Off-Target? Changing Cognitive-Based Attitudes

Off-Target? Changing Cognitive-Based Attitudes

By
Aimee Drolet, Jennifer Aaker
Journal of Consumer Psychology.
2002, Vol. 12, Issue 1, Pages 59-68

Researchers argue that the effectiveness of cognitive versus affective persuasive appeals depends in part on whether the appeal is congruent or incongruent with a primarily cognitive or affective attitude base. However, considerable research suggests these persuasion effects may hold only for predominantly effective attitudes and not cognitive attitudes. Indeed, results of Experiment 1 show that the relative effectiveness of congruent relative to incongruent persuasion appeals holds for brands with predominantly affective associations, but not those with predominately cognitive associations. Experiment 2 explores one reason for this anomalous finding: Cognitive attitudes may be relatively impervious to persuasive appeals because the probability of targeting the specific attribute on which the cognitive attitude is based is smaller. The results are supportive, showing that significant persuasion effects are found when the specific beliefs on which cognitive attitudes are based are taken into account. However, these effects only occur under conditions of low cognitive load and not high cognitive lad where resources for the cognitive processing of the appeals are limited. We discuss the implications of the research for the role of attitude structure is understanding persuasion effects and the interplay of affective and cognitive elements in persuasion processes.