Persuasion and attitudes-Advertising and captology influence on attitudes and behavioural intent towards lesbians, gay men and same-sex marriage
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Attitudes are essential to human interaction, ranging from simple attitudes to complex ones. An attitude is an individual's cognitive evaluation of a particular person, group, object, action or concept (Smith & Mackie, 2007). These evaluations are correlated to resulting behaviours using the Theory of Reasoned Action that conjectures that the cause of any behaviour is an individual's conscious decision to engage in a certain action (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975). However, individual attitudes such as homophobia may be altered using persuasive methods (Hogg & Vaughan, 2007). A similar persuasion technique is interactivity; this is when a human-like cue such as an avatar is used to alter an attitude (Sundar & Kim, 2005; Vasalou & Joinson, 2009). This research investigates if advertising and captology interventions affect participant attitudes towards lesbians, gay men and same-sex marriage. This research used same-sex marriage policy advertising to identify if an effect on participant attitudes and voting was present. Statistical analysis found that policy advertising had an effect on participant attitudes towards same-sex marriage [F (2,251), P=<. 0005; Wilk's Lambda=. 428; n2=. 572]. However, policy advertising had no effect on attitudes toward lesbians and gay men. In the second part of this study, male and female avatars were created with different expressive abilities. These avatars were embedded in a same-sex marriage advertisement to identify if the avatar itself, their actions or gender affected participant attitudes and voting behaviour. The avatars did not statistically alter attitudes towards same-sex marriage or lesbians and gay men. In the last phase of this research, participants were interviewed about the advertising, avatars and materials used during this study. The interview findings identified themes relating to persuasion, attitudes and anthropomorphism. These results suggest further research in the field of persuasive technology, persuasive advertising and their ability to alter attitudes.
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