self-certainty?

Attitude structure/strength
Clarkson, J.J., Tormala, Z.L., DeSensi, V.D., & Wheeler, S.C.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 436-439 (2009)

This research explores the possibility that changes in attitude certainty can affect general self-certainty and, thus, have consequences that extend beyond the attitude domain. Across two studies, attitude certainty is manipulated using repeated attitude expression and attitude consensus paradigms. The implications of these manipulations are tested for feelings of general self-uncertainty (Study 1) and global selfdoubt about one’s abilities (Study 2). In each study, it is demonstrated that participants feel greater selfcertainty under conditions of high rather than low attitude certainty, but only when they view aspects of the attitude as central to their self-concept.

When perception is more than reality: The effect of perceived versus actual resource depletion on self-regulatory behavior.

Clarkson, J.J., Hirt, E.R., Jia, L., & Alexander, M.B.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98, 29-46 (2010)

Considerable research demonstrates that the depletion of self-regulatory resources impairs performance on subsequent tasks that demand these resources. The current research sought to assess the impact of perceived resource depletion on subsequent task performance at both high and low levels of actual depletion. The authors manipulated perceived resource depletion by having participants 1st complete a depleting or nondepleting task before being presented with feedback that did or did not provide a situational attribution for their internal state. Participants then persisted at a problem-solving task (Experiments 1–2), completed an attention-regulation task (Experiment 3), or responded to a persuasive message (Experiment 4). The findings consistently demonstrated that individuals who perceived themselves as less (vs. more) depleted, whether high or low in actual depletion, were more successful at subsequent self-regulation. Thus, perceived regulatory depletion can impact subsequent task performance—and this impact can be independent of one’s actual state of depletion.

The effect of regulatory depletion on attitude certainty

Attitude structure/strength
Wan, E.W., Rucker, D.D., Tormala, Z.L., & Clarkson, J.J.
Journal of Marketing Research, 47, 531-541 (2010)

his research explores how regulatory depletion affects consumers’ responses to advertising. Initial forays into this area suggest that the depletion of self-regulatory resources is irrelevant when advertisement arguments are strong or consumers are highly motivated to process. In contrast to these conclusions, the authors contend that depletion has important but previously hidden effects in such contexts. That is, although attitudes are equivalent in valence and extremity, consumers are more certain of their attitudes when they form them under conditions of depletion than nondepletion. The authors propose that this effect occurs because feeling depleted induces the perception of having engaged in thorough information processing. As a consequence of greater attitude certainty, depleted consumers’ attitudes exert greater influence on their purchase behavior. Three experiments, using different products and ad exposure times, confirm these hypotheses. Experiment 3 demonstrates the potential to vary consumers’ naive beliefs about the relationship between depletion and thoroughness of processing, and this variation moderates the effect of depletion on attitude certainty. The authors discuss the theoretical contributions and implications for marketing.

Perceiving stability as a means to attitude certainty: The role of implicit theories of attitudes.

Attitude structure/strength
Petrocelli, J.V., Clarkson, J.J., Tormala, Z.L., & Hendrix, K.S.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 874-883. (2010)

This research introduces the concept of implicit theories of attitude stability. Across three studies, individuals are shown to vary both naturally and situationally in their lay theories about the stability of attitudes. Furthermore, these general theories are shown to impact people’s certainty in their specific attitudes by shaping their perceptions of the stability of the attitude under consideration. By affecting attitude certainty, implicit theories of attitude stability also influence the extent to which people rely on their attitude when committing to future attitude-relevant behavior. Moreover, following exposure to a persuasive attack, implicit theories are shown to interact with situational perceptions of attitude stability to determine attitude certainty. Collectively, these findings suggest that implicit theories of attitude stability have an important influence on people’s attitude certainty, subsequent behavioral intentions, and resistance to persuasive messages. Future directions concerning the potential impact of these theories for other attitudinal phenomena are discussed.

The psychology of fandom: Understanding the etiology, motives, and implications of fanship.

Hirt, E.R., & Clarkson, J.J.
In L.R. Kahle & A. Close (Eds.), Consumer Behavior Knowledge for Effective Sports Marketing (pp. 59-85). New York: Routledge. (2010)

Time and again, we hear stories of and even witness firsthand the phenomenon of fandom. We know of those whose emotions rise and fall with their team‘s performance. We know of those who forgo clothing in cold weather, withstand monsoon rains, and simmer in the summertime heat for their teams. We know of those competing in multiple fantasy leagues and following their team‘s every move in cyberspace with faithful devotion. We also know of those who live their lives uninformed and unaware to the world of sports around them and yet still find their way into stadiums worldwide. These examples illustrate only a sample of the diverse yet complex range of behaviors exhibited by those we choose to label fans. For the most part, these complexities represent mere peculiarities that add intrigue to the experience of sports. For others, such as ourselves, these complexities spark fundamental questions about the psychological motives underlying fandom—and the market strategies intended to satisfy them.

A self-validation perspective on the mere thought effect.

Persuasion/Resistance to change
Clarkson, J.J., Tormala, Z.L., & Leone, C.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 449-454. (2011)

Self-generated thought has an important impact on attitude change, with repeated demonstrations of increased opportunity for thought about an attitude object increasing attitude extremity. The traditional explanation for this mere thought effect is that more time to think allows people to produce more attitudeconsistent thoughts, which polarize their attitudes. Expanding on this structural perspective, the current research explores a metacognitive account for the effect of time on attitude polarization. Three experiments demonstrate that thought confidence plays an independent mediating role in the mere thought effect (Experiment 1), that it accounts for reversals in the mere thought effect when people have too much time to think (Experiment 2), and that this reversal is tied to the difficulty people have retrieving thoughts when too much time is provided (Experiment 3). Thus, taking metacognitive features of thought into account sheds new light on self-persuasion in the mere thought paradigm.

The impact of illusory fatigue on executive control: Do perceptions of depletion impair working memory capacity?

Clarkson, J.J., Hirt, E.R., Chapman, D.A., & Jia, L.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2, 229-238. (2011)

The human mind is quite adept at modifying and regulating thoughts, judgments, and behaviors. Recent research has demonstrated that depletion of self-regulatory resources can impair executive function through restriction of working memory capacity. The current work explored whether the mere perception of resource depletion (i.e., illusory fatigue) is sufficient to directly produce these deficits in executive control. To manipulate illusory fatigue, participants were exposed to a depleting or nondepleting task before being presented with false feedback about the effects of the initial task on their state of resource depletion. Participants then completed a well-established index of working memory capacity. Findings revealed that individuals provided with feedback that led to perceptions of low depletion exhibited greater working memory capacity. This effect was independent of individuals’ actual state of depletion and was furthermore mediated by their perceived level of depletion. Implications for spontaneous resource replenishment are discussed.

Does fast or slow evaluation foster greater certainty?

Attitude structure/strength
Tormala, Z.L., Clarkson, J.J., & Henderson, M.D.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 422-434. (2011)

This research investigates the effect of perceived evaluation duration—that is, the perceived time or speed with which one generates an evaluation—on attitude certainty. Integrating diverse findings from past research, the authors propose that perceiving either fast or slow evaluation can augment attitude certainty depending on specifiable factors. Across three studies, it is shown that when people express opinions, evaluate familiar objects, or typically trust their gut reactions, perceiving fast rather than slow evaluation generally promotes greater certainty. In contrast, when people form opinions, evaluate unfamiliar objects, or typically trust more thoughtful responses, perceiving slow rather than fast evaluation generally promotes greater certainty. Mediation analyses reveal that these effects stem from trade-offs between perceived rational thought and the perceived ease of retrieving an attitude. Implications for research on deliberative versus intuitive decision making are discussed.

Cognitive and affective matching effects in persuasion: An amplification perspective.

Attitude structure/strength
Clarkson, J.J., Tormala, Z.L., & Rucker, D.D.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 1415-1427. (2011)

Past research suggests that cognitive and affective attitudes are more open to change toward cognitive and affective (i.e., matched) persuasive attacks, respectively. The present research investigates how attitude certainty influences this openness. Although an extensive literature suggests that certainty generally reduces an attitude’s openness to change, the authors explore the possibility that certainty might increase an attitude’s openness to change in the context of affective or cognitive appeals. Based on the recently proposed amplification hypothesis, the authors posit that high (vs. low) attitude certainty will boost the resistance of attitudes to mismatched attacks (e.g., affective attitudes attacked by cognitive messages) but boost the openness of attitudes to matched attacks (e.g., affective attitudes attacked by affective messages). Two experiments provide support for this hypothesis. Implications for increasing the openness of attitudes to both matched and mismatched attacks are discussed.

The desire for consumption knowledge.

Clarkson, J.J., Janiszewski, C., & Minor, M.D.
Journal of Consumer Research, 39(6), 1313-29. (2013)

Are consumers motivated to seek out experiences that enhance their appreciation within a product category—and if so, does their level of experiential expertise (or consumption knowledge) within a product category bias the types of experiences they value and pursue? These questions are central to the present research, which explores the premise that consumers value the accrual of consumption knowledge as a means of enhancing their hedonic appreciation of future consumption experiences in a product category. Four experiments demonstrate that a consumer’s perceived level of experiential knowledge determines the types of novel consumption experiences that are sought within a product category. Specifically, novices seek a diverse set of experiences that broaden their consumption knowledge in a product category, whereas experts seek a focused set of experiences that deepen their consumption knowledge in a product category. Implications for current conceptualizations of both novelty seeking and consumption knowledge are discussed.

When ab ≠ c – c: Published errors in the reports of single mediator models.

Petrocelli, J.V., Clarkson, J.J., Whitmire, M.B., & Moon, P.E.
Behavior Research Methods, 45, 595-601. (2013)

Accurate reports of mediation analyses are critical to the assessment of inferences related to causality, since these inferences are consequential for both the evaluation of previous research (e.g., meta-analyses) and the progression of future research. However, upon reexamination, approximately 15 % of published articles in psychology contain at least one incorrect statistical conclusion (Bakker & Wicherts, Behavior Research Methods, 43, 666–678 2011), disparities that beget the question of inaccuracy in mediation reports. To quantify this question of inaccuracy, articles reporting standard use of single-mediator models in three high-impact journals in personality and social psychology during 2011 were examined. More than 24 % of the 156 models coded failed an equivalence test (i.e., ab 0 c – c′), suggesting that one or more regression coefficients in mediation analyses are frequently misreported. The authors cite common sources of errors, provide recommendations for enhanced accuracy in reports of single-mediator models, and discuss implications for alternative methods.

The malleable influence of social consensus on attitude certainty.

Attitude structure/strength
Clarkson, J.J., Tormala, Z.L., Rucker, D.D., & Dugan, R.G.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 1019-1022. (2013)

People often reflect on the opinions of others and express greater attitude certainty when they perceive their attitudes to be shared by others (high attitude consensus). The present research tests the possibility that either high or low attitude consensus can increase attitude certainty depending on people’s salient social identification needs. In particular, high attitude consensus with a target group is found to be more validating when people seek to belong to the group, as this identification motive promotes a search for similarities between themselves and the group. In contrast, low attitude consensus with a target group is found to be more validating when people seek to be unique from a group, as this identification motive promotes a search for dissimilarities between themselves and the group. Two experiments support these hypotheses, offering insight into the intra-personal motives that alter the diagnostic value of social consensus information.

Motivated reflection on attitude-inconsistent information: An exploration of the role of fear of invalidity in self-persuasion.

Persuasion/Resistance to change
Clarkson, J.J., Valente, M.J., Leone, C., & Tormala, Z.L.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 1559-1570. (2013)

The mere thought effect is defined in part by the tendency of self-reflective thought to heighten the generation of and reflection on attitude-consistent thoughts. By focusing on individuals’ fears of invalidity, we explored the possibility that the mere opportunity for thought sometimes motivates reflection on attitude-inconsistent thoughts. Across three experiments, dispositional and situational fear of invalidity was shown to heighten reflection on attitude-inconsistent thoughts. This heightened reflection, in turn, interacted with individuals’ thought confidence to determine whether attitude-inconsistent thoughts were assimilated or refuted and consequently whether individuals’ attitudes and behavioral intentions depolarized or polarized following a sufficient opportunity for thought, respectively. These findings emphasize the impact of motivational influences on thought reflection and generation, the importance of thought confidence in the assimilation and refutation of self-generated thought, and the dynamic means by which the mere thought bias can impact self-persuasion.

Revisiting the restorative effects of positive mood: An expectancy-based approach to self-control restoration.

Egan, P.M., Clarkson, J.J., & Hirt, E.R.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 57, 87-99. (2015)

The present research explored the empirical relation between positive mood and self-control restoration. In line with recent work on the perceptual correlates of self-control exertion, we tested whether positive mood’s restorative effects could be partly attributable to expectancies of mental energy change. Results showed that positive mood elicited a general expectancy of mental energy restoration and that negative mood elicited a general expectancy of mental energy depletion. Furthermore, these expectancies were shown to alter perceptual and cognitive state in manners predictive of downstream self-control performance. Together, these results compliment emerging work on the importance of perceptual processes in the modulation of self-control performance, and warrant future work on the role of expectancies and subjective fatigue in self-regulatory pursuits.

The bigger they come, the harder they fall: The paradoxical effect of regulatory depletion on attitude change.

Persuasion/Resistance to change
Petrocelli, J.V., Williams, S.A., & Clarkson, J.J.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 58, 82-94. (2015)

The present research explores a new effect of regulatory resource depletion on persuasion by proposing that the experience of depletion can increase or decrease openness to attitude change by undermining perceived counterargument strength. Ironically, this openness is hypothesized to be strongest for individuals holding attitudes with high (versus low) certainty, as individuals should expect high certainty attitudes to be more resistant—an expectation the experience of depletion is hypothesized to violate. Supporting the hypotheses, three studies demonstrate that individuals expect high certainty attitudes to be stable (Study 1), the experience of resource depletion violates this expectancy and increases the openness to counterattack (Study 2), and this openness is driven by decreased perceptions of counterargument strength (Study 3). By augmenting (attenuating) the effect of argument quality for high (low) certainty attitudes, the experience of depletion on perceived counterargument performance offers insight into novel means by which resource depletion can influence persuasion.

The self-control consequences of political ideology.

Clarkson, J.J., Chambers, J.R., Hirt, E.R., Otto, A.S., Kardes, F.R., & Leone, C.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (2015)

Evidence from three studies reveals a critical difference in self-control as a function of political ideology. Specifically, greater endorsement of political conservatism (versus liberalism) was associated with greater attention regulation and task persistence. Moreover, this relationship is shown to stem from varying beliefs in freewill; specifically, the association between political ideology and selfcontrol is mediated by differences in the extent to which belief in freewill is endorsed, is independent of task performance or motivation, and is reversed when freewill is perceived to impede (rather than enhance) self-control. Collectively, these findings offer insight into the self-control consequences of political ideology by detailing conditions under which conservatives and liberals are better suited to engage in self-control and outlining the role of freewill beliefs in determining these conditions.

Restoration effects following depletion: Adventures in the uncanny resilience of man.

Hirt, E.R., Clarkson, J.J., Egan, P.M., & Eyink, J.R.
In E.R. Hirt, J.J. Clarkson, & L. Jia (Eds.), Self-Regulation and Ego Control. San Diego, CA: Elselvier

Past research on depletion has illustrated how prior exertion of self-control leads individuals to perform more poorly at subsequent self-control tasks.  However, a number of recent studies have illustrated cases in which certain manipulations (e.g., positive mood, power, self-affirmation, meditation, exposure to nature) can ameliorate the effects of prior depletion and restore individuals’ performance back to a level commensurate with non-depleted controls.  Most of these demonstrations posit their own separate mechanisms for these restoration effects.  In the present work, we present a model that attempts to account for the success of these diverse instances of restoration.  The model emphasizes the role of expectancies derived from lay beliefs regarding the mental energy changes associated with various conditions, which affect perceptions of mental fatigue and its consequences for cognitive and behavioral performance. We present evidence from two lines of work investigating specific examples of restoration (positive mood, power) that provide support for our model and then discuss current and future work aimed at integrating these effects within a broader frameworkof self-regulation..