Keywords

Anxiety, persuasive communication, persuasion, information processing, elaboration likelihood model, trait anxiety, cognitive load

Abstract

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.

Notes

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Graduation Date

2015

Semester

Spring

Advisor

Miller, Ann

Degree

Master of Arts (M.A.)

College

College of Sciences

Department

Communication

Degree Program

Communication; Interpersonal Communication

Format

application/pdf

Identifier

CFE0005572

URL

http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/etd/CFE0005572

Language

English

Release Date

May 2015

Length of Campus-only Access

None

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)

Restricted to the UCF community until May 2015; it will then be open access.

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