Gray, Philip A.
M.A. (Master of Arts)
Department of Psychology
The terms logic and emotion have been used by rhetoricians to identify certain aspects of human motivation as well as certain kinds of messages. Consequently, the distinctions which might exist between the terms are still unclear and it is difficult to employ them in experimental research in a way in which their meanings are concise and replicable. Based on an analysis of the different concepts of emotion and logic used by rhetoricians and psychologists, the writer elected to refer to human response as emotional and logical and to refer to parallel message characteristics as motivational and substantive. A motivational appeal was defined as one in which the message-object identified for an audience is correlated with concepts toward which that audience has stable, preformed attitudes, which are viewed as goals to be approached or avoided by them. The term substantive appeals referred to a message-object which can be evaluated by traditional standards of evidence and reasoning. The major research hypothesis for this experiment was that motivational appeals will produce significantly different degrees of attitude change than substantive appeals in subjects as measured by the difference in the means between pre-stimulus and post-stimulus attitude scores. The procedure for testing this hypothesis included four major steps: (1) the development of pre-stimulus and post-stimulus attitude scales according to the Thurstone methodology; (2) the creation of two messages in accordance with the specifications of the definitions of motivational and substantive appeals; (3) the administration of the tests and stimuli to the subjects; and (4) the collection and analysis of data. The experimenter specifically tested four null hypotheses and reached the following conclusions: 1. The null hypothesis that there will be no significant differences between the means of attitude tests administered to subjects before and after the reading of a motivational appeal was rejected. 2. The null hypothesis that there will be no significant difference between the means of attitude tests administered to subjects before and after the reading of a substantive appeal was rejected. 3. The null hypothesis that motivational and substantive appeals will produce equivalent amounts of attitude change in subjects as measured by the comparison of the mean differences between their respective prestimulus and post-stimulus attitude scores was retained. 4. The null hypothesis that there will be no correlation between the level of initial attitude and the amount of attitude change subsequent to the exposure of subjects to a substantive or motivational appeal as measured by a comparison of the mean differences between their respective pre-stimulus and post-stimulus attitude scores was rejected. In summary, then, both motivational and substantive messages can produce significant attitude change in the subjects exposed to them although neither the motivational nor the substantive appeal as defined here is superior in the amount of attitude change it can produce. Finally, the more unfavorable the subject's initial attitude to the position of the message, the greater the amount of attitude change resulting from exposure to the message, regardless of whether or not that message emphasizes motivational or substantive appeals.
Kunkel, Carol Ann, "The comparative effect of motivational and substantive message appeals on attitude" (1971). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 5365.
Northern Illinois University
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