Examination of psychological processes underlying resistance to persuasion

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Three modes of resistance to persuasion (biased assimilation, relative weighting of attributes, and minimization of impact) were examined in the context of a longitudinal field study of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair and a lab experiment in the consumer setting. Only two of these modes (biased assimilation and relative weighting) were found to be sensitive to the refutability of the persuasive communication; the effectiveness of the remaining one (minimization of impact) was not influenced by this factor. Specifically, committed individuals demonstrated biased assimilation in the face of easy to refute negative information, but this mode of resistance decreased in its effectiveness when the information became difficult to refute. The relative-weighting mode of resistance (decreasing the weight given to attributes influenced by the negative information and increasing the weight given to favorably evaluated attributes), in contrast, emerged only in the face of difficult to refute information, apparently when biased assimilation decreased in its effectiveness. The impact mode of resistance was fairly effective in the face of both easy and difficult to refute information. That is, committed respondents attempted to isolate the impact of the negative information to the target attribute, minimizing its spillover to the other attributes in the attitudinal representation in response to both easy and difficult to refute messages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-232
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2000


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