Faculty Scholarship 1994 - Present

Down the Garden Path: Role of Conditional Inference Processes in Self-Persuasion

Three experiments investigated the effects of conditional inference processes on belief system structure and persuasion. Experiment 1 applied functional measurement procedures to show that Wyer's (1974) subjective probability model of cognitive organization generalizes to belief systems using realistic product stimuli. Experiment 2 demonstrated that belief systems about products become more internally consistent when beliefs within these systems are reported repeatedly (the Socratic effect), especially when brand familiarity is low. Experiment 3 investigated the effects of horizontal versus vertical argument structures in advertising on persuasion. The results show that a persuasion-induced change in 1 belief can alter other related but unmentioned beliefs, and that resistance to persuasion is greater for horizontal than for vertical argument structures. Theoretical and applied implications of these results are discussed.