Anxiety, persuasive communication, persuasion, information processing, elaboration likelihood model, trait anxiety, cognitive load
This study explored the influence of trait anxiety on information processing in persuasive situations, and investigated cognitive load as a mediator of this relationship. The research presented was based off DeBono and McDermott's (1994) framework for exploring trait anxiety and persuasion. The theoretical lens used to explore information processing, the elaboration likelihood model (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986) posits that motivation and ability are necessary components to elaborate on a message. However, very little research has addressed ability variables like trait anxiety. I predicted that students high in trait anxiety would be persuaded by the attractiveness of the source (peripherally) whereas students low in trait anxiety would be persuaded by the strength of the arguments presented (centrally). Undergraduate students were asked to view a picture of a policy presenter and listen to a recording of the student's proposed policy statement. After listening to the recording participants wrote down their thoughts during the presentation and were tested on their ability to recall the arguments presented. They then completed a few scale items assessing their attitudes toward the policy as well as questions to maintain the cover story. Findings showed no difference in processing between low and high trait anxious individuals. However, there was a significant effect of anxiety on attitudes. Additionally, cognitive load was not found to be a mediator of the relationship between anxiety and attitudes.
Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Communication; Interpersonal Communication
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Appelbaum, Michael, "The influence of trait anxiety on information processing: An elaboration likelihood study" (2015). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 50.