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Title: An extension of McGuire's inoculation theory to controversial topics.
Authors: Roberts, Michele.S
Issue Date: 16-Apr-2012
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the extension of McGuire's inoculation theory to controversial topics.It was assumed that the employment of controversial topics would reverse the conditions described as obtaining with the employment of cultural truisms.McGuire's first study on the inoculation theory was used as a paradigm,and three hypotheses were investigated:Hypothesis One: A supportive treatment will be superior to a refutational treatment in conferring resistance to persuasion.Hypothesis Two: An active participation in developing defenses will increase the amount of immunity conferred.Hypothesis Three:There is an interactive effect between the type of defense(supportive versus refutational) and the amount of participation(active versus passive): the demands of an active defense will be less detrimental in a supportive defence than in a refutational defense.To test these hypotheses,pretesting was conducted to identify a topic which produced a mean range closest to 7.5 on a 15-interval attitude scale.On the basis of this pretest,130 S's were chosen from 2 local high schools who rated from 1 to 3 the identified topic.Seven days following the pretest,S's were told that they were participating in an investigation of the relationship between reading and writing skills,and were assigned to 1 to 4 treatment conditions.S's in passive treatment conditions were required to read a prepared essay on the controversial topic and underline the main sentence;S's in active treatment conditions were required to follow a prepared outline and construct an essay on the controversial topic.S's in refutational treatment conditions were exposed to refutations of possible arguments counter to the controversial topic.An attitude measure completed this first session.Two days later,all S's were required to read and underline the main sentences in an essay attacking the controversial topic.A final attitude measure completed the study.A two-way analysis of variance was used to test the relative effects of active and passive participation in supportive and refutational treatments.This comparison of attack protest to pretest scores failed to provide support for any of the three hypotheses tested.Failure to demonstrate the predicted effects was probably due to the noted weaknesses in the experimental design.It was suggested that future research was necessary to determine whether differences between belief maintenance in cultural truisms and controversial topics were obscured by faulty experimental design,or simply do not exist.
In Collections:Psychology

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