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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2008 Feb;94(2):196-213. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.

Opening the mind to close it: considering a message in light of important values increases message processing and later resistance to change.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 97340, USA.


Past research showed that considering a persuasive message in light of important rather than unimportant values creates attitudes that resist later attack. The traditional explanation is that the attitudes come to express the value or that a cognitive link between the value and attitude enhances resistance. However, the current research showed that another explanation is plausible. Similar to other sources of involvement, considering important rather than unimportant values increases processing of the message considered in light of those values. This occurs when the values are identified as normatively high or low in importance and when the perceived importance differs across participants for the same values. The increase in processing creates resistance to later attacks, and unlike past research, individual-level measures of initial amount of processing mediate value importance effects on later resistance to change. Important values motivate processing because they increase personal involvement with the issue, rather than creating attitudes that represent or express core values.

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