Empirical tests of the absolute sleeper effect predicted from the discounting cue hypothesis

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Abstract

Two experiments tested the sleeper effect with respect to persuasion research (i.e., the finding that a persuasive message has a greater delayed than initial impact on Ss' attitudes). These experiments included strong tests of the discounting cue hypothesis because they (a) demonstrably created the conditions that the theory indicated were necessary for the effect to occur, (b) demonstrably minimized the impact of a force known to countervail against the effect, and (c) employed statistical tests that had adequate power to detect the effect should it occur. In Exp I, 161 undergraduates read 1 of 2 persuasive messages accompanied by a discounting cue. All the requirements for a strong test were demonstrably met with 1 message, and an absolute sleeper effect was obtained when attitudes were measured again after 5 wks. In Exp II, 493 undergraduates read a persuasive message and 1 of 5 discounting cues. All the requirements for a strong test were demonstrably met in 3 cue conditions, and absolute sleeper effects were found in each of them after 6 wks. Absolute sleeper effects were not observed in the 2 cue conditions in which the necessary conditions for the effect were not met. It is concluded that absolute sleeper effects can be reliably obtained when all the necessary theoretical conditions are met, a known countervailing force is absent, and the statistical tests have adequate power. (19 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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