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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).

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