Persuasion and Attitudes

Advertising and Captology influence on attitudes and behavioural intent to same-sex marriage

Attitudes are key to human interaction; simple attitudes, for example our choices of brands, or complex attitudes such as our decisions on how we vote or act towards another person. An attitude is an individuals cognitive evaluation of a particular person, group, object, action or concept (Smith & Mackie, 2007).

The Theory of Reasoned Action conjectures that the cause of any behaviour is the behavioural intention. A behavioural intention may be defined as an individuals conscious decision to engage in a certain action (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975). Prejudice is one of the most commonly examined attitudes research areas, including racism, sexism and homophobia. Homophobia is a fear of proximity to a homosexual. Herek (1984, 1996, 2000a) developed this definition further as hostile reactions towards lesbians and gay men; this hostility is founded upon a negative attitude and irrational fears.

Individual attitudes such as homophobia may be altered or changed through the use of various persuasive methods (Hogg & Vaughan, 2007). Persuasion itself is described as inducing a person to adopt particular values, beliefs or attitudes through one or a number of processes.
Different advertisements are often characterised by persuasion models such as the Elaboration Likelihood Model (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986) and the Heuristic Systematic Model (Bohner, Moskowitz & Chaiken, 1995) based on the facts, statistics or semantic opinions present in the message. The message effect may be dependent on its delivery or endorsement. Persuasion methods such as reframing connect the audience to the issue using emotion or fact, a similar technique to the captology method of interactivity.
Interactivity is a humanlike cue such as an avatar (Sundar & Kim, 2005). Interactivity research, which manipulated the levels of interactivity from low, medium and high, indicated the interactivity of a political campaign website that had an influence on participants attitudes towards policy issues (Sundar, Kalyanaraman & Brown, 2003).

This research drew upon past research on attitudes, persuasion, captology, and LGBT research to investigate if video advertisements and avatars have an effect upon a person’s attitudes towards Lesbians, Gay men and Same-sex marriage.

Liam Challenor supervised by Dr Irene Connolly and Hannah Barton completed the research in 2013 and was awarded a MSc by Research in 2014.