Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Britt, Mary Anne

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Research on the impact of attitudes on argument processing has found that attitudes and beliefs can impact evaluation and processing, but has not deeply explored boundary conditions to this attitude consistency effect. This dissertation investigates three types of boundary conditions to this effect: whether the quality of the argument matters (argument quality), whether the individual’s strength of that attitude matters (attitude strength), and whether the evaluative nature of the task matters (task).

In Experiment 1, I found some support for argument quality as a boundary condition to the attitude consistency effect. Attitude consistent arguments were rated as higher quality/stronger than attitude inconsistent arguments, but only for arguments of high quality (warranted). Additionally, some support for attitude strength was found in Experiment 1. Arguments that were about topics that participants weakly or strongly agreed with showed higher ratings when attitude consistent compared to attitude inconsistent. For arguments about topics which participants weakly or strongly disagreed, there was no attitude consistency effect.

In Experiment 2, I found support for task and attitude strength as boundary conditions to the attitude consistency effect, but did not completely replicate the interaction between argument quality and attitude consistency on evaluations found in Experiment 1. Being in an evaluative task lead to higher reading time for argument reasons compared to a control memory task. While I did not replicate the interaction between argument quality and attitude consistency on evaluations, a three-way interaction between attitude strength, quality, and attitude consistency on reason reading time showed an attitude consistency effect for weakly disagree, weakly agree, and strongly agree warranted arguments.

These results are important when trying to teach/train people to evaluate arguments because people may need to be taught to manage their attitudes in order to prevent them from interfering during a logical evaluation task. Additionally, these results also provide some support for existent models related to attitudes and argument processing.


101 pages




Northern Illinois University

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