Social Psychology

Student Learning Program

Chapter 7: Defending attitudes: Resisting persuasion (pp. 258265)

Ask Yourself?

In this topic

  1. Gathering Defenses: Forewarning, Forearming and Arguing Back (pp. 259262)
    1. Inoculation: Practice can be the best resistance medicine
    2. Inoculation and advertising effectiveness
  2. Subliminal Persuasion (pp. 262265)
    1. How to resist subliminal influence
Gathering Defenses: Forewarning, Forearming and Arguing Back
Inoculation: Practice can be the best resistance medicine

Arguing against a persuasive appeal can be an effective way to resist persuasive information.

Research activity: Persuasive appeals

Inoculation and advertising effectiveness

Defending our attitudes can make them stronger.

People need motivation and (cognitive) capacity to defend their attitudes.

Defending our attitudes can make them more important, and we are more motivated to defend important attitudes.

Most people underestimate their vulnerability to persuasive appeals.

Subliminal Persuasion

People are very easy to influence via subliminal stimuli. These are stimuli that we don't perceive consciously but that nevertheless have an influence on us.

How to resist subliminal influence

There are two limitations to subliminal influence:

Conscious processing always dominates subliminal influence.

So what does this mean?

People often seek to resist persuasion, and one of their best weapons is awareness. People protect established attitudes by ignoring or resisting information that threatens them. Being forewarned of a persuasion attempt, and having previous experience with related arguments, can help resistance. However, many people overestimate their ability to resist persuasive appeals. Subliminal persuasion gains some of its power because people do not realize they are the target of a persuasive attempt. Information presented outside of conscious awareness can influence attitudes and persuasion, but careful consideration of attitude objects can weaken the influence of subliminal information.

Back to chapter 7 introduction

In this chapter

  1. Chapter 7 introduction
  2. Attitudes and their origins
  3. Superficial and systematic routes to persuasion: From snap judgments to considered opinions
  4. Defending attitudes: Resisting persuasion
  5. Chapter overview (PDF)
  6. Fill-in-the-blanks
  7. Multiple-choice questions