Attitude change and interactive communications chapter objectives

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Chapter 8: Attitude Change and Interactive Communications



When students have finished reading this chapter, they should understand why:

  • The communications model identifies several important components for marketers when they try to change consumers’ attitudes toward products and services.

  • The consumer who processes such a message is not necessarily the passive receiver of information marketers once believed him to be.

  • Several factors influence a message source’s effectiveness.

  • The way a marketer structures his message determines how persuasive it will be.

  • Audience characteristics help to determine whether the nature of the source or the message itself will be relatively more effective.

This chapter focuses on how the marketer can attempt to change attitudes through persuasive and interactive communications. In fact, persuasion refers to an attempt to change attitudes. To begin this process of change, a good place to start is in understanding communication models. A standard model is presented along with ramifications for changing attitudes. Parts of this model include a source, message, medium, receiver, and feedback.
Although the traditional communications model is acceptable, it does not tell the whole story as far as consumer behavior is concerned. Consumers have more choices than ever and much more control over which messages they will choose to process. Marketers must keep pace with the rapidly changing communication environment if they wish to reach consumers with their messages and ideas.
Regardless of how or to what extent the consumer receives the message, source effects are an important variable to be considered by the marketer and advertiser. Under most conditions, the source of a message will have a big impact on the likelihood the message will be accepted. Two particularly important source characteristics are discussed—source credibility and attractiveness. The study of attractiveness is particularly interesting given the dramatic increase in the usage of celebrities to endorse products. Pros and cons of this approach are reviewed.
Characteristics of the message itself help to determine its impact on attitudes. Some elements of a message that help to determine its effectiveness are whether it is conveyed in words or pictures, how often the message is repeated, whether an emotional or rational appeal is employed, the frequency with which it is repeated, whether a conclusion is drawn, whether both sides of the argument are presented, and whether the message includes fear, humor, or sexual references. Each of these elements is reviewed in this chapter.
The relative influence of the source versus the message depends on the receiver’s level of involvement with the communication. The elaboration likelihood model (ELM) specifies that a less-involved consumer will more likely be swayed by source effects, while a more-involved consumer will more likely attend to and process components of the actual message. Marketers must learn to account for these differences if they wish to be effective communicators.

Chapter Outline
1. Changing Attitudes Through Communication

a. Consumers are constantly bombarded by messages inducing them to change their

attitudes. The focus of this chapter is on aspects of communication that specifically

help to determine how and if attitudes will be created or modified.

1) Persuasion refers to an active attempt to change attitudes.

2) Persuasion is a central goal of many marketing communications.

3) Some psychological principles that function in the persuasion process are:

a) Reciprocity.

b) Scarcity.

c) Authority.

d) Consistency.

e) Liking.

f) Consensus.

Discussion Opportunity—Have the class think of an attitude that one or both of their parents have. Ask them to think of a way that they could persuade them to change the attitude?
Decisions, Decisions: Tactical Communications Options

b. To craft persuasive messages that might change attitudes, a number of questions

must be answered:

1) Who is featured in the ad that seeks to change an attitude? Given the

circumstances, who would be best? (The source of a message helps to determine

consumers’ acceptance of it as well as their desire to try the product.)

2) How should the message be constructed?

3) What media should be used to transmit the message?

4) What characteristics of the target market might influence the ad’s acceptance?
The Elements of Communication

c. Marketers and advertisers have traditionally tried to understand how marketing

messages can change consumers’ attitudes by thinking in terms of the

communications model that specifies that a number of elements are necessary

for communications to be achieved. The basic model can be perceived as

having five parts:

1) The source—where the communication originates.

2) This meaning must be put in the form of a message. There are many ways to

say something.

3) The message must be transmitted via a medium (such as television or


4) The message is then decoded by one or more receivers. The receiver interprets

the message in light of their own experiences.

5) Finally, feedback must be received by the source (who uses the reactions of

the receivers to modify aspects of the message).

*****Use Figure 8.1 Here *****
Discussion Opportunity—Provide an illustration of the communications model described in the chapter. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this model? How can the source be a better communicator?
An Updated View: Interactive Communications

d. Traditional models of communications do not tell the whole story about the

communication process.

1) Consumers have many choices in today’s dynamic world of interactivity.

2) Permission marketing is a relatively new term used to describe consumers who have

agreed to allow marketers to send them promotional information.

3) The traditional broadcasting, where the information is transferred and then repeated before the buy buys is outdated with the advent of narrocasting.

4) Consumers are becoming more like partners than ever before. They may seek

out messages.

5) The remote control device is an example of this “seeking” behavior.

Consumers are seeking to control their media environment.
*****Use Figure 8.2 Here; Use Consumer Behavior Challenge #9 Here *****
Discussion Opportunity—Ask students to think of examples of how they are passive and active in information acquisition. Ask how they interact with the media to receive information.
Discussion Opportunity—Ask: How you are attempting to control your own Web or Internet environment.
f. There has been an influx in new ways to transmit information in both text and picture form.

1) M-commerce (mobile commerce) involves wireless devices including cell phones, PDAs, iPods. These channels are growing and are quickly being used by marketers as alternatives channels for promotional information.

2) Blogging is where people post messages to the Web in diary form. There are various types of blogs, including flogs (confederate blogs created by companies to generate buzz).
*****Use Consumer Behavior Challenge #2 Here *****
2. The Source

a. Regardless of how a message is received, common sense tells us that the same

words uttered or written by different people can have very different effects.

1) Under most conditions, the source of a message can have a big impact on the

likelihood the message will be accepted.

2) Two very important source characteristics are credibility and attractiveness.

Source Credibility

b. Source credibility refers to a source’s perceived expertise, objectivity, or trust-

worthiness. The belief that a communicator is competent is important to most

consumers. A credible source can be particularly persuasive when the consumer

has not yet learned much about a product or formed an opinion of it.

1) Credibility can be enhanced if the source’s qualifications are perceived as

somehow relevant to the product being endorsed. This linkage can overcome

many objections the consumer may have toward the endorser or product.

2) Even negatively perceived sources can affect attitude change in a positive manner

through what is known as the sleeper effect. This effect demonstrates that in some

instances, the differences in attitude change between positive sources and less positive

sources that seem to get erased over time. Explanations of the sleeper effect include:

a) The dissociative cue hypothesis—over time the message and the source

become disassociated in the consumer’s mind.

b) The availability-valence hypothesis—emphasizes the selectivity of

memory owing to the limited capacity.

*****Use Consumer Behavior Challenge #3 Here *****
Discussion Opportunity—Ask students to think of a specific illustration of the sleeper effect.

3) A consumer’s beliefs about a product’s attributes can be weakened if the

source is perceived to be the victim of bias in presenting information.

a) Knowledge bias implies that a source’s knowledge about a topic is not


b) Reporting bias occurs where a source has the required knowledge, but his

or her willingness to convey it accurately is compromised.
Discussion Opportunity—Ask: What celebrity sources do you perceive as being most credible? Is this in specific product or service categories or across the board?

4) Often, the more involved a company appears to be in promoting its products, the less

credible it becomes. This phenomenon, known as the Corporate Paradox, results in

hype that is easily dismissed by consumers.

5) In contrast, buzz generated by word of mouth is viewed as authentic and credible.

*****Use Table 8.1 Here *****
Discussion Opportunity—Ask students to think of an example of word of mouth surrounding a product that could be considered buzz.
Source Attractiveness

c. Source attractiveness refers to the source’s perceived social value. This quality

can emanate from the person’s physical appearance, personality, social status, or

similarity to the receiver (we like to listen to people who are like us).

1) When used correctly, famous or expert spokespersons can be of great value.

They can also be very expensive.

2) A halo effect often occurs when persons of high rank on one dimension are

assumed to excel on others as well. Be careful of the stereotype “what is

beautiful is good.”
Discussion Opportunity—Ask students to give an example of the “halo effect.”
3) A physically attractive source, however, tends to facilitate attitude change.

a) Beauty serves as a source of information.

b) The social adaptation perspective assumes that information seen to be

instrumental in forming an attitude will be more heavily weighted by

the perceiver.

4) Celebrities embody cultural meanings to the general society.

5) The match-up hypothesis says that celebrities that match the product are the

most successful endorsers.

*****Use Consumer Behavior Challenges #5 and #15 *****
Discussion Opportunity—Ask students to give an example of a celebrity that they perceive to be an illustration of the match-up hypothesis.
Discussion Opportunity—As a means of contrasting credibility with attractiveness, ask students to give examples of products where they would want to make sure their source is credible; examples where their source is attractive.

6) At times, the image of celebrity endorsers can damage the image of a company or

brand. For this reason, companies may seek animated characters or fictitious mascots

as endorsers.

7) A more current trend sees companies utilizing endorsers in the form of an avatar, or


Discussion Opportunity—Ask: Can you think of company spokespersons who fit the company or the product image? Who do not fit? What should the company do about this? Give an example of a celebrity whose image has really hurt a company’s marketing effort.
Discussion Opportunity—Ask: Name an avatar that a company currently uses in association with a product, service, or Web site.
3. The Message

a. Are commercials effective? Research indicates that those that have a brand-

differentiating message are consistently the most effective.

b. Characteristics of the message itself have an impact on attitudes. Issues facing

marketers include:

1) Should she convey the message in words or pictures?

2) How often should she repead the message?

3) Should it draw a conclusion or should this be left up to the listener?

4) Should it present both sides of an argument?

5) Should it explicitly compare the product to competitors?

6) Should it include a blatant sexual appeal?

7) Should it arouse negative emotions such as fear?

8) How concrete or vivid should the arguments and imagery be?

9) Should it be funny?

*****Use Table 8.2 Here *****
Sending the Message

c. Great emphasis is placed on sending visual messages. Words may be necessary,

however, to communicate factual information. Both elements used together are

especially strong.

1) Verbal messages are stronger in high-involvement situations.

2) Visual messages result in a stronger memory trace that aids retrieval over time.

(See the idea of a “chunk” found in Chapter 3.)

d. Visual elements may affect brand attitudes.

1) The consumer may form inferences about the brand and change his or her

beliefs because of an illustration’s imagery.

2) Brand attitudes may be affected more directly through strong negative and

positive reactions. (See the dual component model of brand attitudes found in

Figure 8.3.)
*****Use Figure 8.3 Here *****
Discussion Opportunity—Ask students to think of examples when words, pictures, and both would be the best suggestions for influencing attitudes.

e. Elements:

1) Vividness—powerful descriptions and graphics help us remember.

2) Repetition—repetition helps us remember, but ads “wear out.” Too much

repetition creates habituation.

a) The two-factor theory proposes that two separate psychological processes

are operating when a person is repeatedly exposed to an ad. The positive

side increases familiarity. The negative side breeds boredom over time.

b) Advertisers have to watch too much repetition. Provide variety in the

basic message.

*****Use Figure 8.4 Here *****
Discussion Opportunity—Ask students to think of ads that illustrate vividness and repetition. What do you remember about them? Why do you think you remember what you do?
Constructing the Argument

f. Arguments can be presented in a variety of ways. Examples include:

1) The one- versus two-sided argument.

a) The supportive argument is one sided and most often used.

b) Two-sided messages give positive and negative information. This seems most
effective when the audience is well educated.

c) Refutational arguments raise a negative issue and then dismiss it.

Discussion Opportunity—Ask students to give an illustration of a supportive argument, a two-sided argument, and a refutational argument. Find an example of each in a print media form.
2) Drawing Conclusions. The question becomes should the advertiser

draw conclusions or leave it to the consumer to decide? The response

to this depends on the consumer’s motivation to process the ad and the

complexity of the arguments.

3) Comparative Advertising. This technique compares two specifically

named products and seems to be effective for new products.

*****Use Consumer Behavior Challenges #4, #10, and #12 Here *****
Discussion Opportunity—Ask: What do you think of comparative advertising? Are the arguments more believable? Do you ever find yourself defending the “against product”?
Types of Message Appeals

g. Emotional appeals try to bond the consumer with the product. Ads that make

you think through the use of rational appeals, however, are easier to recall. Effects

of emotional ads are very hard to gauge.

*****Use Consumer Behavior Challenges #1 and #6 Here *****
Discussion Opportunity—Ask students to think of situations when a rational appeal works best and when an emotional appeal works best. What is the effectiveness dependent on?
h. Sex appeals range from subtle hints to blatant displays of skin. Most assume,

however, that “sex sells.”

1) Does sex work?

a) It draws attention.

b) It is ineffective if the consumer sees it as a trick or gratuitous.

c) It is most effective if the product is sex-related (such as perfume).

*****Use Consumer Behavior Challenge #11 Here *****
Discussion Opportunity—Ask: Do you find more nudity in ads in men’s or women’s magazines? Is the nudity in either type of magazine mostly of men or of women?

Discussion Opportunity—Ask: What are your feelings about using sex in advertising? What

are the dependent factors? Even if you are against it, are there circumstances when it would be Okay?
i. Humorous appeals are somewhat challenging to use because what is funny to one is

offensive to another.

1) Humor may serve as a source of distraction and it might inhibit counterarguing.

2) Subtle humor is usually the best.

3) Humor should be appropriate to the product’s image.
Discussion Opportunity—What are some of your favorite ads that use humor? Do you buy those products or products from their competition?
j. Fear appeals emphasize the negative consequences that can occur unless the

consumer changes a behavior or an attitude.

1) This appeal can be directed toward social fear.

2) It can also be directed toward fears about careers and love life.

3) Fear is effective if used in moderate amounts.
*****Use Consumer Behavior Challenge #13 Here *****
Discussion Opportunity—Who can think of an ad in which the actors fear losing their jobs? Think of ways that career fear can be used.
Discussion Opportunity—Ask: What are some products that seem to use fear to attract customers?
The Message as Art Form: Metaphors Be with You

k. An allegory is a story told about an abstract trait or concept that has been personified as a

person, animal, or vegetable.

l. A metaphor involves placing two dissimilar objects into a close relationship such that “A

is B,” whereas a simile compares two objects, “A is like B.” Metaphors allow the

marketer to activate meaningful images and apply them to everyday events.

m. Resonance is another literary device that is frequently used in advertising to form

a presentation that combines a play on words with a relevant picture.

*****Use Table 8.3 Here; Use Consumer Behavior Challenge #14 Here *****
Discussion Opportunity—Give an illustration or bring an ad that displays a metaphor or resonance in advertising.
n. The way an audience is addressed can be just as different as the story being told.

1) Counterarguments can appear.

2) In transformational advertising, the customer associates the experience of

product usage with some subjective sensation.

Discussion Opportunity—Find an ad where a story is being told. Show or read it to the class. Ask: Do you ever catch yourself reading an ad just to see how the story ends?
Discussion Opportunity—Give an illustration of transformational advertising. Ask the class to evaluate how well the ad applies the technique.
4. The Source Versus the Message: Sell the Steak or the Sizzle?

a. Variations in a consumer’s level of involvement result in the activation of very

different cognitive processes when a message is received.
The Elaboration Likelihood Model

b. The elaboration likelihood model (ELM) assumes that once a consumer receives

a message he or she begins to process it. Depending on the personal relevance of

this information, one of two routes to persuasion will be followed. The routes are:

1) Under conditions of high involvement, a consumer takes the central route to


2) Under conditions of low involvement, a peripheral route is taken.

*****Use Figure 8.5 Here *****
c. In the central route to processing, the consumer will determine if the message is

relevant. The person will actively think about the arguments presented and

generate either positive (cognitive responses) or negative (counterarguments)

responses. This route usually involves the traditional hierarchy of effects.

Discussion Opportunity—Illustrate the elaboration likelihood model by bringing in a series of print ads that illustrate either the central route or the peripheral route. Show them to the class and ask the class to identify which route is more dominant. Also ask students to point out cognitive cues and peripheral cues in either type of ad.

d. In the peripheral route to persuasion, the consumer is not motivated to think about

the argument and use other cues in deciding on the suitability of the message.

Discussion Opportunity—Ask: If you were the producer of a product that was being examined by the consumer in a peripheral way, what strategies could you suggest for dealing with this? In what instances would this not be bad for the producer?
e. The ELM model has received a lot of research support. Crucial variables to this

model are:

1) Message-processing involvement—high or low.

2) Argument strength—use strong or weak arguments in ads.

3) Source characteristics—viewed as positive or negative by receivers.
*****Use Consumer Behavior Challenge #9 (Used Previously) Here *****

End-of-Chapter Support Material

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