Does Fear Motivate Critical Evaluations of Political Arguments? Emotion and Dual-Processing Models of Persuasion
43 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 25 Aug 2010
Date Written: 2010
Under what conditions are individuals persuaded by political arguments encountered in the news? In this project, we integrate recent political science research on the effects of fear on persuasion with dual process models of persuasion from cognitive psychology and the Extended Parallel Processing Model developed in the fear appeal literature. These models predict that anxiety motivates a mixture of systematic and heuristic processing when individuals evaluate a persuasive message. Two experimental studies demonstrate that in an anxious state, individuals appear to rely on easy to use heuristics like source cues to gauge the effectiveness of the proposed solution. The second experimental study offers evidence that personal involvement with the issue may moderate this effect, with highly involved individuals choosing to engage in systematic processing when anxious. We discuss the theoretical implications of our findings as well as avenues for additional research.
Keywords: anxiety, persuasion, dual process models, need for cognition
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