The Ability to Elaborate in a Relatively Objective Manner
If a person is going to carefully scrutinize the arguments in a persuasive message and thereby follow the central route to persuasion, the person must have the ability to evaluate the arguments. Some people may have a greater ability to process a message than others, and some persuasion situations will provide a better opportunity for relatively objective elaboration than others. As we noted in Chapter 2, it is possible to tell whether a target variable enhances or reduces argument processing in a relatively objective manner by manipulating argument quality along with the target variable. If the variable enhances argument processing, subjects’ thoughts and attitudes should be more polarized when the variable is present rather than absent, but if the variable reduces argument processing, subjects’ thoughts and attitudes should be less polarized when the variable is present rather than absent. In this chapter, we first highlight three variables that appear to affect information processing in a relatively objective way—distraction, message repetition, and recipient posture. Then, we will briefly note some additional variables that may also affect relatively objective information processing.
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