ABSTRACT

The idea that people differ in their cognitive responses to persuasive communications has such a ring of obvious truth to it that it scarcely needs documentation. A simple proof could be obtained in many ways. One could ask a number of people for their reactions to a particular persuasive communication. Despite an identical stimulus situation established by receiving the same message from the same communicator under the same conditions, each person's response would probably be unique and would differ in at least some respect from those of all the others. For example. people no doubt would agree with the communication to differing extents, and they would react differently to the communicator. Individuals might also differ in their responses to arguments the message contains, with some analyzing and reacting to each argument and others reacting mainly to the communicator or to the communication's overall point rather than to the argumentation. Thus, both agreement with the communication and cognitive responses such as counterarguing and evaluation of the communicator might differ among individuals.