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Social Judgement Theory, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Different principles based around people’s different and unchangeable sense of identity. These are:

  1. Judgments are determined by categories, and persuasive arguments are processed through these categories.
  2. When receiving persuasive information, categories are used for assessment and cognition.
  3. Latitudes are influenced by ego-involvement.
  4. Categorization results in the distortion of information during judgment.
  5. Anchor position differences can change judgment, however, obvious discrepancies do not.

The current state of social judgment theory and practice

Currently, the social judgment theory uses three attitude zones; acceptance, rejection and noncommitment. (Sherif and Sherif 1967) It is currently used in order to research people’s preferences, socialization patterns and is a popular method in occupational psychology. However, it is more often utilized in marketing and media industries, where the profiling of the target customers is necessary for creating persuasive messages.

A new context or another theory that can be conjoined to your primary theory.

As the main limitation of social judgment theory is based on the love involvement and motivation, as well as weak messages and the latitude of non-commitment which are hard to measure, analyzing the two different message types of persuasion; central and peripheral would create a new context for research and involve reactions which have no relevance to the actual message. (Moore, 2001). It is also proven by Smith et al. (2006) that the believability of the acceptance latitude is higher than when the latitude of noncommitment is present. In this sense, involving the distinction of peripheral and central route approach will improve the results when low involvement (equivalent to noncommitment in social judgment theory) is present.

Elaboration likelihood model in theory and practice

Elaboration likelihood model has been studied within the area of consumer research by Lien (2001). It was first introduced in the 1980-s, and since then it has been used in the areas of cognitive and social psychology, as well as consumer behavior studies with success. As every research model related to persuasion, this method has its limitations as well. It is powerful because it takes into consideration the subject’s previous knowledge and preconceptions unrelated to the questions of research. It focuses on the level of processing messages; the research subject’s willingness and abilities related to them. It does also include item-specific processing and relational processing. (Lien, 2001) The ideology behind the elaboration likelihood model also states that compared to category-specific processing, used in social judgment theory, results can be based on item-specific processing of the subject, more relevant to the study, providing a more reliable result. Researchers are able to decide which route to take based on the subject of research. It can also determine the strength of the argument.

Uncharted areas the new method would reveal and analyze

As confirmed by Moore (2001) and Lien (2001) it is evident that categorization is the main source of judgment distortion. This means that item-specific research and consideration of the two routes offered by the elaboration likelihood model would result in a lower level of distortion. Although fusing the two methods has its challenges and needs to be tested, the hypothesis that more reliable data would be gained through the combined research is likely to be confirmed by research.

As latitudes used by social judgment theory might be influenced by the level of involvement, attitudes, the number of times the topic has been repeated in the person’s life (relevant to media and public relation research), and the measurements might be misleading. Therefore, instead of categorization, peripheral route approach of elaboration likelihood method can add a context to research where involvement is low and noncommitment is present. Processing messages, such as celebrity endorsements, colors, noises, music and even facial features of people appearing in the message, irrelevant to the verbal communication would be beneficial. (Bodenhausen, 1998)

The reason for need to change the approach of researching judgment and socialization, as well as the effect of persuasive messages is that since the beginning of the 20th Century, mass communication has changed significantly. Comparing a newspaper article message and today’s flashy TV ads, for example would not result in equal approaches and researchers would find that there are many non-verbal elements present in every aspect of persuasion.

As an example, in Internet based advertisement, celebrity endorsement is often used as a persuasive tool. The listener might not know the company or product, however, they might accept the message based on their acceptance of the celebrity appearing. This is an area which is untouched when conducting research based on plainly social judgment theory.

On the other hand, the level of involvement might be low, however, the answer and reaction of persuasive messages would still be high based on the peripheral route assessment. As a persuasive message might involve emotional reactions, this can influence the person’s attitude, without taking into consideration their socialization patterns or even categorization processes.

The changes brought in by the combination of methods

The two main disadvantages of using only the social judgment theory are that noncommitment latitude is hard to measure, and the categorization does distort data. Therefore, by pulling the two routes and the item-specific judgment assessment model into the research model, the two weakest links of the theoretical approach can be eliminated. Social judgment theory does ignore the content of the message. Therefore, not all message variables are taken into consideration.O’Keefe (1990) confirmed that the clarity of measuring involvement is not clear, either. Manipulating the environment in social judgment theory is also possible, according to Sherif and Hovland (1961).

Fusion of theories

In the aspect of applying elaboration likelihood model, the importance of latitudes does not have a great significance. Although in social judgment theory these are used to measure attitudes, they are only related to cognitive messages. The advantage of applying the two-way approach of elaboration likelihood model, the research can focus on more than verbal, audio and imagery messages. It is able to dig deeper into people’s unconscious reactions. This type of reaction has been the subject of research for decades. The most common use of this is in the mass media, where marketing communication has a goal to achieve; to make people buy a product and develop a positive attitude towards a company. It has been studied that even milliseconds of picture cut-ins are able to change the effect of the persuasive message. The fusion of the two theories would result in a better understanding of customer reactions when the involvement level is lower. Therefore, when a person is unable to fully elaborate the message on a cognitive level, their reaction can still be measured. (Moore, 2001). Persuading people who have no previous knowledge of the product, company or service has been a challenge of marketing communication and public relations for a long time. Therefore, studying associations could be completed using this method. For example, when a new company launches and would like to associate their name with an idea or message, they would feature these in the advertisement and simply say the name. When people associate the company with the dogs in the video and they like dogs, they would have a positive attitude towards the brand. Moore (2001) concludes that when there is no way the receiver of the persuasive message is able to process the information, they automatically use association and think about things they think are related to the image. (Patterson et al. 2009)

Deciding on which route of persuasive messaging to choose would be based on the involvement level of the receiver. In case of high involvement, the central route would be used, while when there is noncommitment present, the peripheral approach is more effective.

The Multi-theoretical approach

The new approach would combine the benefits of the two theories. Developing a framework to determine the level of involvement using the social judgment theory and determining which route to use; central or peripheral would be resulting in a better quality of communication regarding persuasive messages.

Study design and comparison of research methods

Testing the theory at work would involve a research of media messages. People would be assigned to groups based on their involvement levels with the persuasion message. The different latitudes would be determined using the variables provided by the social judgment theory. The three final categories would be used only to simplify the process; acceptance, rejection and noncommitment. When rejection and acceptance is present and determined by the research, it is possible to measure the central route of persuasion. However, in case of non-commitment, the peripheral route needs to be assessed in detail.

Repeating the research detailed by Smith et al. (2006) when baseline measurement was used and the formative research using social judgment theory was concluded would possibly result in different measurements in the same size and demographic characteristic sample. During this research, a web-based survey was conveyed regarding drinking habits of Michigan State University. By determining the latitude groups in the beginning of the survey, the researchers would create a campaign using video content regarding alcohol consumption during university years. The messages within the video content would contain both central and peripheral persuasion methods, and these would be measured separately. In groups where commitment was present; acceptance and rejection latitudes, the central route messages would be assessed in order to determine the level of change in attitudes. While when noncommitment is present, the different irrelevant persuasive signals, such as celebrity endorsement,

Results anticipated from the new approach

The results of the research study would be suited for researching the verbal and non-verbal persuasive messages of media at the same time. When conducting the study, media experts and social psychologists would be able to measure the effectiveness of different relevant and non-relevant messages and associations to use in their communication. It would provide a full measurement of all aspects of communication, and finally the decisions of those belonging to a “noncommitment latitude” group could fully be assessed by experts.

The new approach could be used by media experts, public relations managers, as well as social psychologists to evaluate existing persuasive messages and improve their communication with those in the noncommitment group, by successfully measuring their associations and responses, The method would be especially useful for psychologists, when the cognitive perception of patients is limited and their language skills are under-developed. Being able to create peripheral messages in order to apply persuasion when there is no channels developed by the receiver for cognitive perception would open new opportunities for communication. The researchers believe that the new method would improve the reliability of both social judgment and elaboration likelihood theories effectively in the future.

Limitations of the survey using the combined method

The main limitations of the approach could lie in the limitation of determining commitment and involvement levels. As the research would involve a topic which has social norms attached to it, some participants might alter their initial answers related to the topic of drinking habits in order to appear more reliable and favorable. Therefore, when conducting surveys and research regarding social norms, habits and personal subjects, it is always advisable to ensure the anonymity of the test subjects. In order to get the most reliable results, cross-testing and the determination of patterns in behavior needs to be completed.

Conclusion

Summary of findings

The initial hypothesis stating that applying the two way persuasion approach in social judgment theory would result in more reliable research data is confirmed. However, in order to prove the theory, there is a need for testing the two models side by side. Researching the same topic with the same sample size and population and comparing the reliability of the data would certainly improve the strength of the thesis and provide an alternative approach in applied psychology. The measurements of noncommitment latitude research subjects can certainly be improved through the new approach, therefore, the combined method would be suitable for researching psychological cases, consumer behavior and even children’s socialization patterns. Those with limited language or cognitive skills could also be assessed using the peripheral approach of the elaboration likelihood model.

Further notes and recommendations

Testing the new combined method in real life environment and measuring the level of persuasion effect within mass media and public relations could bring in a new aspect into research. The new model is certainly more suited for testing modern communication models than social judgment theory alone. However, the implementation of theories and messages on the peripheral scale would be the subject of further research. Until the right categories of peripheral channels and persuasive messages are clarified based on modern technology, marketing communication and public relations, there will always be limitations to research, even when the implementation of the two theories is fully completed. Therefore, the next step of developing the strategy would be to clarify the categories of non-verbal and peripheral persuasive messages. The research of these subjects can only be complete when the comparison of two different messages takes place and different results on the same research sample can be achieved. This, however, would provide professionals with a tool which would help them create a more effective way of communication and persuasion.

References

Moore, Charlie. (2001, Fall). Elaboration Likelihood Model. Retrieved May 20, 2003 www.ciaadvertising.org/student_account/fall_01.

Harries, P. and Harries, C. (2001) Studying Clinical Reasoning, Part 2: Applying Social Judgement Theory. British Journal of Occupational Therapy June 2001 64(6)

O’Keefe, D. J. (1990). Persuasion: Theory and research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Schiappa, E. (1991). Protagoras and logos: A study in Greek philosophy and rhetoric. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.

Sherif, M., & Hovland, C. I. (1961; rpt. 1980). Social judgment: Assimilation and contrast effects in communication and attitude change. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Sherif, M., & Sherif, C. M. (1967; rpt. 1976). Attitudes as the individual’s own categories: The social judgment-involvement approach to attitude and attitude change. In C. W Sherif & M. Sherif (Eds.). Attitude, ego-involvement, and change (pp. 105-139). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Sherif, C. W., Sherif, M., & Nebergall, R. E. (1965; rpt. 1981). Attitude and attitude change: The social judgment-involvement approach. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Muzafer S. (1935). A study of some social factors in perception. Archives of Psychology, 27(187), 1-60. Retrieved from http://www.brocku.ca/MeadProject/Sherif/Biblography.html

Macfarlane, A., & Stuard-Smith, J. (2012). Social Judgements and Fine Phonetic Variation in Glasgow. Lingua, 122(7), 15;764-778. Retrieved from http://0-web.ebscohost.com.opac.library.csupomona.edu/ehost/detail?vid=3&hid=106&[email protected]&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ==

Muzafer S., & S. Stansfeld Sargent. (1947). “Ego-involvement and the mass media.” Journal of Social Issues, 3, 8-16. Retrieved from http://www.brocku.ca/MeadProject/Sherif/Biblography.html

Cooksey, R. (1996). Thinking & reasoning. (2 ed., Vol. 2-3, pp. 141-174). Australia: Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/135467896394483

Bourdieu, P. (1979). A social of critique of the judgement of taste. (pp. 9-63). Paris: Les Editions de Munuit. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?

Bodenhausen, G., & Macrea, C. N. (1998). Stereotype activation and inhibition. (Vol. XI, pp. 1-23). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=dGgKktkrHbEC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=s ocial judgement&ots=nScnczW0Tr&sig=w-XJYtbrOuwLBjPV55z2jzlaa2I

Patterson, M., Tubbs, M., Carrier, G., & Barber, L. (2009). Temporal patterns of accuracy confidence in social judgments: A new method and initial results. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 33(4), 239-249. doi: 10.1007/s10919-009-0072-3

Smith, S. W., Atkin, C. K., Martell, D., Allen, R., & Hembroff, L. (2006). A Social Judgment Theory Approach to Conducting Formative Research in a Social Norms Campaign. Communication Theory, 1(16), 141-152. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2885.2006.00009.x

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