A model of the relationship between attitude involvement and attitude accessibility was developed and tested. The model specifies that attitude involvement leads to selective (biased) issue-related information-gathering strategies, which in turn produce extreme and univalent (unambivalent) attitudes. Finally, attitudes associated with univalent and extreme underlying structures should occasion relatively little decision conflict and thus should be highly accessible. Questionnaire response data gathered in a national telephone survey and from two samples of undergraduates revealed that both attitude extremity and attitude ambivalence on selected political issues mediated the relationship between attitude involvement and attitude accessibility. Some findings indicated that selective processing mediated the relationship between attitude involvement and attitude extremity and ambivalence. Discussion focuses on the processes linking involvement to accessibility, the factors that moderate the ambivalence-accessibility relationship, and the relevance of the model to media-based priming effects and to the nature of public opinion and the survey response.
- Attitude accessibility
- Attitude involvement
- Political information processing