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Group identification as a means of attitude restoration

Clarkson, J.J., Smith, E.R., Tormala, Z.L., & Dugan, R.D (2017).
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.

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

Rahinel, R., Amaral, N., Clarkson, J.J., & Kay, A.C. (2016)
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 64, 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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

The effect of regulatory depletion on attitude certainty

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

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.

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

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.

Does fast or slow evaluation foster greater certainty?

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

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.

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

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

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

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.