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Counter-arguing an online peer: the influence of distrust and message content on accepting online recommendations

Willers, Annika (2010) Counter-arguing an online peer: the influence of distrust and message content on accepting online recommendations.

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Abstract:The present paper investigates the influence of distrust on message processing. Notions of trust and distrust are powerful influences on the persuasiveness of messages. It was expected that the way of presenting the message source (trustworthy or untrustworthy) would alter not only acceptance but also how the message is processed. Processing can differ in its complexity, hence in its amount of thoughts about the message. A specific part of this complexity is counterarguing. Here, incongruent thoughts are added to the processing, which reflect the opposite of what the message source has claimed. Complexity of processing and specifically counter-arguing were expected to reduce acceptance of the message, especially when thoughts on the message are related to relevant outcomes. Two experiments were carried out to investigate this mechanism. The first one was conducted in a laboratory setting and the second one online. Both experiments used peer recommendations as messages wherein notions of trust and type of message content were manipulated. Other than effects of trust on counter-arguing and acceptance, moderating roles of message content were investigated. Study 1 found that distrust increases complexity of processing and subsequently resistance to the message, if message content is relevant to the reader’s goal. Counter-arguing was found to explain part of this mechanism. Study 2 showed that distrust leads to counter-arguing if message content is ambiguous. Counter-arguing then leads to less favorable product attitudes, which is moderated by perceived relevance of the arguments. Analyses of moderated mediation however did not show entirely satisfying results, which prove the need for future research about the mechanism of counter-arguing.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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