Running head: ATTITUDE CHANGE IN VIEWING RACIST TERMS
Attitude Change in Viewing Racist Terms as Immoral Using Persuasion Tactics and Group Size
Larkin Wood II
University of Georgia
The degree of individual attitudinal change dealing with racial terms among individuals when exposed to different persuasionary group size and tactics was studied. One hundred and twenty University of Georgia students received one of the twelve different conditions, which consisted of one of the three group sizes matched with one of the four persuasion types. Significant differences were found. The participants in larger groups had slightly larger degrees of attitude change than the smaller groups. In comparing the type of persuasion tactics used, rationale had the overall highest degrees of attitude change. The results of this study suggest persuading group size does play a significant role in attitude change, with a positive correlation between, and the rationale tactic is the most effective of the persuasionary tactics. Future research should study these variables in context of sexually offensive language, or use other tactics as they are discovered.
Attitude Change in Viewing Racist Terms as Immoral Due to Persuasion Tactics and Group Size
Persuasion is a topic that has been researched for many decades. At present, persuasion is used in almost every aspect of life, work, and social communication. Many methods and theories have been developed for the use of persuasion (Smith, 1982). Ways of researching the construct have been pursued frequently. The effects of the use of racial language have also been explored, as well as the sources and motivation of the language use (Schaefer, 1996). A topic that has been researched and written about is the area of morality and moral development (Hemming, 1991; Kohlberg, 1964; Rest, Narvaez, & Thoma, 2000). All three of these topics have been studied separately and sometimes together, but as far as can be established, the impact of persuasion on moral attitudes on the use of racially offensive language has not been explored. This is a very complex concept, but its need to be researched will become apparent within this study.
Many families, cultures, and peer groups use racially explicit language and they do not even find the language to be wrong or immoral (Schaefer, 1996). What about the people who find the language immoral and still use this style of racism? Is the reason conformity to social or peer pressures or is the reason something that makes an individual feel superior? Much research could be done around these concepts and questions, but the question being researched in this study is a very specific one: Can an individual who finds racial language immoral be persuaded to use the language in certain situations? Maybe it would benefit to show what started the reasoning for asking such a question.
Jean Latting (1993) wrote, No one changes another. We cannot force others to abandon voluntarily old attitudes and habits and to act or think as we wish instead. We can only provide the opportunity and space for people to change themselves-if, when, and as they choose. If this statement swayed the listener, they would abandon all hopes of failing to reject the previously stated research question because he concludes that people cannot be persuaded. Lattings study had two purposes:
(a) to elucidate the interpersonal dynamics of the protagonists in the persuasion effort-those who objected to terminology they experienced as racially or sexually offensive and those who were opposed ideologically to sexism or racism, yet defended the terms; and (b) to offer recommendations for future persuasion efforts based on extant theory on persuasion (Cialdini, 1988; Petty & Cacioppo, 1981) and its variants-psychological reactance, cognitive dissonance, impression management, and minority influence and on modern racism.
Lattings study is valid and it seems to have been completed with precision. His findings were inconclusive so one must reason that there are different ways to approach the study of such a topic. Latting himself even devotes a section of his article addressing how his persuasion efforts could have been more effective, which suggested a different approach to this study.
Influential tactics have been developed into a large field of study in present research. Schank and Abelsons (1977) Persuade Package is a small standard set of influential tactics with the objective