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Effects of expertise and issue involvement of rehabilitation counselors in the selection of computer technology for their clients

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Title:
Effects of expertise and issue involvement of rehabilitation counselors in the selection of computer technology for their clients
Creator:
Carter, Robert Warren, 1956-
Copyright Date:
1989
Language:
English

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Copyright Robert Warren Carter. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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21052717 ( OCLC )
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EFFECTS OF EXPERTISE AND ISSUE INVOLVE"ElNT ON
REHABILITATION COUNSELORS IN TilE SELECTION OF C011PUTER
TECHNOLOGY FOR THEIR CLIENTS













By

ROBERT \.ARREN CARTER


A DISSERTATIOD: PRESENTED TO TEL GRADUATE SCHOOL OF TI!E UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REOUIREM!ENTS FOR THIE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


19U9


















AC K N W LL DG EMEN TS

I would like to express r.iy sincere appreciation to Greg ':eimeyer Lor chairing my doctoral committee. I am grateful for his expert guidance, his enthusiasm, and the personal and professional support he has !iven me.

I would like to thank each individual who has served

on my doctoral committee. Marry Grater, Franz Epting, James

Joiner, Mark ale, and Mark Alicke have each uade unique contributions to this project.

I am grateful to Michelle Donahue, who carried out her responsibilities as my research assistant in a timely and efficient manner, and Donna Kitch, my statistics consultant, whose patience and creativity were invaluable.

Finally, I would like to thank the staff at Ieaised Dot Computing for creating the softy:are that enabled .e to

independently write and edit my dissertation without vision, and my wife, Vicki, for her continued support and encouragement.


















TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

ACKNOWLEDGEAENTS ....................................... ii

ABSTRACT. ................................................



CHAPTERS

I INTRODUCTION ......................................... 1

II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE .. ........................... 8

Effect of Personal Relevance and Level of Involvement
on Information Processing and Persuasion ............. 14
The Effect of Peripheral Cues on Information
Processing and Persuasion --.--........................... 18
The Effect of Prior Knowledge on Information
Processing and Persuasion .... ....................... 20
The Present Study .-................................... 22

III 'IETHODS .. ........................................... 24

Subjects ... -...-----.................................. 24
Independent Variables .............................. 24
Involvement ......................................24
Source Credibility -................................ 25
message Development .... ............................. 25
Dependent Variables and Procedures .................. 27
The Telephone Interview ... ........................ 27
Analysis - --............................................ 29
Cognitive Responses ... ............................ 30
Behavioral Intention ................................. 30

IV RESULTS. .............................................32

anipulation Checks..................................
Issue Involvement ................................. 32
Source Credibility ................................34
Dependent measures .................................. 35
Cognitive Response ................................ 35
Behavioral Intention ....... ........................ 36

iii










V DISCUSSIMo3

Future Considerations. ...............................45

APPENDICES

A PRE-TEST SCRIPT ....................................42

B MESSAGE INTRODUCTTU S. ................................ 51

C THE RECORDED NESSAC . .................................. 53

D POST AESSAGE SCRIPT ................................. 55

E COMPLETE DATA SET .................................... 58

REFERENCES ....... ..................................... 60

!IOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .................................... 64


iv



















Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the
Graduate School of the University of Florida
in Partial fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



EFFECTS OF EXPERTISE AND ISSUE
INVOLVEMENT ON REHABILITATION COUNSELORS IN
THE SELECTION OF COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY FOR THEIR CLIENTS

BY

ROBERT WARREN CARTER

May, 1989


Chairman: Dr. Greg J. Neimeyer Major Department: Psychology



Utilizing the Elaboration Likelihood Model of

persuasion, the present study investigated the influence of issue involvement and source credibility upon the cognitive processing of a recorded message favoring the use of specialized computer technology for blind people. Study participants were 70 rehabilitation counselors. Half of the participants were employed by the Florida Division of Blind

Services and were categorized as high involvement subjects. The rest worked for the Florida Department of Vocational Rehabilitation and were categorized as low involvement subjects.


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Level of source credibilitv was manipulated during the introduction of the recorded message. mlf of the subjects :ere told that the message was prepared by an expert in the field of computers for blind people and half of the subjects were told that the recorded message was prepared by a high school student.

The Elaboration Likelihood Model predicted that highly involved subjects would generate more thoughts about computer technology after hearing the message than would low involved subjects. Additionally, it was predicted that low involved subjects would be more influenced by the

highly credible message introduction than would high involved subjects.

Results of the 2 x 2 analyses of variance on cognitive response and behavioral intention ratings did not support these predictions. Regarding the generation of thoughts, there was a trend toward the generation of more thoughts by high involved subjects than low involved subjects. The trend was not strong enough to be considered statistically significant. There was no significant difference between the high and low involvement subjects regarding behavioral intention. Likewise, the level of source credibility had no more influence on the low involvement group than on the high involvement subjects. Some possible reasons for these findings as well as suggestions for future research are provided.


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CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION



In 1977 an unknown company called Apple Computers Inc. began selling a device called the Apple II computer. The Apple II was an immediate success and a new industry called the personal computer industry was born. In his book entitled Megatrends, Naisbitt (1982) conservatively estimated that by 1990, 60 percent of all jobs in the U.S. would involve the use of a computer. As Scadden (1984) points out, our society has moved out of the industrial age and into the information age. There are more white-collar than blue-collar workers in the U.S. The majority of these white-collar workers are in the business of processing information of one kind or another. By far, the most widely used tool in information processing is the microcomputer. Logically, the person who does not know how to operate a computer is going to have difficulty finding gainful employment in the years ahead.

Like able bodied people, disabled people have benefitted from the use of computer technology. In particular, blind people who prior to the microcomputer relied on radio, television, talking books, tape


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recordings, braille, and sighted readers for information, now have access to databases, newspapers, electronic mail, home shopping, and much more (McWilliams, 1984). In addition to having access to computerized information, McWilliams (1984) points out that blind people now have a writing tool that enables the blind person to independently write, edit, and proofread his or her own work. Before the word processor, blind people used braille for writing and proofreading. Braille cannot be easily edited because once dots have been embossed onto the page they cannot be changed. Further, most sighted people cannot read braille so work could not be shared easily with others. To produce work for sighted teachers, colleagues, and supervisors, blind people used a regular typewriter. Touch typing is no problem for a blind person, but not being able to read what one types is a problem. With the proper computer equipment, blind people can easily proofread what they write.

Unfortunately, computing is more complicated for blind than for sighted people. In 1984 William De L'aune suggested that computer users needed no more understanding of how a computer works to operate one than does a truck driver need to know what is going on under the hood of his truck to successfully drive it. This analogy is more appropriate for the sighted computer user than for the blind user. The sighted user need only worry about the computer's keyboard or mouse, the CRT screen, and the








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particular program that is running (e.g., word processor spreadsheet or database). Things are more complicated for the blind user because of not being able to see the computer's CRT screen. Special devices that have become known as sensory aids or access technology must be substituted for the screen (McWilliams, 1984; Scadden 1984). These specialized devices either produce synthetic speech or some form of braille output. The blind user must learn to operate this speech or braille device in addition to learning to use the desired application program. The typical computer sales person is not likely to be familiar with these specialized access devices so blind computer users find themselves needing to learn a great deal about computers just to get their braille or speech device successfully interfaced with their computer. In a 1985 article, Harvey Lauer and Leonard Mowinski explain that to successfully make use of a braille or speech output device, it is often necessary for blind people to learn their computer's disk operating system (DOS). In contrast, most sighted computer users know little or nothing about their computer's DOS. To learn DOS, one must read and understand complex technical information. Obtaining access to these critically important computer manuals is a problem for blind people because only a tiny fraction of the technical information that is available in print has been either translated into braille or recorded onto audio tape. A few








4


computer companies have done a good job of providing high-quality documentation in formats such as braille, audio tape and disk to blind people. Much more needs to be done in this area.

An equally perplexing problem for blind people is the fact that many are either unemployed or underemployed, thereby rendering the purchase of computers and access technology impossible. In an article entitled "New Chances for Blind Workers," Croft (1985) stated that while computer technology is helping some blind people in employment, 70 percent of the employable blind people in the U.S. are unemployed. Many unemployed blind people need computer technology, which they cannot afford, to increase their career options.

Fortunately, Title I of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires every state to provide a planned program of vocational rehabilitation to all eligible disabled persons (Mendelson, 1987). Within the vocational rehabilitation framework of each state is an agency that is set up specifically to work with blind and visually impaired people. These agencies are usually called either "Commissions for the Blind" or "Divisions of Blind Services." In Florida, the agency that is responsible for serving blind and visually impaired people is the "Florida Division of Blind Services." As mentioned earlier, to receive services from the Florida Division of Blind








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Services, a potential client must be evaluated to determine whether or not he or she is eligible for services. A major component of the evaluation process for blind people is to determine whether or not the person is potentially employable at the end of the rehabilitation program. Once a client has been declared eligible for services, federal guidelines require that the Division of Blind Services develop an "Individualized Written Rehabilitation Program (IWRP)" (Mendelson, 1987). In theory, Division of Blind Services counselors work directly with a client to develop the client's IWRP. In practice, however, because of high case loads and too much paperwork, many counselors hurriedly fill out the IWRP paperwork and place it in the client's folder without much direct input from the client. According to Mendelson (1987), many clients are surprised to find that they have an IWRP.

The Individualized Written Rehabilitation Program is of critical importance because it specifies exactly which services the Division of Blind Services will provide to a client. These services include the purchase of any equipment that the counselor and client determine to be necessary. Typically, equipment such as braillewriters, typewriters, and tape recorders have been provided to clients. Because of a lack of familiarity and understanding, high cost, and their nontraditional mode of operation, blindness agencies do not routinely purchase








6


computer technology for their clients. Yet, as the number of jobs that require access to a computer increase, and as more blind people learn the personal, educational, and vocational value of technology, counselors are being placed in a difficult position of having to make decisions about the purchase of computer technology for their clients.

Counselors are in a difficult position for several reasons. First, most counselors have expertise in human relations and communications and not in the ever-changing field of computer technology. Second, there are a number of companies that are selling hardware and software designed to allow blind people access to computers. Many of these products are similar but they are not identical. Third, there is the issue of individual preferences on the part of clients. Because of different needs, abilities, and goals, clients may prefer one product over another. Because neither counselors nor clients are capable of making informed decisions about technology, some states are beginning to employ high technology specialists to work as consultants H. J. Scott (personal communication, August 1, 1988). There are very few of these consultants, however, and the final responsibility regarding technology still rests with the Division of Blind Services counselor. In the state of Florida, for example, it is the Florida Division of Blind Services counselor who bears the ultimate decision making responsibility regarding the purchase and








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implementation of computer technology. For this reason, it is important to gain an understanding of how these counselors process information about computer technology for their clients.

The purpose of this study was to investigate how a randomly selected ,roup of rehabilitation counselors psychologically process the information contained in a statement about computer technology for blind people. A model of information processing and persuasion developed by Petty and Cacioppo (1981a) called the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) was used. This model will be explained in detail in the next chapter.

















CHAPTER II
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE



The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) is an attempt to bring the many conflicting theories of attitude change and persuasion into one cohesive theoretical framework (Petty & Cacioppo, 1981a). In the ELM, Petty and Cacioppo suggest that there are two distinct routes to persuasion. First, there is the central route. Persuasion occurs via the central route when the likelihood of message elaboration is particularly high as, for example, when the recipient of a message carefully scrutinizes and critically evaluates the true merits of the information contained in the message. Second, there is the peripheral route to persuasion. The peripheral route operates when a person is unable or unmotivated to engage in careful message scrutiny. In this case, individuals are unlikely to participate in message elaboration, instead appealing to a simple cognitive heuristic or cue in the environment to determine their attitudes. For example, one may choose a particular product because of the attractiveness of the person advertising the product without paying much attention to the true merits of the product itself. After


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reviewing the relevant literature, Petty (1977) concluded that the central route to persuasion appeared to be more enduring over time than did persuasion which occurred via the peripheral route. This is probably due to the fact that more effortful thinking is utilized when information is processed via the central route.

To test the idea of elaboration likelihood and to empirically validate the existence of central and peripheral routes to persuasion, researchers used argument quality manipulations under high and low relevance conditions. Researchers created high relevance conditions by leading subjects to believe that a message had immediate personal consequences for them. In low relevance conditions, subjects received messages that did not have immediate personal consequences. According to the ELM, subjects in the high relevance condition should follow the central route to persuasion while subjects in the low relevance condition should use the peripheral route.

Petty, Cacioppo and Goldman (1981) designed a study in which they manipulated personal relevance, argument quality, and source credibility. In this study, college students were exposed to an appeal stating that college seniors should be required to take comprehensive exams prior to graduation. Students in the high relevance condition were led to believe that the comprehensive exams would begin the next year and therefore affect them








10


directly. Students in the low relevance condition were told that the exam policy would begin in ten years. Half of the students heard eight strong arguments and the other half heard eight weak arguments. Further, half of the subjects were told that the message emanated from a highly credible source, a Princeton University Professor. The other half of the subjects were told that the message was created by a high school student, a source with low credibility. Analysis of the data yielded two significant interactions. A relevance x message quality interaction demonstrated that message quality was a more important determinant of persuasion for subjects in the high relevance than in the low relevance conditions. A relevance x source credibility interaction showed that the peripheral cue of source credibility was a more important determinant of persuasion for people in the low relevance condition. In essence, subjects in the high relevance condition expended more mental energy in a careful elaboration of the content of the message. As predicted by the ELM, these subjects used the central route to persuasion. Subjects in the low relevance condition, on the other hand, did not mentally elaborate on the message but focused on the peripheral cue of source credibility instead. They relied on the peripheral route to persuasion. This study illustrates the link between the likelihood of mental elaboration and the route to persuasion.








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It should be pointed out that there are many other peripheral cues that can influence the likelihood of elaboration aside from source credibility. In fact, when mental elaboration is low, such things as the length of a message or the number of arguments contained in a message can become a peripheral cue.

To test this notion, Petty and Cacioppo (1984)

conducted two studies. The first study was similar to the previously described Petty, Cacioppo and Goldman (1981) study in that subjects were presented with a message about the implementation of senior comprehensive exams. They used the same personal relevance manipulation as in the 1981 study; however, the number of arguments that subjects received was different. Subjects were divided into four groups. One group received three strong arguments, a second group received three weak arguments, a third received nine strong arguments, and the fourth group received nine weak arguments. Attitude ratings indicated that the number of arguments was a more important factor of persuasion in the low relevance than in the high relevance condition. Argument quality, on the other hand, was a more important source of persuasion in the high relevance than in the low relevance condition.

In their second experiment Petty and Cacioppo (1984) presented students with a message about increasing university tuition. Personal relevance was manipulated by








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telling half the subjects that the increase would take place at their own university while the other half were told that the increase was to take place at a distant North Carolina university. Three different messages about a tuition increase were presented. One contained three strong arguments, one used three weak arguments, and one was filled with six arguments (three strong and three weak). When the results of the study were analyzed, in the high relevance condition the three strong arguments yielded more agreement with the argument for tuition increase than did the three weak arguments. In the low relevance condition, however, the message with six arguments yielded the most agreement. The three strong arguments and the three weak arguments came in second and third respectively. In sum, the number of arguments was more important under low relevance conditions, but argument quality was most important under conditions of high relevance.

These studies clearly suggest that there are two

distinct routes to persuasion and that it is possible to manipulate elaboration likelihood.

In reality, the central and peripheral routes to

persuasion sit at either end of a continuum. People have varying degrees of motivation and ability to critically evaluate the cogency and validity of a given argument or statement. Under certain conditions, the likelihood of carefully scrutinizing or elaborating upon the content of a








13


message is high, while under different conditions the

likelihood of carefully evaluating or elaborating upon the

content of a message is low. The Elaboration Likelihood

Model allows one to predict the likelihood of elaboration

upon a message given a particular set of conditions.

In 1986 Petty and Cacioppo published an article which

reviewed the rationale for and the development of the

Elaboration Likelihood Model. Petty and Cacioppo described

the major components of the ELM in postulate form.

1. People are motivated to hold correct attitudes
(p. 127).

2. Although people want to hold correct
attitudes, the amount and nature of
issue-relevant elaboration in which people are willing or able to engage to evaluate a message vary with individual and situational factors (p.
128).

3. Variables can affect the amount and direction of attitude change by: (A) serving as persuasive
arguments, (B) serving as peripheral cues, and/or
(C) affecting the extent or direction of issue
and argument elaboration (p. 132).

4. Affecting motivation and/or ability to process a message in a relatively objective manner can do
so by either enhancing or reducing argument
scrutiny (p. 138).

5. As motivation and/or ability to process
arguments is decreased, peripheral cues become
relatively more important determinants of
persuasion. Conversely, as argument scrutiny is
increased, peripheral cues become relatively less
important determinants of persuasion (p. 152).

6. Variables affecting message processing in a
relatively biased manner can produce either a positive (favorable) or negative (unfavorable)
motivational and/or ability bias to the
issue-relevant thoughts attempted (p. 163).








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7. Attitude changes that result mostly from processing issue-relevant arguments (central
route) will show greater temporal persistence,
greater prediction of behavior, and greater
resistance to counterpersuasion than attitude
changes that result mostly from peripheral cues
(p. 175).

While a review of the empirical evidence in support of each of these postulates is beyond the scope of this paper, empirical evidence relating to the postulates that are particularly germane to this study will be reviewed in the remaining sections of this chapter.

Effect of Personal Relevance and Level
of Involvement on Information Processing and Persuasion

As mentioned earlier, the extent to which the content of a message is likely to be elaborated upon depends on how motivated the message recipient is to carefully and thoughtfully scrutinize the information contained within the message. An important predictor of elaboration likelihood is the degree to which the message has personal relevance for the recipient. The construct of personal relevance has been referred to by social psychologists as "ego-involvement" (Rhine & Severance, 1970; Sherif, Sherif, & Nebergall, 1965), "issue involvement" (Kiesler, Collins, & Miller, 1969), "personal involvement" (Apsler & Sears, 1968; Sherif, Kelly, Rodgers, Sarup, & Tittler, 1973), and "vested interest" (Sivacek & Crano, 1982). Other names have been used in the literature as well. Petty and Cacioppo (1986) give the following definition of "personal








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relevance". Personal relevance is "the extent to which an advocacy has 'intrinsic importance' (Sherif & Hovland, 1961) or 'personal meaning' (Sherif et al., 1973)" (p. 145). Sherif and Hovland (1961) and Miller (1965) found that an increase of personal involvement was associated with resistance to persuasion. Sherif et al. (1965) attempted to explain this finding in terms of Social Judgment Theory. Basically a two-stage model, Social Judgment Theory suggests that (1) One makes judgments about the positions that are advocated in a persuasive message based on one's own position, and (2) attitude change either does or does not occur depending upon the degree of discrepancy between the position advocated in the message and one's own position. In essence, Social Judgment Theory hypothesizes that individuals use their already formulated positions on an issue to judge new positions. Further, there is assumed to be a relationship between a person's level of involvement with an issue and the strength of their already formulated position on that issue. In other words, the more highly involved a person is with an issue the less likely he or she is to be persuaded by the introduction of a new position on the issue.

The Elaboration Likelihood Model proposes a different theory regarding personal relevance and persuasion. Petty and Cacioppo (1979) explain that as personal relevance increases, people become more motivated to centrally








16


process the issue relevant arguments in a message. Because the consequences of being incorrect about an important message are high, people are likely to be more motivated to invest in the cognitive work that is necessary to critically evaluate the validity of a message. Further, Petty and Cacioppo hypothesized that when a highly relevant message advocates a position that differs from the position held by the message recipient (counterattitudinal message), the recipient should be more motivated and better able to generate counterarguments than should people for whom the message has low relevance. On the other hand, when the message is in agreement with the opinions of the recipient (proattitudinal message), more elaboration on the strength of the arguments should take place with high relevance subjects.

Petty, Cacioppo, and others have successfully

demonstrated that as personal involvement increases so does the likelihood of cognitive elaboration. The following is a description of one such study. In this experiment, Petty and Cacioppo (1979) presented undergraduate students with either a proattitudinal message favoring increased coed visitation or a counterattitudinal message supporting a decrease in coed visitation. Message relevance was manipulated by telling half of the subjects that the advocated position pertained to their university and the other half were told that the information pertained to a








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distant community college. results of the study yielded a message direction quality x relevance interaction concerning subjects' attitudes about a chance in coed visitation. In the high relevance condition, the counterattitudinal and weak message led to decreased acceptance. Uhen the message was proattitudinal and strong, the high relevance condition led to increased acceptance.

This study supports the ELM hypothesis that increased personal relevance leads to more careful scrutiny of a message. These findings were replicated by Petty, Cacioppo, and Ieesacker (1981) and again by Petty and Cacioppo (1984). Even though it is clear that increased involvement leads to more effortful processing, Petty and Cacioppo (1986) describe three potential problems which may occur as personal relevance increases.

1. There may be some situations in which issues are so closely associated with core values that information processing either stops or becomes biased to protect the ego (Ostrom & Brock, 1968; Creenwald, 1980, 1981).

2. Increased personal relevance is linked with prior thinking about an issue. Because people may be better prepared to defend their beliefs due to prior thinking, they may be less susceptible to counterattitudinal appeals. Additionally, people who have thought about an issue many times may be less likely to process new arguments because they may feel that they have already considered all of the important arguments.

3. While it is possible to generate arguments which are clearly positive or negative in the laboratory, arguments are not so clear in the real world.

Even though these real world factors make testing the relationship between personal relevance and increased








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elaboration more difficult, it should be remembered that the ELM views elaboration likelihood on a continuum and can be used to track the relationship between personal relevance and increased processing along that continuum.

The Effect of Peripheral Cues on
Information Processing and Persuasion

In the previous section of this paper, information was cited suggesting that subjects were highly motivated to process information about issues which had personal relevance for them. This section explores what happens when one's ability or motivation to process information is low. Petty and Cacioppo (1981a) hypothesized that as motivation to process information decreases, peripheral cues become more important.

To test this hypothesis, Petty and Cacioppo examined the impact of peripheral cues on information processing in high and low relevance conditions. One of the first experiments designed to test this hypothesis was the previously described Petty, Cacioppo, and Goldman (1981) study advocating that college seniors be required to take comprehensive exams prior to graduation. A relevance x source expertise interaction indicated that the source cue was a more important determinant of attitudes for subjects in the low than in the high relevance condition.

In an attempt to conceptually replicate this study, Petty, Cacioppo, and Schumann (1983) asked undergraduate college students to examine a booklet containing twelve








19

advertisements. Each ad began with a written description of the product that was being advertised. The booklet contained both familiar and unfamiliar advertisements. The most important ad was for a nonexistent product called Edge disposable razors. Petty et al., (1983) manipulated the personal relevance for this product in two ways. First, subjects in the high relevance group were told that Edge disposable razors would soon be available in their community. Additionally, they were told that they could have a free disposable razor at the end of the experiment. Subjects in the low relevance condition were told that Edge disposable razors would be sold only in a distant state. They were told that they would be offered a free tube of toothpaste at the end of the experiment. Four versions of the Edge disposable razor ad were created. Two of the ads featured photographs of sports celebrities, and the other two had middle-aged citizens endorsing the product. In a final manipulation, two of the ads contained six persuasive statements about the product (e.g., handle is tapered and ribbed to prevent slipping). Two of the ads contained six weak statements (e.g., designed with the bathroom in mind).

When subjects' attitudes were analyzed, two

significant interactions were found. A relevance x message quality interaction suggested that argument quality was a more important determinant of product attitude in the high than in the low relevance condition. This finding








20


replicates the Petty, Cacioppo, and Goldman (1981) study. Second, a relevance x product endorser interaction indicated that the status of the product endorser was a more important determinant of attitude in the low relevance than in the high relevance condition. Again, this study lends support to the idea that a peripheral cue, in this case source credibility, has an increasing influence on persuasion as motivation to process a message decreases.

The Effect of Prior Knowledge on
Information Processing and Persuasion

An extremely important consideration in the

investigation of information processing is whether or not individuals have prior knowledge about the issue that is under consideration (Srull, 1983). Since, in most instances, persons with prior knowledge about an issue have opinions about that issue, prior knowledge usually leads to a biased examination of new information (Taylor P- Fiske, 1984). The more prior knowledge that people have, the better they tend to be at counterarguing with information that differs from their already formulated opinions. On the other hand, when information is presented that supports their already formulated opinions, people are better able to produce arguments supporting their position (Lord, Ross, & Lepper, 1979).

In an effort to test the effect of prior knowledge on information processing, Cacioppo, Petty, and Sidera (1982) conducted the following experiment. First, two groups of








21


students who attended a Catholic university were identified. One group was categorized as possessing a religious self-schema and the other was categorized as possessing a legalistic self-schema. Next, the participants received either a legalistic or religious oriented message which agreed with their own opinion against governmental support of abortion. An analysis of the data yielded a schema type x message type interaction. The subjects who had a legalistic self-schema viewed the legalistic message as being more persuasive and those possessing a religious self-schema were persuaded more by the religious arguments. Further, the study participants produced more topic relevant thoughts when the message was compatible with their own self-schema and fewer thoughts when the message was incompatible. This study illustrates the fact that prior knowledge does influence the processing of information.

To test the theory that prior knowledge increases one's ability to counterargue when presented with an opposing opinion, Wood (1982) asked subjects to list their beliefs about environmental preservation. Using a median split, derived from the number of beliefs listed, subjects were placed in either a high or low belief retrieval group. About two weeks later, subjects returned and read a counterattitudinal message arguing against environmental preservation. Next, subjects reported their attitudes and








22


thoughts. Subjects with high prior knowledge changed less in the direction of the message than did those with low prior knowledge. In addition, subjects with high prior knowledge generated more counterarguments against the message than did the subjects with low prior knowledge.

The Present Study

The purpose of the present study was to test the relevance of the Elaboration Likelihood Model as a predictor of attitude formation about computer technology for blind people. In this study, the independent variables included two levels of involvement (high and low) and two levels of source credibility or expertise (high and low). The dependent variables included a cognitive response measure and a measure of behavioral intention (see the method section of this paper for details).

The two levels of involvement x two levels of source credibility research design has been utilized throughout the development and validation of the ELM (Petty and Cacioppo, 1981a; Stoltenberg and M1cNeill, 1984). In this study, subjects who worked directly with blind clients were assigned to the high involvement category. Subjects who did not work directly with blind clients were placed in the low involvement group. The subjects were similar in that they all worked as vocational rehabilitation counselors with disabled individuals.










Source cref i4ility was experimentally maniPulated by

informing half of the subjects that they would be listening to a brief message advocating computer technology for blind people prepared by a computer technology specialist. The other half of the subjects were told that the message was prepared by a high school student (see appendix B). All subjects heard the same message (see appendix C).

The Elaboration Likelihood ;Iodel allows for the formulation of the following research hypotheses:

1. Subjects who are in the high involvement condition will more critically evaluate and more carefully scrutinize the content of the message than will subjects in the low involvement condition. For this reason, highly involved subjects will be less influenced by the peripheral cue of source credibility than will low involvement subjects.

2. Highly involved subjects will list more positive thoughts, exhibit a more positive attitude and be more inclined to modify their behavior regarding computer technology for blind people than will subjects in the low involvement condition.

















CHAPTER III
MET I1ODS





Subjects

In order to test these hypotheses, a total of 70

subjects were selected to participate in this study. They were a random mixture of males and females. All of the participants were rehabilitation counselors. Half of them were employed by the Florida Division of Blind Services and the rest were employed by the state of Florida's Vocational Rehabilitation program.

Independent Variables

Involvement

Involvement levels were manipulated dispositionally according to counselor's case load population. Specifically, half of the participants in the study were counselors who worked for the Florida Division of Blind Services and therefore worked with blind and visually impaired clients. The remainder of the counselors worked with the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, but

did not work with blind clients. In essence, level of involvement was high for counselors who worked with blind

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people and low for counselors who did not. This assumption was, however, tested by administering a number of pretest items designed to assess subjects' familiarity with

computer technology for blind people (see Appendix A). Source Credibility

Source credibility was manipulated by informing half of the subjects that they would listen to information prepared by a Ph.D. in electrical engineering who developed computer products for blind people (high credibility). The other half of the subjects were told that they would listen to information prepared by a high school student who wrote a term paper on computers for disabled people (low credibility)--See Appendix B for details. This method of

manipulating source credibility is often used in the ELM literature (cf. Heesacker, 1986) and its effectiveness was determined with a manipulation check.

Message Development

In developing the message, the researcher wanted to formulate a moderately strong appeal favoring computer technology for blind people. In the creation of this message, the researcher wanted to avoid a robustly convincing argument which might inadvertently enhance involvement or grossly restrict counterargument. At the same time, a universally weak message was equally undesirable. As demonstrated through pilot testing, the moderately favorable message that was developed permitted








26


pro- and counterargumentation while at the same time recreating the kind of mixed quality information about computers for blind people that exists in the real world (see Appendix C). The message that was used in the study was developed by following Petty and Cacioppo's (1981a,b;1986) three step procedure. First, the researcher developed an extensive list of both strong and weak arguments having to do with computer technology for blind people. An example of a strong argument was: "Blind computer users can compete with sighted workers for jobs that, prior to the advent of the computer, were not available to blind persons." A moderate or weak argument was: "The blind computer user can utilize the computer to provide increased recreational and leisure-time activities." Next, the arguments were combined into a one-page statement expressing both strong and moderate to weak arguments regarding computer technology for blind people. Finally, to test the strength of the arguments, 64 undergraduate students were asked to listen to the statement and to complete a thought listing procedure (Petty and Cacioppo, 1981a). After hearing the statement, subjects were asked to take three minutes to list their thoughts. They were then asked to post-code each thought. For thoughts in favor of computer technology for blind people, subjects used a plus sign. For unfavorable thoughts a minus sign was used, and for neutral thoughts a zero was








27


employed. This post-coding procedure is commonly used (Cacioppo and Petty, 1981). Petty and Cacioppo (1979) found this practice to be as reliable as independent judge coding.

Out of 64 subjects a total of 269 thoughts were

listed: 45 percent were positive, 20 percent negative, and 34 percent neutral. Thus, we were successful in creating a moderately favorable appeal that encourages primarily, but not exclusively, proattitudinal thinking.

Dependent Variables and Procedures

All of the rehabilitation counselors who were employed by the Florida Division of Blind Services and counselors in the Gainesville and Tallahassee districts who worked with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation received general descriptions of the study. These descriptions were prepared by the researcher and distributed to the counselors by their supervisors. The researcher contacted the counselors by teleDhone to ask them to participate in a twenty-minute telephone interview. If the counselor agreed to participate, a convenient time for the interview was agreed upon.

The Telephone Interview

The telephone interview began with the researcher thanking the subject for agreeing to partici ate in the study. Next the researcher briefly outlined what would take place during the interview. First, participants were asked








28


to supply some -eneral demographic information and to answer a few questions regarding their knowledge of and involvement with computer technology designed for blind and visually impaired people. Subjects were asked to respond to five questions designed to gather such demographic information as level of education, present employment, age, and sex.

Subjects were then asked four questions designed to

assess their level of involvement with computer technology for blind people (see Appendix A). After answering these questions, the study participants were asked to listen to a recorded statement about computer technology for blind people. Immediately before hearing the tape, half of the participants were told that the recorded message was prepared by an expert in the field of computers for blind people, and half of the subjects were told that the

statement was prepared by a high school student who had written a term paper on computers. After listening to the tape, the counselors were asked to answer a few questions about their reactions and thoughts while listening to the recording. Subjects were told that there are no right or

wrong answers and that we are only interested in their opinions. They were told that their answers would be recorded on tape, but that their name would not appear on the tape, thereby ensuring confidentiality. Vhen the recorded statement was finished, -he researcher asked the








29


subjects to use a seven-point Likert scale to answer eight questions. Five of the questions were designed to serve as manipulationn checks (i.e., level of involvement and source credibility), and three questions were designed to test dependent variables (i.e., cognitive response and behavioral intentions). The questions were designed to assess the participant's attitudes regarding the statement (e.g., How would you rate the quality of the arguments used by the speaker in support of the advocated topic?), level of involvement with the issue (e.g., How relevant was the message for you?), degree of source credibility (e.g., How qualified did you feel that the speaker was to discuss the topic?), level of cognitive response (e.g., To what extent did the tape hold your attention?), and behavioral intention (e.g., How likely would you be to recommend the purchase of computer technology to a blind person?).

Finally, subjects were asked to spend two minutes

verbalizing the thoughts that they had while listening to the message. The researcher did not listen to this verbalization of thoughts, but did inform subjects when the time was up. Subjects were then thanked for participating and given the opportunity to ask any questions about the study.

Analysis

The data was analyzed using a series of 2 x 2

between-subjects ANOVAS along co-nitive response and








30


behavioral intention measures. The first factor refers to high or low levels of involvement with computer technology for blind people. The second factor refers to high or low source credibility. :Leans and standard deviations for each dependent variable across each condition are presented. Cognitive Responses

A thought listing technique developed by Petty and

Cacioppo (1981a) was used to analyze the cognitive response variable. Independent judges were used to rate subjects' thoughts as positive, negative, or neutral. Subjects in the high involvement group were predicted to have more positive thoughts than subjects in the low involvement group. Subjects in the low involvement group were predicted to have more negative and neutral thoughts than subjects in the high involvement group. Moreover, an interaction between level of involvement and source credibility was predicted for subjects in the low involvement condition. Subjects in the low involvement condition were predicted to respond more favorably to the peripheral cue of high source credibility than were subjects in the high involvement

condition.

Behavioral Intention

After hearing the message in support of computer

technology for blind people, it was predicted that subjects in the high involvement condition would be more likely to indicate that they woul d purchase computer technoloiv for








31

blind clients than would subjects in the low involvement condition. In other words, subjects in the high involvement group were predicted to score higher on a measure of behavior intention than would subjects in the low involvement group (cf. Petty & Cacioppo, 1986).

















CHAPTER IV
RESULTS



Manipulation Checks

Prior to examining whether or not the experimental

manipulations produced the desired effects on the dependent measures, the effectiveness of the experimental manipulations was determined. Manipulation checks for involvement and source credibility were built in to the study and were analyzed using a series of 2 x 2 ANOVAS. Issue Involvement

Participants who were employed by the Florida Division of Blind Services were assigned to the high involvement group because they worked with blind and visually impaired clients. Participants who were employed as vocational rehabilitation counselors were assigned to the low involvement category because they work with few visually impaired and blind clients. The researcher reasoned that differences in involvement might be reflected in four ways, so four manipulation checks to assess these differences were designed. The four manipulation checks examined the number of blind clients in each participant's case load, each participant's level of interest in and prior knowledge 32








33

about computer technology, and the personal implications of the topic for them.

All subjects were asked to specify how many blind or visually impaired clients they had in their case load. An analysis of variance indicated that Florida Division of Blind Services counselors had significantly more blind and visually impaired clients in their case loads (M=100.85) than did Vocational Rehabilitation counselors (,=1.67), F(1,69)=383.05, p<.0001 (see Tables l and 2).

To examine subjects' level of interest in computer

technology for blind people, a five-point Likert scale was used (one equaled "not at all interested" and five equaled "extremely interested"). An analysis of variance indicated that subjects in the high involvement condition showed significantly more interest in computer technology (M=4.15) than subjects in the low involvement condition (M=3.53), F(1,69)=5.74, p<.02, again indicating the predicted differences between the groups.

To assess the relationship between prior knowledge about computer technology for blind people and level of involvement, subjects were asked to rate their knowledge on a five-point Likert scale (one equaled "I know virtually nothing," and five equaled "I am an expert"). An analysis of variance indicated that subjects in the high involvement category showed significantly higher prior knowledge (M=2.53) than did subjects in the low involvement category








34


(.1=1.53) with regards to knowledge about computer technology for blind people, F(1,69)=20.19, p<.0001.

A final manipulation checir on the level of involvement was conducted after subjects listened to a recorded message. This post-message question asked, "To what extent did the taped message have implications for you personally?" Subjects used a seven-point Likert scale to answer the question; one represented "not at all relevant to me," and seven equaled "extremely relevant to me." An analysis of variance yielded a significant difference between the high and low involvement subjects regarding personal implications, F(1,69)=10.29, p<.002: high involvement M=5.62, low involvement M=4.39. Source Credibility

As a post-message manipulation check on the level of

source credibility, subjects were asked, "How qualified did you feel that the speaker was to discuss the topic?" Again, subjects utilized a seven-point Likert scale to answer the question; one represented not at all qualified, and seven equaled very qualified. An analysis of variance indicated that the experimental manipulation of source credibility was successful regarding the perceived qualifications of the author of the recorded message about computer technology for blind people, F(1,67)=5.98, p<.017: high credibility M=5.84, low credibility 1=5.03.








35


Dependent :!Measures

Data for each of the dependent measures were analyzed with between-subjects 2 x 2 ANOVAS. The independent variables were involvement and source credibility. Each independent variable had two categories which were labeled high and low. Separate analyses for cognitive response and behavioral intention measures are presented. Cognitive Response

A thought listing technique developed by Petty and

Cacioppo (1981a) was used to analyze the cognitive response variable. Independent judges were used to rate subjects' thoughts about computer technology for blind people as either positive, negative, or neutral. The Elaboration Likelihood Model allows one to make several predictions regarding the production of thoughts. The model predicts that highly involved subjects will have 1) more total thoughts, 2) more positive thoughts, and 3) fewer negative

thoughts than will subjects in the low involvement category, and further, that involvement would interact with credibility along these variables. In particular, low involvement subjects should respond more favorably under high than low credibility conditions, whereas high involvement subjects should be unaffected by source credibility.

An analysis of variance revealed a trend toward a significant main effect regarding the total number of








36


thoughts for involvement, r(1,69)=3.22, n<.07: high

involvement .=4.47, low involvement >1=3.64. There were no significant main effects for either source credibility or for the involvement x source credibility interaction.

Regarding positive thoughts, an analysis of variance

yielded no significant main effects for involvement, source credibility, or the involvement x source credibility interaction.

An analysis of variance regarding negative thoughts indicated a marginally significant :iain effect for involvement, F(1,69)=3.68, p<.06: high involvement tl=.82, low involvement M=.42. ,either source credibility nor the involvement x source credibility interaction were significant.

Behavioral Intention

The Elaboration Likelihood Model predicts that high involved subjects will score higher on a measure of behavioral intention than will subjects in the low involvement condition. To test this prediction, subjects

were asked to use a seven-point Likert scale to answer the question, "How likely would you be to recommend the purchase of computer technology for a blind person?" One equaled "not at all likely" and seven equaled "extremely likely." The analysis of variance resulted in no significant differences on the behavioral intention measure.










Table 1. Analysis of Variance for manipulation Checks and
Dependent ::easures




Source Sum of Squares df F P



Case Load 171029.70 1 383.05 .0001 Interest 6.81 1 5.74 .02 Knowledge 15.02 1 20.19 .0001 Implications 26.28 1 10.29 .002 Qualify 10.61 1 5.98 .2 Total number 12.38 1 3.22 .08 Negative 2.97 1 3.68 .06


37








Table 2. Means with Standard Deviations in Parenthesis for Manipulation Checks and
Dependent Measures




INVOLVEMENT CREDIBILITY N Case Interest Know Imps Tot No Neg Qualify


High 18 103.06 4.0 2.61 5.61 4.33 0.83 6.06 (23.39) (.97) (.70) (1.24) (2.22) (1.15) (1.11) High
Low 16 98.38 4.31 2.44 5.63 4.63 0.31 5.21 (N=14 (36.40) (.79) (1.03) (1.31) (2.13) (.98) (1.37) for
Qua 1i fy)

High 19 1.89 3.47 1.37 4.37 3.68 0.53 5.63 (3.62) (1.26) (.60) (1.86) (1.77) (.77) (1.42) Low
Low 17 1.41 3.59 1.82 4.41 3.59 .29 4
(1.91) (1.23) (1.07) (1.84) (1.70) (.59) (1.41)


Note:


Case = Case Load Know = Knowledge Imps = Implications Neans are based on a


Tot No = Total Number Neg = Negative seven-point Likert Scale.


cc

















CHAPTER V
DISCUSSION



The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effects of issue involvement and source credibility upon cognitive responses generated by a group of rehabilitation counselors who listened to a message about computer technology for blind people. The research hypotheses for this study were developed after reviewing the psychological literature on the Elaboration Likelihood Model of information processing, persuasion, and attitude change (Petty and Cacioppo, 1979).

According to Petty and Cacioppo (1986), personal relevance (e.g., issue involvement) is among the best predictors of how a message will be cognitively processed. The Elaboration Likelihood Model postulates that information is processed along a continuum with careful elaboration or central route processing at one end and a reliance on environmental cues or peripheral route processing at the other end. There is a positive correlation between the degree of personal involvement with an issue and the likelihood of carefully and critically evaluating new information regarding that issue. In other


39








40

words, the ELI theorizes that persons are willing to expend proportionately more mental energy processing information about an issue as their level of involvement with that issue increases.

The first hypothesis of the present study made two predictions. First, subjects who were highly involved in working with blind people would expend more mental energy examining information about computer technology For blind people than would subjects who had little or no involvement with blind people. Second, because highly involved subjects would more carefully evaluate the content of the recorded message about computer technology for blind people, they would be less influenced by the peripheral cue of source credibility than would subjects in the low involvement category. This involvement x source credibility interaction for the low involvement category was not observed on any of the dependent measures.

The second research hypothesis predicted that highly involved subjects would list more positive thoughts and be more likely to change their behavior regarding computer technology [or blind people than would lo.w involvement subjects. No significant differences between high and low

involvement subjects regarding either the number of positive thoughts generated or the intention to change behavior were observed.








41


hile The predicted interactions between level of

involvement and source credibility were not found, most of the expected nain effects for involvement ..ere observed. For example, after listening to the recorded message about computers for blind people, the high involvement subjects generated more overall thoughts on the issue than did low involvement subjects.

manipulationn checks designed to test the involvement categories yielded statistically significant differencess between high and low involvement as well. For example, high involvement subjects felt that the recorded message about computer technology had greater personal implications for them than did low involvement subjects. In short, it is clear that the subjects in the high involvement category differed to some extent from subjects in the low involvement category on many of the dependent measures. \'hat is unclear from the data is the degree to which high involvement subjects differed from low involvement subjects along the information processing continuum.

In the past, ELU researchers have dealt with this

problem by designing the involvement manipulation so that subjects in the high involvement category are motivated to use the central processing route and low involvement subjects are motivated to use the peripheral route. In their 1981 study, Petty, Cacioppo, and Goldman told high involvement subjects (college juniors) that in order to








42


2raLua Le, they must pass sornior comprehensive exams. Further, they were told that these exams would begin the following year affecting them directly. Low involvement subjects, on the other hand, were told that the new comprehensive exam policy would not take effect for ten years. This manipulation was designed to facilitate the processing of information at either end of the elaboration likelihood continuum. By design, the high involvement subjects used the central route to persuasion because the message had direct consequences for them. Low involvement subjects used the peripheral processing route because the exam policy did not directly affect them.

In the present study, subjects were assigned to either the high or low involvement categories based on whether or not they worked directly with blind people. The researcher assumed that counselors who worked with blind people would be more motivated to critically think about computers for blind people than would counselors who did not have blind clients in their case loads. It is possible, however, that the topic of computer technology for blind people may have been of greater interest than expected for some individuals in the low involvement category and of less interest than expected to some individuals in the high involvement group. As a result, the two groups were brought closer together on the elaboration likelihood continuum and the differences between high and low involvement subjects were probably








43

moderate rather than extreme. Thus, the distinction between central and peripheral route processing as measured by level of involvement was less robust in the present study than in the Petty, Cacioppo, and Goldman (1921) study.

The fact that the predicted source credibility x level of involvement interaction did not occur suggests that the low involvement subjects were mentally elaborating upon the recorded message as opposed to relying on a peripheral cue. Even though the two groups differed regarding decree of involvement, both groups were processing the information contained in the recorded message via the central route. Since both groups used the central processing route, the Elaboration Likelihood Model was incapable of detecting any difference between the two groups. The model's inability to pinpoint exactly where information processing is taking place along the central/peripheral route raises questions about the ELM's effectiveness in situations where the two groups are not located at opposite ends of the continuum.

There are a number of methodological and topic related reasons why participants in the low involvement category may have been more willing to engage in effortful thinking about computers for blind people than expected. Likewise, there are some possible explanations for why subjects in the high involvement group may have tended to engage in less critical thinking about computers for blind people.








44


All participants listened to the same moderately

strong recorded message in support of computer technology for blind people. The message was designed to provide general information about the technology (similar to the Kind of information that rehabilitation counselors are likely to read in rehabilitation journals or receive in the mail). Since the message dealt specifically with technology for blind people, it is likely that the Florida Division of Blind Services counselors would have more -eneral familiarity with the issues that were discussed than would the Vocational Rehabilitation counselors. According to Taylor and Fiske (1984), prior knowledge about an issue usually leads to biased processing. People who have prior knowledge have probably formulated opinions about the issue. These prior opinions interfere with the processing of new information in a number of ways. Lord, Ross, and Lepper (1979) argued that when new information is in agreement with opinions that were formulated because of prior knowledge, people are better able to produce arguments favoring that position. On the other hand, when new information opposes already formulated opinions, people are better able to produce arguments against the new information. Finally, Petty and Cacioppo (1986) pointed out that prior knowledge can result in individuals choosing not to elaborate on new information because they may believe that they already know all they wish to know about the








45


issue. In short, 'iased processing due to prior knowledge may have prevented a number of blind services counselors from objectively processing the information that ,:as presented in the recorded message.

In contrast, for many Vocational Rehabilitation counselors the message content may have been new and exciting. In support of this possibility is the postmessage data concerning subjects' reported levels of attention to

the message. Subjects in both high and low involvement categories scored high on the seven-point attention scale (M=5.6 and 5.8, respectively). Thus, Vocational Rehabilitation counselors may have been motivated to critically think about the information. U'hen asked to list their thoughts after hearing the message, a number of Vocational Rehabilitation counselors wondered whether similar technology was available for persons with disabilities other than blindness. It is clear that these Vocational Rehabilitation counselors were cognitively elaborating upon the content of the message.

Future Considerations

In recent years, the Elaboration Likelihood Yodel has been used to investigate how individuals process information in a variety of settings. In 1983, Petty Cacioppo and Schumann utilized the ELM to investigate how individuals processed information about a consumer product called Edge disposable razors. lore recently, Stoltenberg








46


and :c1eil (1984) and 7eesacker (1986) utilized the EL:I in counseling research. The present study used the ELM to investigate how rehabilitation counselors process consumer oriented information about computer technology for blind people. Because of its success in consumer oriented and counseling research, the ELM was the information processing model of choice. Unfortunately, the present study failed to replicate a number of important ELN predictions. If future researchers wish to use the ELM to investigate how counselors process information about computer technology for blind people, certain factors must be considered.

First, future researchers must deal with the

aforementioned problems with issue involvement. To insure that there is more than a moderate difference between the two levels of involvement, counselors who do not work with disabled people should be selected to participate in the low involvement group. It is likely that the Vocational Rehabilitation counselors in the present study tended to elaborate more on the message because of their involvement with disabled people than would counselors who do not

specialize in working with this population.

Second, manipulating source credibility by indicating that the recorded message was prepared by either a high school student or a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering did not work well as a peripheral cue. In future research more universally meaningful peripheral cues such as popular








47


'-rand names or celebrity endorsers should he used.

Third, it is necessary to rminimize the likelihood of biased processing. A pre-experimental assessment of study participants level of prior knowledge about computer technology for blind people would enable the researcher to select study participants who have little or no prior knowledge.

Fourth, it would be desirable to design the recorded message so that it would specifically direct high involvement subjects to engage in more effortful thinking. The message should be pilot tested on a selected group of Blind Services counselors to determine their level of familiarity with the content. It is likely that redesigning the message would help reduce the problems with prior knowledge as well.

In summary, the present study attempted to utilize the EL:I to investigate a previously unexamined topic. Although research has applied this model to consumer and counseling contexts, no work to date has combined both. This study is the first to explore both areas simultaneously by examining how counselors process consumer oriented information.

















APPENDIX A
PRETEST SCRIPT



I would like to begin this interview by thanking you for agreeing to participate in this study. The interview will take about twenty minutes and will consist of three basic components. First, I will ask you for some general demographic information about yourself as well as a few questions regarding your knowledge of and involvement with computer technology designed for blind and visually impaired people. Second, I will ask you to listen to a brief audio tape about computer technology for blind and visually impaired people. Finally, after you have listened to the tape, I will as,. you to answer a few questions about what you heard. There are no right or wrong answers. Please be as honest as you can. I am just interested in your own opinions. I will provide you with step by step instructions as we go. Your responses are being recorded on an audio tape. Please speak in a normal but clear voice into your telephone. Do you have any questions before we begin the interview?


48








49


Demographic Infornation

1. 'hat is your present level of education?

2. Vhat is your current job title? 3'. :OW lon( :ave you been employed in your present position?

4. Vhat is your age?

5. Are you male or female?



Level of Involvement Measures

1. Now many blind or visually impaired clients do you have in your case load?

Throughout the remainder of the interview, I will ask you to select your answers from a range of numbers along a rating scale. Please choose any number along the continuum that best answers the question for you.

2. On a scale of one to five, with one representing no interest and five representing extremely interested, how interested are you in computer technology for blind and visually impaired people?

3. On a scale of one to five, with one representing I know virtually nothing, and five representing I am an expert, how much do you know about computer technology for blind and visually impaired people?

4. On a scale of one to five, with one representing strongly disagree, and five representing strongly agree, how much do you agree with the following statement?:








50

computer technology will allow blind and visually impaired people to break down educational, vocational, and societal barriers.

5. On a one to five scale, with one representing almost never, and five representing nearly everyday, how many times a week do you use a word processor?

















APPENDIX B
MESSAGE INTRODUCTIONS

High Credibility Message Introduction

The information that you are about to hear was excerpted from a speech given by Dr. Jack Carson, a rehabilitation engineer, who specializes in the selection, development, and implementation of computer technology for blind and visually impaired people.

While completing a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, Dr. Carson became interested in designing and building computerized devices that would give blind people access to computers even if they could not see the computer's screen. In 1986 he developed a portable talking computer which is widely used by blind people throughout the world.

Dr. Carson also enjoys a national reputation as a

rehabilitation technology consultant. He frequently works with rehabilitation professionals, school systems, and potential employers of blind people to assist in the selection and implementation of computer equipment that can be used without vision.


51













Low Credibility :essage Introduction

The information that you are about to hear was

excerpted from a term paper written by Jack Carson, a high school student taking a course called "Computers In Our Society." After reading a newspaper article about blind people using computers, Jack incorporated the iFollowin-' information into his term paper.

















APPENDIX C
TIIE RECORDED MESSAGE



Computer technology has the potential to be of

tremendous educational and vocational benefit to blind people. Despite the fact that user manuals are often frustrating, equipment is expensive, and training is not always available, computer equipment opens whole new horizons to visually impaired persons.

For example, even though blind people can read

newspapers and magazines through traditional methods, for example, braille, they can read them more efficiently with a computer and have a greater variety of them available as well.

Furthermore, accessible computers make blind people more independent. Ey accessing databases such as library books, electronically recorded financial transactions and the like, the person can do more for himself or herself without being as reliant on others. This independence enhances a sense of personal autonomy and self-esteem.

A case in point is the job market. The number of jobs requiring computer skills is increasing rapidly. Computer experience enables blind people to gain employment that


53








54


would otherwise be unavailable to them. It opens a whole new horizon of vocational options.

Finally, computers enhance leisure-time activities for the blind. Beyond the occupational and personal advantages of computers, they can be fun, and computer accessibility means that the blind person can do such things as play computer names, something most of us take for granted.

In sum, computers make the world more available to the blind. By extending personal, vocational, and recreational opportunities, computer technology enhances the quality of life and we should move rapidly toward making them available for all blind individuals.

















APPENDIX D
POST PIES SAGE AEIPT



1. Utilizing a one to seven rating scale, Please rate the

following aspects of the tape:

A. Voice quality. One represents bad and seven represents

good.

B. Rate of delivery. One equals too slow and seven equals

too fast.

C. Enthusiasm for topic. One equals bad and seven equals

good.

2. To what extent did the tape hold your attention? One

equals not at all and seven equals very much.

3. To what extent did the taped message have implications

for you personally? One equals not at all relevant to me

and seven equals extremely relevant to me.

4. How qualified did you feel that the speaker was to

discuss the topic? One equals not at all qualified and

seven equals very qualified.

5. How would you rate the quality of the arguments used by

the speaker in support of the advocated topic? One equals very poor arguments and seven equals very good arguments.

6. How many arguments did the speaker present? One, two,


55








56

three, four, five, six, or seven.

7. L!ow relevant was the message for you? One equals not at all relevant and seven equals extremely relevant. S. After listening to the message, how likely would you be

to recommend the purchase of computer technology for a

blind person? One equals not at all likely and seven equals extremely likely.








57


Thought Listing Instructions

ow I would like to -et an idea of the thoughts that crossed your mind while listening to the tape. I am interested in you reporting all thoughts that you had as you listened to the message. Please recall what went through your mind as you listened to the tape and use short concise phrases to describe your thoughts. Do not feel embarrassed to verbalize your thoughts. I will not be listening as you do this. At the end of two minutes, I will come back on to let you know when the time is up. Again, feel free to be honest and verbalize whatever thoughts you had while listening to the tape. Please begin now.





















APPENDIX E
COMPLETE DATA SET


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N 0 P O R S T U V W X Y Z


111 112 121 122 211 212 221 222 311 312 321 322
411 412 421 422 511 512 521 522 611 612 621 622 711 712 721 722 811 812 821 822 911 912 921 922 1011
1012


20
1 12
1
3
1
2
1
4
8
21
1
1
1
3
1
4 11
1
1
1
1
1
7
3
5
2
1
1
2
4
1
3
5
4
1
6
3


56
62
45 34 36
31 36 31 37
43
63 57
50
34 28
34 34 38
46
35 33 51 35
35 38
43 28 28 62 39
48 29
41 49
50 32
43
40


130
140 85
2 5
2
0
126 135
100
1
100 80
120
0
95
45
120 80 90
0
90 101 71 131 95
105
0 3 3
160 129
3
120 110
82 85 70


58











1021 1022 1111
1112 1121 1122
1211 1212 1221 1222 1311 1312 1321 1322
1411 1412 1421 1422 1511 1512 1521 1522 1611 1612 1621 1622 1711 1712 1721 1722 1811 1812


1 5 5

734 11 46 1 37 1 32
4 45 1 31 10 35 5 36 4 37 3 35
1 29 3 34
4
8 42 20 47 17 48 4 47 9 48 3 34 1 26 18 52 4 37 2 37 3 33
14 48


120 5 3 4 C 4 3 3 0 3 2 5 15 4 1 4 0 3 1 5 0 5 1 3 0 5 2 5 2 5 3 4 0 3 1 3 0 5 1 3 0 5 1 4 0 3 1 5 2 3 1 3 120 4 1 5
0 3 2 3 6 5 3 5 0 3 1 5 0 2 1 3 0 4 2 3 115 5 4 4
4 5 3 5 0 4 2 5 3 3 2 5 0 4 2 5 0 1 2 5 104 5 3 1
4 4 2 4 5 3 2 4 0 3 2 4 100 5 2 4
0 3 1 5 0 1 1 5


31


1 2 2 1 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 1 1 2 1 2


1 2 1 2 1 2 5 2 1 1
2 2 1 2 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 2 1 2 1 1

1 1
1 1


A. Subject number B. Education level C. Involvement level D. Computer expertise E. Age
F. Sex
G. Caseload H. Interest level I. Knowledge J. Opinion K. Word processing use L. Source credibility M. Voice quality


N.
0.
P.
Q.
R.
S.
T.
U.
V.
W.
X.
Y.
z.


Delivery rate Enthusiasm Attention Personal implications Speaker qualification Message quality Number of Arguments Relevance Recommendation Total thoughts Positive thoughts Negative thoughts Neutral thoughts


D 7 6 6

55 47 C3 6 7 6 7 7 5 6 7 5 5 5 6 3 5 4 7 4 6 6 6 6 7 6 5 6 5 4 5 5 4 7 6 6 1 6 6 7 5 5 4 3 4 4 7 4 6 5 2 4 5 6 7 7 7 1 7 7 5 4 3 4 2 2 3 6 4 5 6 7 3 7 7 5 6 7 6 6 7 6 4 6 6 7 7 5 6 4 7 7 7 7 7 5 5 5 5 4 3 3 4 4 3 6 6 5 6 6 6 6 5 5 5 6 6 7 7 7 6 7 7 4 6 7 4 7 6 7 5 7 7 5 6 6 4 4 5 5 4 5 5 7 5 7 7 5 7 7 3 4 4 5 7 4 4 5 6 5 6 7 6 6 5 6 7 4 3 6 6 4 5 6 6 5 7 6 4 6 6 7 7 7 6 5 7 5 5 5 5 7 5 6 6 3 6 6


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6 7 1 1 0 0 7 4 4 2 1 1 5 7 5 5 0 0 2 6 3 1 1 1 6 5 5 1 2 2 6 7 5 2 1 2 7 7 4 3 0 1 4 6 4 2 0 2 5 6 3 3 0 0 4 7 1 1 0 0 4 7 9 6 0 3 4 7 5 2 2 1 6 7 5 2 1 2
4 6 2 1 0 1 6 6 5 3 0 2 7 7 3 1 0 2 5 4 2 1 0 1 3 6 5 5 0 0
















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Cacioppo, J. T., Petty, R. E., & Sidera, J. A. (1982). The
effects of a salient self-schema on the evaluation of proattitudinal editorials: Top-down versus bottom-up
message processing. Journal of Experimental Social
Psychology, 18, 324-338.

Croft, D. L. (1985). New chances for blind workers.
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De L'aune, W. (1984). Computers: Their genesis, use and
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Greenwald, A. G. (1980). The totalitarian ego:
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Greenwald, A. G. (1981). Ego task analysis: An integration
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Heesacker, A. (1986). Counseling pretreatment and the
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Journal of Counseling Psychology, 33, 107-114.

Kiesler, C. A., Collins, B. E., & Miller, N. (1969).
Attitude change: A critical analysis of theoretical
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63
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH


Robert Harren Carter was born on January 10, 1956, in Concord, North Carolina. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1978 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In 1979 he received his ':'aster of Arts in Education in the field of guidance and counseling from Hestern Carolina University, Cullowhee, North Carolina. ie served there as a university counselor until he began his doctoral studies in counseling psychology at the University of Florida in 1983.

In August, 1988, Robert completed his predoctoral

internship at the Psychological and Vocational Counseling Center at the University of Florida.

Robert is a pioneer in the use and interfacing of

micro-processor based access technology. He lives with his wife, Vicki, who is a library technical assistant.


64









I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adecuate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.




Greg J. 'imeyer, Chariman
Associate Professor of Psychology



I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.





zr e or of ;scholo/



I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.




a Alicke
Assistant Professor of Psychology



I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.




earry A. crater
Professor of Psychology









I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.





Jes G. Joinr
Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Counseling



I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.




Mark P. Hale
Associate Professor of Mathematics



This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Department of Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate School and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.



May, 1989
Dean, Graduate School




Full Text

PAGE 1

EFFECTS OF EXPERTISE AND ISSUE INVOLVEMENT ON REHABILITATION COUNSELORS IN THE SELECTION OF COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY FOR THEIR CLIENTS By ROBERT WARREN CARTER A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 1989

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Greg Neimeyer for chairing my doctoral committee. I am grateful for his expert guidance, his enthusiasm, and the personal and professional support he has given me. I would like to thank each individual who lias served on my doctoral committee, harry Grater, Franz Epting, James Joiner, Mark Hale, and Hark Alicke have each made unique contributions to this project. I am grateful to Michelle Donahue, who carried out her responsibilities as my research assistant in a timely and efficient manner, and Donna Xitch, my statistics consultant, whose patience and creativity were invaluable. Finally, I would like to thank the staff at Raised Dot Computing for creating the software that enabled me to independently write and edit my dissertation without vision, and my wife, Vicki, for her continued support and encouragement

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TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ACKNOWLEDGE!! ABSTRACT . ;nts CHAPTERS I INTRODUCTION __ II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE g Effect of Personal Relevance and Level of Involvement on Information Processing and Persuasion 14 The Effect of Peripheral Cues on Information Processing and Persuasion #< 18 The Effect of Prior Knowledge on Information Processing and Persuasion 20 The Present Study ,., 22 III METHODS 24 Subjects ,,.,.,.,,, 24 Independent Variables 24 Involvement 24 Source Credibility 25 M essage Development 25 Dependent Variables and Procedures 27 The Telephone Interview >#j 27 Analysis 29 Cognitive Responses 4 30 Behavioral Intention a 30 IV RESULTS o 2 Manipulation Checks # ...... 32 Issue Involvement 32 Source Credibility 34 Dependent Measures 35 Cognitive Response 35 Behavioral Intention 36

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V DISCUSSION t 39 Future Considerations 45 APPENDICES A PRE-TEST SCRIPT _ 43 B MESSAGE INTRODUCTIONS si C THE RECORDED MESSAGE 53 D POST MESSAGE SCRIPT 55 E COMPLETE DATA SET 58 REFERENCES 60 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 64

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Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy EFFECTS OF EXPERTISE AND ISSUE INVOLVEMENT ON REHABILITATION COUNSELORS IN THE SELECTION OF COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY FOR THEIR CLIENTS BY ROBERT WARREN CARTER May, 198 9 Chairman: Dr. Greg J. Neimeyer Major Department: Psychology Utilizing the Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion, the present study investigated the influence of issue involvement and source credibility upon the cognitive processing of a recorded message favoring the use of specialized computer technology for blind people. Study participants were 70 rehabilitation counselors. Half of the participants were employed by the Florida Division of Blind Services and were categorized as high involvement subjects. The rest worked for the Florida Department of Vocational Rehabilitation and were categorizeo as low involvement subjects.

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Level of source credibility was manipulated during the introduction of the recorded message, "a If of the subjects were told that the message was prepared by an expert in the field of computers for blind people and half of the subjects were told that the recorded message was prepared by a high school student. The Elaboration Likelihood Model predicted that highly involved subjects would generate more thoughts about computer technology after hearing the message than would low involved subjects. Additionally, it was predicted that low involved subjects would be more influenced by the highly credible message introduction than would high involved subjects. Results of the 2 x 2 analyses of variance on cognitive response and behavioral intention ratings did not support these predictions. Regarding the generation of thoughts, there was a trend toward the generation of more thoughts by high involved subjects than low involved subjects. The trend was not strong enough to be considered statistically significant. There was no significant difference between the high and low involvement subjects regarding behavioral intention. Likewise, the level of source credibility had no more influence on the low involvement group than on the high involvement subjects. Some possible reasons for these findings as well as suggestions for future research are provided

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CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION In 1977 an unknown company called Apple Computers Inc. began selling a device called the Apple II computer. The Apple II was an immediate success and a new industry called the personal computer industry was born. In his book entitled Megatrends Naisbitt (1982) conservatively estimated that by 1990, 60 percent of all jobs in the U.S. would involve the use of a computer. As Scadden (1984) points out, our society has moved out of the industrial age and into the information age. There are more white-collar than blue-collar workers in the U.S. The majority of these white-collar workers are in the business of processing information of one kind or another. By far, the most widely used tool in information processing is the microcomputer. Logically, the person who does not know how to operate a computer is going to have difficulty finding gainful employment in the years ahead. Like able bodied people, disabled people have benefitted from the use of computer technology. In particular, blind people who prior to the microcomputer relied on radio, television, talking books, tape 1

PAGE 8

recordings, braille, and sighted readers for information, now have access to databases, newspapers, electronic mail, home shopping, and much more (McWilliams, 1984). In addition to having access to computerized information, McWilliams (1984) points out that blind people now have a writing tool that enables the blind person to independently write, edit, and proofread his or her own work. Before the word processor, blind people used braille for writing and proofreading. Braille cannot be easily edited because once dots have been embossed onto the page they cannot be changed. Further, most sighted people cannot read braille so work could not be shared easily with others. To produce work for sighted teachers, colleagues, and supervisors, blind people used a regular typewriter. Touch typing is no problem for a blind person, but not being able to read what one types is a problem. With the proper computer equipment, blind people can easily proofread what they write. Unfortunately, computing is more complicated for blind than for sighted people. In 1984 William De L'aune suggested that computer users needed no more understanding of how a computer works to operate one than does a truck driver need to know what is going on under the hood of his truck to successfully drive it. This analogy is more appropriate for the sighted computer user than for the blind user. The sighted user need only worry about the computer's keyboard or mouse, the CRT screen, and the

PAGE 9

particular program that is running (e.g., word processor spreadsheet or database). Things are more complicated for the blind user because of not being able to see the computer's CRT screen. Special devices that have become known as sensory aids or access technology must be substituted for the screen (McWilliams, 1984; Scadden 1984). These specialized devices either produce synthetic speech or some form of braille output. The blind user must learn to operate this speech or braille device in addition to learning to use the desired application program. The typical computer sales person is not likely to be familiar with these specialized access devices so blind computer users find themselves needing to learn a great deal about computers just to get their braille or speech device successfully interfaced with their computer. In a 1985 article, Harvey Lauer and Leonard Mowinski explain that to successfully make use of a braille or speech output device, it is often necessary for blind people to learn their computer's disk operating system (DOS). In contrast, most sighted computer users know little or nothing about their computer's DOS. To learn DOS, one must read and understand complex technical information. Obtaining access to these critically important computer manuals is a problem for blind people because only a tiny fraction of the technical information that is available in print has been either translated into braille or recorded onto audio tape. A few

PAGE 10

computer companies have done a good job of providing high-quality documentation in formats such as braille, audio tape and disk to blind people. Much more needs to be done in this area. An equally perplexing problem for blind people is the fact that many are either unemployed or underemployed, thereby rendering the purchase of computers and access technology impossible. In an article entitled "New Chances for Blind Workers," Croft (1985) stated that while computer technology is helping some blind people in employment, 70 percent of the employable blind people in the U.S. are unemployed. Many unemployed blind people need computer technology, which they cannot afford, to increase their career options Fortunately, Title I of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires every state to provide a planned program of vocational rehabilitation to all eligible disabled persons (Mendelson, 1987). Within the vocational rehabilitation framework of each state is an agency that is set up specifically to work with blind and visually impaired people. These agencies are usually called either "Commissions for the Blind" or "Divisions of Blind Services." In Florida, the agency that is responsible for serving blind and visually impaired people is the "Florida Division of Blind Services." As mentioned earlier, to receive services from the Florida Division of Blind

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Services, a potential client must be evaluated to determine whether or not he or she is eligible for services. A major component of the evaluation process for blind people is to determine whether or not the person is potentially employable at the end of the rehabilitation program. Once a client has been declared eligible for services, federal guidelines require that the Division of Blind Services develop an "Individualized Written Rehabilitation Program (IWRP)" (Mendelson, 1987). In theory, Division of Blind Services counselors work directly with a client to develop the client's IWRP. In practice, however, because of high case loads and too much paperwork, many counselors hurriedly fill out the IWRP paperwork and place it in the client's folder without much direct input from the client. According to Mendelson (1987), many clients are surprised to find that they have an IWRP. The Individualized Written Rehabilitation Program is of critical importance because it specifies exactly which services the Division of Blind Services will provide to a client. These services include the purchase of any equipment that the counselor and client determine to be necessary. Typically, equipment such as br aillewr i ter s typewriters, and tape recorders have been provided to clients. Because of a lack of familiarity and understanding, high cost, and their nont rad i tional mode of operation, blindness agencies do not routinely purchase

PAGE 12

computer technology for their clients. Yet, as the number of jobs that require access to a computer increase, and as more blind people learn the personal, educational, and vocational value of technology, counselors are being placed in a difficult position of having to make decisions about the purchase of computer technology for their clients. Counselors are in a difficult position for several reasons. First, most counselors have expertise in human relations and communications and not in the ever-changing field of computer technology. Second, there are a number of companies that are selling hardware and software designed to allow blind people access to computers. Many of these products are similar but they are not identical. Third, there is the issue of individual preferences on the part of clients. Because of different needs, abilities, and goals, clients may prefer one product over another. Because neither counselors nor clients are capable of making informed decisions about technology, some states are beginning to employ high technology specialists to work as consultants H. J. Scott (personal communication, August 1, 1988). There are very few of these consultants, however, and the final responsibility regarding technology still rests with the Division of Blind Services counselor. In the state of Florida, for example, it is the Florida Division of Blind Services counselor who bears the ultimate decision making responsibility regarding the purchase and

PAGE 13

implementation of computer technology. For this reason, it is important to gain an understanding of how these counselors process information about computer technology for their clients The purpose of this study was to investigate how a randomly selected group of rehabilitation counselors psychologically process the information contained in a statement about computer technology for blind people. A model of information processing and persuasion developed by Petty and Cacioppo (1981a) called the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) was used. This model will be explained in detail in the next chapter.

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CHAPTER II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) is an attempt to bring the many conflicting theories of attitude change and persuasion into one cohesive theoretical framework (Petty & Cacioppo, 1981a). In the ELM, Petty and Cacioppo suggest that there are two distinct routes to persuasion. First, there is the central route. Persuasion occurs via the central route when the likelihood of message elaboration is particularly high as, for example, when the recipient of a message carefully scrutinizes and critically evaluates the true merits of the information contained in the message. Second, there is the peripheral route to persuasion. The peripheral route operates when a person is unable or unmotivated to engage in careful message scrutiny. In this case, individuals are unlikely to participate in message elaboration, instead appealing to a simple cognitive heuristic or cue in the environment to determine their attitudes. For example, one may choose a particular product because of the attractiveness of the person advertising the product without paying much attention to the true merits of the product itself. After

PAGE 15

reviewing the relevant literature, Petty (1977) concluded that the central route to persuasion appeared to be more enduring over time than did persuasion which occurred via the peripheral route. This is probably due to the fact that more effortful thinking is utilized when information is processed via the central route. To test the idea of elaboration likelihood and to empirically validate the existence of central and peripheral routes to persuasion, researchers used argument quality manipulations under high and low relevance conditions. Researchers created high relevance conditions by leading subjects to believe that a message had immediate personal consequences for them. In low relevance conditions, subjects received messages that did not have immediate personal consequences. According to the ELM, subjects in the high relevance condition should follow the central route to persuasion while subjects in the low relevance condition should use the peripheral route. Petty, Cacioppo and Goldman (1981) designed a study in which they manipulated personal relevance, argument quality, and source credibility. In this study, college students were exposed to an appeal stating that college seniors should be required to take comprehensive exams prior to graduation. Students in the high relevance condition were led to believe that the comprehensive exams would begin the next year and therefore affect them

PAGE 16

10 directly. Students in the low relevance condition were told that the exam policy would begin in ten years. Half of the students heard eight strong arguments and the other half heard eight weak arguments. Further, half of the subjects were told that the message emanated from a highly credible source, a Princeton University Professor. The other half of the subjects were told that the message was created by a high school student, a source with low credibility. Analysis of the data yielded two significant interactions. A relevance x message quality interaction demonstrated that message quality was a more important determinant of persuasion for subjects in the high relevance than in the low relevance conditions. A relevance x source credibility interaction showed that the peripheral cue of source credibility was a more important determinant of persuasion for people in the low relevance condition. In essence, subjects in the high relevance condition expended more mental energy in a careful elaboration of the content of the message. As predicted by the ELM, these subjects used the central route to persuasion. Subjects in the low relevance condition, on the other hand, did not mentally elaborate on the message but focused on the peripheral cue of source credibility instead. They relied on the peripheral route to persuasion. This study illustrates the link between the likelihood of mental elaboration and the route to persuasion.

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11 It should be pointed out that there are many other peripheral cues that can influence the likelihood of elaboration aside from source credibility. In fact, when mental elaboration is low, such things as the length of a message or the number of arguments contained in a message can become a peripheral cue. To test this notion, Petty and Cacioppo (1984) conducted two studies. The first study was similar to the previously described Petty, Cacioppo and Goldman (1981) study in that subjects were presented with a message about the implementation of senior comprehensive exams. They used the same personal relevance manipulation as in the 1981 study; however, the number of arguments that subjects received was different. Subjects were divided into four groups. One group received three strong arguments, a second group received three weak arguments, a third received nine strong arguments, and the fourth group received nine weak arguments. Attitude ratings indicated that the number of arguments was a more important factor of persuasion in the low relevance than in the high relevance condition. Argument quality, on the other hand, was a more important source of persuasion in the high relevance than in the low relevance condition. In their second experiment Petty and Cacioppo (1984) presented students with a message about increasing university tuition. Personal relevance was manipulated by

PAGE 18

12 telling half the subjects that the increase would take place at their own university while the other half were told that the increase was to take place at a distant North Carolina university. Three different messages about a tuition increase were presented. One contained three strong arguments, one used three weak arguments, and one was filled with six arguments (three strong and three weak). When the results of the study were analyzed, in the high relevance condition the three strong arguments yielded more agreement with the argument for tuition increase than did the three weak arguments. In the low relevance condition, however, the message with six arguments yielded the most agreement. The three strong arguments and the three weak arguments came in second and third respectively. In sum, the number of arguments was more important under low relevance conditions, but argument quality was most important under conditions of high relevance. These studies clearly suggest that there are two distinct routes to persuasion and that it is possible to manipulate elaboration likelihood. In reality, the central and peripheral routes to persuasion sit at either end of a continuum. People have varying degrees of motivation and ability to critically evaluate the cogency and validity of a given argument or statement. Under certain conditions, the likelihood of carefully scrutinizing or elaborating upon the content of a

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13 message is high, while under different conditions the likelihood of carefully evaluating or elaborating upon the content of a message is low. The Elaboration Likelihood Model allows one to predict the likelihood of elaboration upon a message given a particular set of conditions. In 1986 Petty and Cacioppo published an article which reviewed the rationale for and the development of the Elaboration Likelihood Model. Petty and Cacioppo described the major components of the ELM in postulate form. 1. People are motivated to hold correct attitudes (p. 127). 2. Although people want to hold correct attitudes, the amount and nature of issue-relevant elaboration in which people are willing or able to engage to evaluate a message vary with individual and situational factors (p. 128). 3. Variables can affect the amount and direction of attitude change by: (A) serving as persuasive arguments, (B) serving as peripheral cues, and/or (C) affecting the extent or direction of issue and argument elaboration (p. 132). 4. Affecting motivation and/or ability to process a message in a relatively objective manner can do so by either enhancing or reducing argument scrutiny(p.l38). 5. As motivation and/or ability to process arguments is decreased, peripheral cues become relatively more important determinants of persuasion. Conversely, as argument scrutiny is increased, peripheral cues become relatively less important determinants of persuasion (p. 152). 6. Variables affecting message processing in a relatively biased manner can produce either a positive (favorable) or negative (unfavorable) motivational and/or ability bias to the issue-relevant thoughts attempted (p. 163).

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14 7. Attitude changes that result mostly from processing issue-relevant arguments (central route) will show greater temporal persistence, greater prediction of behavior, and greater resistance to coun ter per suas ion than attitude changes that result mostly from peripheral cues (p. 175). While a review of the empirical evidence in support of each of these postulates is beyond the scope of this paper, empirical evidence relating to the postulates that are particularly germane to this study will be reviewed in the remaining sections of this chapter. Effect of Personal Relevance and Level of Invo lvement on Information Processing and Persuasion ~ "~ As mentioned earlier, the extent to which the content of a message is likely to be elaborated upon depends on how motivated the message recipient is to carefully and thoughtfully scrutinize the information contained within the message. An important predictor of elaboration likelihood is the degree to which the message has personal relevance for the recipient. The construct of personal relevance has been referred to by social psychologists as "ego-involvement" (Rhine & Severance, 1970; Sherif, Sherif, & Nebergall, 1965), "issue involvement" (Kiesler, Collins, & Miller, 1969), "personal involvement" (Apsler & Sears, 1968; Sherif, Kelly, Rodgers, Sarup, & Tittler, 1973), and "vested interest" (Sivacek & Crano, 1982). Other names have been used in the literature as well. Petty and Cacioppo (1986) give the following definition of "personal

PAGE 21

15 relevance". Personal relevance is "the extent to which an advocacy has 'intrinsic importance' (Sherif & Ho viand, 1961) or 'personal meaning' (Sherif et al., 1973)" (p. 145). Sherif and Hovland (1961) and Miller (1965) found that an increase of personal involvement was associated with resistance to persuasion. Sherif et al. (1965) attempted to explain this finding in terms of Social Judgment Theory. Basically a two-stage model, Social Judgment Theory suggests that (1) One makes judgments about the positions that are advocated in a persuasive message based on one's own position, and (2) attitude change either does or does not occur depending upon the degree of discrepancy between the position advocated in the message and one's own position. In essence, Social Judgment Theory hypothesizes that individuals use their already formulated positions on an issue to judge new positions. Further, there is assumed to be a relationship between a person's level of involvement with an issue and the strength of their already formulated position on that issue. In other words, the more highly involved a person is with an issue the less likely he or she is to be persuaded by the introduction of a new position on the issue. The Elaboration Likelihood Model proposes a different theory regarding personal relevance and persuasion. Petty and Cacioppo (1979) explain that as personal relevance increases, people become more motivated to centrally

PAGE 22

16 process the issue relevant arguments in a message. Because the consequences of being incorrect about an important message are high, people are likely to be more motivated to invest in the cognitive work that is necessary to critically evaluate the validity of a message. Further, Petty and Cacioppo hypothesized that v/hen a highly relevant message advocates a position that differs from the position held by the message recipient ( countera t t i t udina 1 message), the recipient should be more motivated and better able to generate counterarguments than should people for whom the message has low relevance. On the other hand, when the message is in agreement with the opinions of the recipient (proattitudinal message), more elaboration on the strength of the arguments should take place with high relevance subjects Petty, Cacioppo, and others have successfully demonstrated that as personal involvement increases so does the likelihood of cognitive elaboration. The following is a description of one such study. In this experiment, Petty and Cacioppo (1979) presented undergraduate students with either a proattitudinal message favoring increased coed visitation or a countera t tit udinal message supporting a decrease in coed visitation. Message relevance was manipulated by telling half of the subjects that the advocated position pertained to their university and the other half were told that the information pertained to a

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17 distant community college. Results of the study yielded a message direction quality x relevance interaction concerning subjects' attitudes about a change in coed visitation. In the high relevance condition, the counterattitudinal and weak message led to decreased acceptance. When the message was pr oat t i tudinal and strong, the high relevance condition led to increased acceptance. This study supports the ELM hypothesis that increased personal relevance leads to more careful scrutiny of a message. These findings were replicated by Petty, Cacioppo, and Heesacker (1981) and again by Petty and Cacioppo (1984). Even though it is clear that increased involvement leads to more effortful processing, Petty and Cacioppo (1986) describe three potential problems which may occur as personal relevance increases. 1. There may be some situations in which issues are so closely associated with core values that information processing either stops or becomes biased to protect the ego (Ostrom & Brock, 1968; Greenwald, 1980, 1981). 2. Increased personal relevance is linked with prior thinking about an issue. Because people may be better prepared to defend their beliefs due to prior thinking, they may be less susceptible to counterattitudinal appeals. Additionally, people who have thought about an issue many times may be less likely to process new arguments because they may feel that they have already considered all of the important arguments. 3. While it is possible to generate arguments which are clearly positive or negative in the laboratory, arguments are not so clear in the real world. Even though these real world factors make testing the relationship between personal relevance and increased

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1! elaboration more difficult, it should be remembered that the ELM views elaboration likelihood on a continuum and can be used to track the relationship between personal relevance and increased processing along that continuum. The Effect of Peripheral Cues on Information Processing and Persuasion In the previous section of this paper, information was cited suggesting that subjects were highly motivated to process information about issues which had personal relevance for them. This section explores what happens when one's ability or motivation to process information is low. Petty and Cacioppo (1981a) hypothesized that as motivation to process information decreases, peripheral cues become more important To test this hypothesis, Petty and Cacioppo examined the impact of peripheral cues on information processing in high and low relevance conditions. One of the first experiments designed to test this hypothesis was the previously described Petty, Cacioppo, and Goldman (1981) study advocating that college seniors be required to take comprehensive exams prior to graduation. A relevance x source expertise interaction indicated that the source cue was a more important determinant of attitudes for subjects in the low than in the high relevance condition. In an attempt to conceptually replicate this study, Petty, Cacioppo, and Schumann (1983) asked undergraduate college students to examine a booklet containing twelve

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19 advertisements. Each ad began with a written description of the product that was being advertised. The booklet contained both familiar and unfamiliar advertisements. The most important ad was for a nonexistent product called Edge disposable razors. Petty et al., (1983) manipulated the personal relevance for this product in two ways. First, subjects in the high relevance group were told that Edge disposable razors would soon be available in their community. Additionally, they were told that they could have a free disposable razor at the end of the experiment. Subjects in the low relevance condition were told that Edge disposable razors would be sold only in a distant state. They were told that they would be offered a free tube of toothpaste at the end of the experiment. Four versions of the Edge disposable razor ad were created. Two of the ads featured photographs of sports celebrities, and the other two had middle-aged citizens endorsing the product. In a final manipulation two of the ads contained six persuasive statements about the product (e.g., handle is tapered and ribbed to prevent slipping). Two of the ads contained six weak statements (e.g., designed with the bathroom in mind). When subjects' attitudes were analyzed, two significant interactions were found. A relevance x message quality interaction suggested that argument quality was a more important determinant of product attitude in the high than in the low relevance condition. This finding

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2 replicates the Petty, Cacioppo, and Goldman (1981) study. Second, a relevance x product endorser interaction indicated that the status of the product endorser was a more important determinant of attitude in the low relevance than in the high relevance condition. Again, this study lends support to the idea that a peripheral cue, in this case source credibility, has an increasing influence on persuasion as motivation to process a message decreases. The Effect of Prior Knowledge on Information Processing and Persuasion An extremely important consideration in the investigation of information processing is whether or not individuals have prior knowledge about the issue that is under consideration (Srull, 1983). Since, in most instances, persons with prior knowledge about an issue have opinions about that issue, prior knowledge usually leads to a biased examination of new information (Taylor 8 Fiske, 1984). The more prior knowledge that people have, the better they tend to be at coun terar gu ing with information that differs from their already formulated opinions. On the other hand, when information is presented that supports their already formulated opinions, people are better able to produce arguments supporting their position (Lord, Ross, & Lepper, 1979) In an effort to test the effect of prior knowledge on information processing, Cacioppo, Petty, and Sidera (1982) conducted the following experiment. First, two groups of

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21 students who attended a Catholic university were identified. One group was categorized as possessing a religious self-schema and the other was categorized as possessing a legalistic self-schema. Next, the participants received either a legalistic or religious oriented message which agreed with their own opinion against governmental support of abortion. An analysis of the data yielded a schema type x message type interaction. The subjects who had a legalistic self-schema viewed the legalistic message as being more persuasive and those possessing a religious self-schema were persuaded more by the religious arguments. Further, the study participants produced more topic relevant thoughts when the message was compatible with their own self-schema and fewer thoughts when the message was incompatible. This study illustrates the fact that prior knowledge does influence the processing of information To test the theory that prior knowledge increases one's ability to counterargue when presented with an opposing opinion, Wood (1982) asked subjects to list their beliefs about environmental preservation. Using a median split, derived from the number of beliefs listed, subjects were placed in either a high or low belief retrieval group. About two weeks later, subjects returned and read a counterattitudinal message arguing against environmental preservation. Next, subjects reported their attitudes and

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22 thoughts. Subjects with high prior knowledge changed less in the direction of the message than did those with low prior knowledge. In addition, subjects with high prior knowledge generated more counterarguments against the message than did the subjects with low prior knowledge. The Present Study The purpose of the present study was to test the relevance of the Elaboration Likelihood Model as a predictor of attitude formation about computer technology for blind people. In this study, the independent variables included two levels of involvement (high and low) and two levels of source credibility or expertise (high and low). The dependent variables included a cognitive response measure and a measure of behavioral intention (see the method section of this paper for details). The two levels of involvement x two levels of source credibility research design has been utilized throughout the development and validation of the ELM (Petty and Cacioppo, 1981a; Stoltenberg and McNeill, 1984). In this study, subjects who worked directly with blind clients were assigned to the high involvement category. Subjects who did not work directly with blind clients were placed in the low involvement group. The subjects were similar in that they all worked as vocational rehabilitation counselors with disabled individuals.

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23 Source credibility was experimentally manipulated by informing half of the subjects that they would be listening to a brief message advocating computer technology for blind people prepared by a computer technology specialist. The other half of the subjects were told that the message was prepared by a high school student (see appendix B). All subjects heard the same message (see appendix C). The Elaboration Likelihood Model allows for the formulation of the following research hypotheses: 1. Subjects who are in the high involvement condition will more critically evaluate and more carefully scrutinize the content of the message than will subjects in the low involvement condition. For this reason, highly involved subjects will be less influenced by the peripheral cue of source credibility than will low involvement subjects. 2. Highly involved subjects will list more positive thoughts, exhibit a more positive attitude and be more inclined to modify their behavior regarding computer technology for blind people than will subjects in the low involvement condition.

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CHAPTER III METHODS Subjects In order to test these hypotheses, a total of 70 subjects were selected to participate in this study. They were a random mixture of males and females. All of the participants were rehabilitation counselors. Half of them were employed by the Florida Division of Blind Services and the rest were employed by the state of Florida's Vocational Rehabilitation program. Independent Variables Involvement Involvement levels were manipulated d is pos i t ional ly according to counselor's case load population. Specifically, half of the participants in the study were counselors who worked for the Florida Division of Blind Services and therefore worked with blind and visually impaired clients. The remainder of the counselors worked with the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, but did not work with blind clients. In essence, level of involvement was high for counselors who worked with blind 24

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25 people and low for counselors who did not. This assumption was, however, tested by administering a number of pretest items designed to assess subjects' familiarity with computer technology for blind people (see Appendix A). Source Credibility Source credibility was manipulated by informing half of the subjects that they would listen to information prepared by a Ph.D. in electrical engineering who developed computer products for blind people (high credibility). The other half of the subjects were told that they would listen to information prepared by a high school student who wrote a term paper on computers for disabled people (low credibility) — See Appendix B for details. This method of manipulating source credibility is often used in the ELM literature (cf. Heesacker, 1986) and its effectiveness was determined with a manipulation check. Message Development In developing the message, the researcher wanted to formulate a moderately strong appeal favoring computer technology for blind people. In the creation of this message, the researcher wanted to avoid a robustly convincing argument which might inadvertently enhance involvement or grossly restrict counterargument. At the same time, a universally weak message was equally undesirable. As demonstrated through pilot testing, the moderately favorable message that was developed permitted

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26 proand coun terar gumenta t ion while at the same time recreating the kind of mixed quality information about computers for blind people that exists in the real world (see Appendix C). The message that was used in the study was developed by following Petty and Cacioppo's (1981a, b;1986) three step procedure. First, the researcher developed an extensive list of both strong and weak arguments having to do with computer technology for blind people. An example of a strong argument was: "Blind computer users can compete with sighted workers for jobs that, prior to the advent of the computer, were not available to blind persons." A moderate or weak argument was: "The blind computer user can utilize the computer to provide increased recreational and leisure-time activities." Next, the arguments were combined into a one-page statement expressing both strong and moderate to weak arguments regarding computer technology for blind people. Finally, to test the strength of the arguments, 64 undergraduate students were asked to listen to the statement and to complete a thought listing procedure (Petty and Cacioppo, 1981a). After hearing the statement, subjects were asked to take three minutes to list their thoughts. They were then asked to post-code each thought. For thoughts in favor of computer technology for blind people, subjects used a plus sign. For unfavorable thoughts a minus sign was used, and for neutral thoughts a zero was

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27 employed. This post-coding procedure is commonly used (Cacioppo and Petty, 1981). Petty and Cacioppo (1979) found this practice to be as reliable as independent judge coding Out of 64 subjects a total of 269 thoughts were listed: 45 percent were positive, 20 percent negative, and 34 percent neutral. Thus, we were successful in creating a moderately favorable appeal that encourages primarily, but not exclusively, pr oa tt i tudinal thinking. Dependent Variables and Procedures All of the rehabilitation counselors who were employed by the Florida Division of Blind Services and counselors in the Gainesville and Tallahassee districts who worked with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation received general descriptions of the study. These descriptions were prepared by the researcher and distributed to the counselors by their supervisors. The researcher contacted the counselors by telephone to ask them to participate in a twenty-minute telephone interview. If the counselor agreed to participate, a convenient time for the interview was agreed upon The Telephone Interview The telephone interview began with the researcher thanking the subject for agreeing to participate in the study. Next the researcher briefly outlined what would take place during the interview. First, participants were asked

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2a to supply some general demographic information and to answer a few questions regarding their knowledge of and involvement with computer technology designed for blind and visually impaired people. Subjects were asked to respond to five questions designed to gather such demographic information as level of education, present employment, age, and sex Subjects were then asked four questions designed to assess their level of involvement with computer technology for blind people (see Appendix A). After answering these questions, the study participants were asked to listen to a recorded statement about computer technology for blind people. Immediately before hearing the tape, half of the participants were told that the recorded message was prepared by an expert in the field of computers for blind people, and half of the subjects were told that the statement was prepared by a high school student who had written a term paper on computers. After listening to the tape, the counselors were asked to answer a few questions about their reactions and thoughts while listening to the recording. Subjects were told that there are no right or wrong answers and that we are only interested in their opinions. They were told that their answers would be recorded on tape, but that their name would not appear on the tape, thereby ensuring confidentiality. When the recorded statement was finished, the researcher asked the

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29 subjects to use a seven-point Likert scale to answer eight questions. Five of the questions were designed to serve as manipulation checks (i.e., level of involvement and source credibility), and three questions were designed to test dependent variables (i.e., cognitive response and behavioral intentions). The questions were designed to assess the participant's attitudes regarding the statement (e.g., How would you rate the quality of the arguments used by the speaker in support of the advocated topic?), level of involvement with the issue (e.g., How relevant was the message for you?), degree of source credibility (e.g., How qualified did you feel that the speaker was to discuss the topic?), level of cognitive response (e.g., To what extent did the tape hold your attention?), and behavioral intention (e.g., How likely would you be to recommend the purchase of computer technology to a blind person?). Finally, subjects were asked to spend two minutes verbalizing the thoughts that they had while listening to the message. The researcher did not listen to this verbalization of thoughts, but did inform subjects when the time was up. Subjects were then thanked for participating and given the opportunity to ask any questions about the study Analysis The data was analyzed using a series of 2 x 2 between-subjects ANOVAS along cognitive response and

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3 behavioral intention measures. The first factor refers to high or low levels of involvement with computer technology for blind people. The second factor refers to high or low source credibility, iieans and standard deviations for each dependent variable across each condition are presented. Cognitive Responses A thought listing technique developed by Petty and Cacioppo (1981a) was used to analyze the cognitive response variable. Independent judges were used to rate subjects' thoughts as positive, negative, or neutral. Subjects in the high involvement group were predicted to have more positive thoughts than subjects in the low involvement group. Subjects in the low involvement group were predicted to have more negative and neutral thoughts than subjects in the high involvement group. Moreover, an interaction between level of involvement and source credibility was predicted for subjects in the low involvement condition. Subjects in the low involvement condition were predicted to respond more favorably to the peripheral cue of high source credibility than were subjects in the high involvement condition Behavioral Intention After hearing the message in support of computer technology for blind people, it was predicted that subjects in the high involvement condition would be more likely to indicate that they would purchase computer technology for

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31 blind clients than would subjects in the low involvement condition. In other words, subjects in the high involvement group were predicted to score higher on a measure of behavior intention than would subjects in the low involvement group (cf. Petty & Cacioppo, 19S6).

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CHAPTER IV RESULTS Manipulation Checks Prior to examining whether or not the experimental manipulations produced the desired effects on the dependent measures, the effectiveness of the experimental manipulations was determined. Manipulation checks for involvement and source credibility were built in to the study and were analyzed using a series of 2 x 2 ANOVAS. Issue Involvement Participants who were employed by the Florida Division of Blind Services were assigned to the high involvement group because they worked with blind and visually impaired clients. Participants who were employed as vocational rehabilitation counselors were assigned to the low involvement category because they work with few visually impaired and blind clients. The researcher reasoned that differences in involvement might be reflected in four ways, so four manipulation checks to assess these differences were designed. The four manipulation checks examined the number of blind clients in each participant's case load, each participant's level of interest in and prior knowledge 32

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33 about computer technology, and the personal implications of the topic for them. All subjects were asked to specify how many blind or visually impaired clients they had in their case load. An analysis of variance indicated that Florida Division of Blind Services counselors had significantly more blind and visually impaired clients in their case loads (M=100.85) than did Vocational Rehabilitation counselors (M=1.67), F(l,69)=383.05, p<.0001 (see Tables 1 and 2). To examine subjects' level of interest in computer technology for blind people, a five-point Likert scale was used (one equaled "not at all interested" and five equaled "extremely interested"). An analysis of variance indicated that subjects in the high involvement condition showed significantly more interest in computer technology (M=4,15) than subjects in the low involvement condition (M=3.53), F( 1 ,69)=5. 74, p<.02, again indicating the predicted differences between the groups. To assess the relationship between prior knowledge about computer technology for blind people and level of involvement, subjects were asked to rate their knowledge on a five-point Likert scale (one equaled "I know virtually nothing," and five equaled "I am an expert"). An analysis of variance indicated that subjects in the high involvement category showed significantly higher prior knowledge (M=2.53) than did subjects in the low involvement category

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34 (M=1.58) with regards to knowledge about computer technology for blind people, F ( 1 69 ) = 20 1 9 p<.0001. A final manipulation check on the level of involvement was conducted after subjects listened to a recorded message. This post-message question asked, "To what extent did the taped message have implications for you personally?" Subjects used a seven-point Likert scale to answer the question; one represented "not at all relevant to me," and seven equaled "extremely relevant to me." An analysis of variance yielded a significant difference between the high and low involvement subjects regarding personal implications, F ( 1 69 ) =10 29 p<.002: high involvement M=5.62, low involvement M=4.39. Source Credibility As a post-message manipulation check on the level of source credibility, subjects were asked, "How qualified did you feel that the speaker was to discuss the topic?" Again, subjects utilized a seven-point Likert scale to answer the question; one represented not at all qualified, and seven equaled very qualified. An analysis of variance indicated that the experimental manipulation of source credibility was successful regarding the perceived qualifications of the author of the recorded message about computer technology for blind people, F( 1 67 ) =5 98 P <.017: high credibility M=5.84, low credibility M=5.03.

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35 Dependent Measures Data for each of the dependent measures were analyzed with between-subjects 2x2 ANOVAS. The independent variables were involvement and source credibility. Each independent variable had two categories which were labeled high and low. Separate analyses for cognitive response and behavioral intention measures are presented. Cognitive Response A thought listing technique developed by Petty and Cacioppo (1981a) was used to analyze the cognitive response variable. Independent judges were used to rate subjects' thoughts about computer technology for blind people as either positive, negative, or neutral. The Elaboration Likelihood Model allows one to make several predictions regarding the production of thoughts. The model predicts that highly involved subjects will have 1) more total thoughts, 2) more positive thoughts, and 3) fewer negative thoughts than will subjects in the low involvement category, and further, that involvement would interact with credibility along these variables. In particular, low involvement subjects should respond more favorably under high than low credibility conditions, whereas high involvement subjects should be unaffected by source credibility An analysis of variance revealed a trend toward a significant main effect regarding the total number of

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36 thoughts for involvement, F( 1 69 ) =3 22 p<.07: high involvement / 1 = 4.47, low involvement M = 3.64, There were no significant main effects for either source credibility or for the involvement x source credibility interaction. Regarding positive thoughts, an analysis of variance yielded no significant main effects for involvement, source credibility, or the involvement x source credibility interaction. An analysis of variance regarding negative thoughts indicated a marginally significant main effect for involvement, F ( 1 69 ) = 3 68 p<.06: high involvement rl=.82, low involvement >!=.42. Neither source credibility nor the involvement x source credibility interaction were significant. Behavioral Intention The Elaboration Likelihood Model predicts that high involved subjects will score higher on a measure of behavioral intention than will subjects in the low involvement condition. To test this prediction, subjects were asked to use a seven-point Likert scale to answer the question, "How likely would you be to recommend the purchase of computer technology for a blind person?" One equaled "not at all likely" and seven equaled "extremely likely." The analysis of variance resulted in no significant differences on the behavioral intention measure

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Table 1. Analysis of Variance for Manipulation Checks and Dependent Measures 37 Source Sum of Squares df Case Load Interest Knowledge Implications Qualify Total number Negative 171029.70 6.81 15.02 26.28 10.61 12.38 2.97 383.05 5.74 20. 19 10.29 5.98 3.22 3.68 0001 .02 0001 .002 .02 .08 .06

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i— I CM CO CO LO 00 r— co cm co cn CO CO O r-H co r^ 38 CO i— I O CO co co sr co -3co cm rco o ,-H o

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CHAPTER V DISCUSSION The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effects of issue involvement and source credibility upon cognitive responses generated by a group of rehabilitation counselors who listened to a message about computer technology for blind people. The research hypotheses for this study were developed after reviewing the psychological literature on the Elaboration Likelihood Model of information processing, persuasion, and attitude change (Petty and Cacioppo, 1979). According to Petty and Cacioppo (1986), personal relevance (e.g., issue involvement) is among the best predictors of how a message will be cognitively processed. The Elaboration Likelihood Model postulates that information is processed along a continuum with careful elaboration or central route processing at one end and a reliance on environmental cues or peripheral route processing at the other end. There is a positive correlation between the degree of personal involvement with an issue and the likelihood of carefully and critically evaluating new information regarding that issue. In other 39

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40 words, the ELI1 theorizes that persons are willing to expend proportionately more mental energy processing information about an issue as their level of involvement with that issue increases. The first hypothesis of the present study made two predictions. First, subjects who were highly involved in working with blind people would expend more mental energy examining information about computer technology for blind people than would subjects who had little or no involvement with blind people. Second, because highly involved subjects would more carefully evaluate the content of the recorded message about computer technology for blind people, they would be less influenced by the peripheral cue of source credibility than would subjects in the low involvement category. This involvement x source credibility interaction for the low involvement category was not observed on any of the dependent measures. The second research hypothesis predicted that highly involved subjects would list more positive thoughts and be more likely to change their behavior regarding computer technology for blind people than would low involvement subjects N o significant differences between high and low involvement subjects regarding either the number of positive thoughts generated or the intention to change behavior were observed.

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41 While the predicted interactions between level of involvement and source credibility were not found, most of the expected nain effects for involvement were observed. For example, after listening to the recorded message about computers for blind people, the high involvement subjects generated more overall thoughts on the issue than did low involvement subjects. Manipulation checks designed to test the involvement categories yielded statistically significant differences between high and low involvement as well. For example, high involvement subjects felt that the recorded message about computer technology had greater personal implications for them than did low involvement subjects. In short, it is clear that the subjects in the high involvement category differed to some extent from subjects in the low involvement category on many of the dependent measures. What is unclear from the data is the degree to which high involvement subjects differed from low involvement subjects along the information processing continuum. In the past, ELM researchers have dealt with this problem by designing the involvement manipulation so that subjects in the high involvement category are motivated to use the central processing route and low involvement subjects are motivated to use the peripheral route. In their 1981 study, Petty, Cacioppo, and Goldman told high involvement subjects (college juniors) that in order to

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42 graduate, they must pass senior comprehensive exams. Further, they were told that these exams would begin the following year affecting them directly. Low involvement subjects, on the other hand, were told that the new comprehensive exam policy would not take effect for ten years. This manipulation was designed to facilitate the processing of information at either end of the elaboration likelihood continuum. By design, the high involvement subjects used the central route to persuasion because the message had direct consequences for them. Low involvement subjects used the peripheral processing route because the exam policy did not directly affect them. In the present study, subjects were assigned to either the high or low involvement categories based on whether or not they worked directly with blind people. The researcher assumed that counselors who worked with blind people would be more motivated to critically think about computers for blind people than would counselors who did not have blind clients in their case loads. It is possible, however, that the topic of computer technology for blind people nay have been of greater interest than expected for some individuals in the low involvement category and of less interest than expected to some individuals in the high involvement group. As a result, the two groups were brought closer together on the elaboration likelihood continuum and the differences between high and low involvement subjects were probably

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43 moderate rather than extreme. Thus, the distinction between central and peripheral route processing as measured by level of involvement was less robust in the present study than in the Petty, Cacioppo, and Goldman (1931) stuay. The fact that the predicted source credibility x level of involvement interaction did not occur suggests that the low involvement subjects were mentally elaborating upon the recorded message as opposed to relying on a peripheral cue. Even though the two groups differed regarding degree of involvement, both groups were processing the information contained in the recorded message via the central route. Since both groups used the central processing route, the Elaboration Likelihood Model was incapable of detecting any difference between the two groups. The model's inability to pinpoint exactly where information processing is taking place along the cent ral /per ipheral route raises questions about the ELM's effectiveness in situations where the two groups are not located at opposite ends of the continuum. There are a number of methodological and topic related reasons why participants in the low involvement category may have been more willing to engage in effortful thinking about computers for blind people than expected. Likewise, there are some possible explanations for why subjects in the high involvement group may have tended to engage in less critical thinking about computers for blind people.

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44 All participants listened to the same moderately strong recorded message in support of computer technology for blind people. The message was designed to provide general information about the technology (similar to the kind of information that rehabilitation counselors are likely to read in rehabilitation journals or receive in the mail). Since the message dealt specifically with technology for blind people, it is likely that the Florida Division of Blind Services counselors would have more general familiarity with the issues that were discussed than would the Vocational Rehabilitation counselors. According to Taylor and Fiske (1984), prior knowledge about an issue usually leads to biased processing. People who have prior knowledge have probably formulated opinions about the issue. These prior opinions interfere with the processing of new information in a number of ways. Lord, Ross, and Lepper (1979) argued that when new information is in agreement with opinions that were formulated because of prior knowledge, people are better able to produce arguments favoring that position. On the other hand, when new information opposes already formulated opinions, people are better able to produce arguments against the new information. Finally, Petty and Cacioppo (1986) pointed out that prior knowledge can result in individuals choosing not to elaborate on new information because they may believe that they already know all they wish to know about the

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45 issue. In short, biased processing due to prior knowledge rr.ay have prevented a number of blind services counselors from objectively processing the information that was presented in the recorded message. In contrast, for many Vocational Rehabilitation counselors the message content may have been new and exciting. In support of this possibility is the postmessage data concerning subjects' reported levels of attention to the message. Subjects in both high and low involvement categories scored high on the seven-point attention scale (M=5.6 and 5.8, respectively). Thus, Vocational Rehabilitation counselors may have been motivated to critically think about the information. I/hen asked to list their thoughts after hearing the message, a number of Vocational Rehabilitation counselors wondered whether similar technology was available for persons with disabilities other than blindness. It is clear that these Vocational Rehabilitation counselors were cognitively elaborating upon the content of the message. Future Considerations In recent years, the Elaboration Likelihood Model has been used to investigate how individuals process information in a variety of settings. In 1983, Petty Cacioppo and Schumann utilized the ELM to investigate how individuals processed information about a consumer product called Edge disposable razors. More recently, Stoltenberg

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4 6 and McNeil (1984) and Heesacker (1986) utilized the ELM in counseling research. The present study used the ELM to investigate how rehabilitation counselors process consumer oriented information about computer technology for blind people. Because of its success in consumer oriented and counseling research, the ELM was the information processing model of choice. Unfortunately, the present study failed to replicate a number of important ELM predictions. If future researchers wish to use the ELM to investigate how counselors process information about computer technology for blind people, certain factors must be considered. First, future researchers must deal with the aforementioned problems with issue involvement. To insure that there is more than a moderate difference between the two levels of involvement, counselors who do not work with disabled people should be selected to participate in the low involvement group. It is likely that the Vocational Rehabilitation counselors in the present study tended to elaborate more on the message because of their involvement with disabled people than would counselors who do not specialize in working with this population. Second, manipulating source credibility by indicating that the recorded message was prepared by either a high school student or a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering did not work well as a peripheral cue. In future research more universally meaningful peripheral cues such as popular

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47 brand names or celebrity endorsers should be used. Third, it is necessary to minimize the likelihood of biased processing. A pr e-exper imen ta 1 assessment of study participants level of prior knowledge about computer technology for blind people would enable the researcher to select study participants who have little or no prior knowledge. Fourth, it would be desirable to design the recorded message so that it would specifically direct high involvement subjects to engage in more effortful thinking. The message should be pilot tested on a selected group of Blind Services counselors to determine their level of familiarity with the content. It is likely that redesigning the message would help reduce the problems with prior knowledge as well. In summary, the present study attempted to utilize the ELM to investigate a previously unexamined topic. Although research has applied this model to consumer and counseling contexts, no work to date has combined both. This study is the first to explore both areas simultaneously by examining how counselors process consumer oriented information.

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APPENDIX A PRETEST SCRIPT I would like to begin this interview by thanking you for agreeing to participate in this study. The interview will take about twenty minutes and will consist of three basic components. First, I will ask you for some general demographic information about yourself as well as a few questions regarding your knowledge of and involvement with computer technology designed for blind and visually impaired people. Second, I will ask you to listen to a brief audio tape about computer technology for blind and visually impaired people. Finally, after you have listened to the tape, I will ask you to answer a few questions about what you heard. There are no right or wrong answers. Please be as honest as you can. I am just interested in your own opinions. I will provide you with step by step instructions as we go. Your responses are being recorded on an audio tape. Please speak in a normal but clear voice into your telephone. Do you have any questions before we begin the interview? 48

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49 Demographic Information 1. What is your present level of education? 2 V.'hat is your current job title? 3. How long have you been employed in your present position? 4 What is your age? 5. Are you male or female? Level of Involvement Ileasures 1. Iiow many blind or visually impaired clients do you have in your case load? Throughout the remainder of the interview, I will ask you to select your answers from a range of numbers along a rating scale. Please choose any number along the continuum that best answers the question for you. 2. On a scale of one to five, with one representing no interest and five representing extremely interested, how interested are you in computer technology for blind and visually impaired people? 3. On a scale of one to five, with one representing I know virtually nothing, and five representing I am an expert, how much do you know about computer technology for blind and visually impaired people? 4. On a scale of one to five, with one representing strongly disagree, and five representing strongly agree, how much do you agree with the following statement?:

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50 computer technology will allow blind and visually impaired people to break down educational, vocational, and societal barriers 5. On a one to five scale, with one representing almost never, and five representing nearly everyday, how many times a week do you use a word processor?

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APPENDIX B MESSAGE INTRODUCTIONS High Credibility Message Introduction The information that you are about to hear was excerpted from a speech given by Dr. Jack Carson, a rehabilitation engineer, who specializes in the selection, development, and implementation of computer technology for blind and visually impaired people. While completing a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, Dr. Carson became interested in designing and building computerized devices that would give blind people access to computers even if they could not see the computer's screen. In 1986 he developed a portable talking computer which is widely used by blind people throughout the world. Dr. Carson also enjoys a national reputation as a rehabilitation technology consultant. He frequently works with rehabilitation professionals, school systems, and potential employers of blind people to assist in the selection and implementation of computer equipment that can be used without vision. 51

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52 Low Credibility Message Introduction The information that you are about to hear was excerpted from a term paper written by Jack Carson, a high school student taking a course called "Computers In Our Society." After reading a newspaper article about blind people using computers, Jack incorporated the following information into his term paper.

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APPENDIX C THE RECORDED MESSAGE Computer technology has the potential to be of tremendous educational and vocational benefit to blind people. Despite the fact that user manuals are often frustrating, equipment is expensive, and training is not always available, computer equipment opens whole new horizons to visually impaired persons. For example, even though blind people can read newspapers and magazines through traditional methods, for example, braille, they can read them more efficiently with a computer and have a greater variety of them available as well Furthermore, accessible computers make blind people more independent. By accessing databases such as library books, electronically recorded financial transactions and the like, the person can do more for himself or herself without being as reliant on others. This independence enhances a sense of personal autonomy and self-esteem. A case in point is the job market. The number of jobs requiring computer skills is increasing rapidly. Computer experience enables blind people to gain employment that 53

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54 would otherwise be unavailable to them. It opens a whole new horizon of vocational options. Finally, computers enhance leisure-time activities for the blind. Beyond the occupational and personal advantages of computers, they can be fun, and computer accessibility means that the blind person can do such things as play computer games, something most of us take for granted. In sum, computers make the world more available to the blind. 3y extending personal, vocational, and recreational opportunities, computer technology enhances the quality of life and we should move rapidly toward making them available for all blind individuals.

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APPENDIX D POST MESSAGE SCRIPT 1. Utilizing a one to seven rating scale, Please rate the following aspects of the tape: A. Voice quality. One represents bad and seven represents good B. Rate of delivery. One equals too slow and seven equals too fast C. Enthusiasm for topic. One equals bad and seven equals good 2. To what extent did the tape hold your attention? One equals not at all and seven equals very much. 3. To what extent did the taped message have implications for you personally? One equals not at all relevant to ne and seven equals extremely relevant to me. 4. How qualified did you feel that the speaker was to discuss the topic? One equals not at all qualified and seven equals very qualified. 5. How would you rate the quality of the arguments used by the speaker in support of the advocated topic? One equals very poor arguments and seven equals very good arguments. 6. How many arguments did the speaker present? One, two, 5 5

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three, four, five, six, or seven. 7. how relevant was the message for you? One equals not at all relevant and seven equals extremely relevant. 8. After listening to the message, how likely would you be to recommend the purchase of computer technology for a blind person? One equals not at all likely and seven equals extremely likely.

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57 Thought Listing Instructions Now I would like to get an idea of the thoughts that crossed your mind while listening to the tape. I am interested in you reporting all thoughts that you had as you listened to the message. Please recall what went through your mind as you listened to the tape and use short concise phrases to describe your thoughts. Do not feel embarrassed to verbalize your thoughts. I will not be listening as you do this. At the end of two minutes, I will come back on to let you know when the time is up. Again, feel free to be honest and verbalize whatever thoughts you had while listening to the tape. Please begin now

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APPENDIX E COMPLETE DATA SET A 3C D EF G H I J K L M N O P R S T U V W X Y Z 111 2 1 20 56 1 130 4351175756773776402 112 3 1 1 62 1 140 3231154564765657331 121 21 12 45 1 85 4351255675573674400 122 32 134 2 23141263645774474103 I 211

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1021

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:eferences Apsler, R., & Sears, D. 0. (1968). Warning, personal involvement, and attitude change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 9, 162-166. Cacioppo, J. T., & Petty, R. E. (1981). Social psychological procedures for cognitive response The thought listing technique. In T 1. Genest (Eds.), Cognitive Guilford assessmen t Merluzzi, C. Glass, S assessment New York: Cacioppo, J. T., Petty, R. E., & Sidera, J. A. (1982). The effects of a salient self-schema on the evaluation of proattitudinal editorials: Top-down versus bottom-up message processing. Journal of Experimenta l Social Psychology 18 324-338"! Croft, D. L. (1985). Mew chances for blind workers. Popular Computing 4, 52-60. De L'aune, W. (1984). Computers: Their genesis, use and potential. Journal of Visual Impairmen t and Blindness 78, 47-88. Greenwald, A. G. (1980). The totalitarian ego: Fabrication and revision of personal history. American Psychologist 35 603-618. Greenwald, A. G. (1981). Ego task analysis: An integration of research on ego-involvement. In A. Hastorf & A. Isen (Eds.), Cognitive social psychology Amsterdam: Elsevier Heesacker, M. (1986). Counseling pretreatment and the elaboration likelihood model of attitude change. Journal of Counseling Psychology 33 107-114. Kiesler, C. A., Collins, B. E., & Miller, N. (1969). Attitude ch ange: A critical analysis of theoretical approaches New York: W i 1 e y 60

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Lauer, H., & Mowinski, L. (1985). Selecting computer aids for the visually impaired [Machine-readable data file]. nines, IL: Veterans Administration Hospital, Blind Center (Producer). Madison, '.'I: Raised Dot Computing, Inc. (Distributor). Lord, C. G., Ross, L fi Lepper, M R. (1979). Biased assimilation and attitude polarization: The effects of prior theories on subsequently considered evidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 37 2098-2109. "• — McUilliams, P. A. (1984). Personal computers and the disabled Garden City, NY: Quantum Press/ Do ubleday. Mendelson, S. B. (1987). Financing adaptive technology; A guide to s ources and strategies for blind and visually impaired users New York: Smiling Interface. Miller, N. (1965). Involvement and dogmatism as inhibitors of attitude change. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology j_, 121-132"! ~ Naisbitt, J. (1982). Megatrends. New York: Warner Books. Ostrom, T. M., & Brock, T. C. (1968). A cognitive model of attitudinal involvement. In R. Abelson, E. Aronson, W. J. McGuire, T. M. Newcomb, J. J. Rosenberg, & P. H. Tannenbaum (Eds.), Theories of cognitive consistency: A sourcebook Chicago! Rand McNally. Petty, R. E. (1977). A cognitive response analysis of the temporal persistence of attitude changes indue'd by persuas ive communications (Doctoral Dissertation, The Ohio State university, 1978). Dissertation Abstra cts International 38 3961B. — Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1979). Issue involvement can increase or decrease persuasion by enhancing message relevant cognitive responses. Journal of Personality and Sociad Psychology 37 1915-1926. Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1981a). Attitudes and persuasion: Classic and contemporary approaches Dubuque, IA: William C. Brown. Petty, E. E., £ Cacioppo, J. T. (1981b). Issue involvement as a moderator of the effects on attitude of advertising content and context. Adva nces in Consumer Research 8, 20-24. 61

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(1984) The effects of Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T involvement on responses to argument quantity ~and' quality: Central and peripheral routes to persuasion Journal of Personality and Social Psvchol 6 2 69-81 46, Petty .?'.,?;• & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion. In L. Berkiwitz (Ed ) Advance s in E xperimental Social Psychology (Vol 19 PP 123-205). Orlando, FL: Academic Press Petty, R. E., Cacioppo, J. T. & Goldman, R. (1981). Personal involvement as a determinant of argument-based persuasion. Journal of Persona lity and Social Psychology 41 847-81)5"! The Petty, R. E., Cacioppo, J. T., & Heesacker, M. (1981) use of rhetorical questions in persuasion: A cognitive response analysis. Journal of Pers onality and Social Psychology 40 432-440. Petty, R. E., Cacioppo, J. T., S Schumann, D. (1983). Central and peripheral routes to advertising effectiveness: The moderating role of involvement. Journal of Consumer Research 10 134-148. Rhine R. J., & Severance, L. J. (1970). Ego-involvement, discrepancy, source credibility, and attitude change. 1Q-19U Personali ty and Social Psychology Jj6, Scadden, L. A. (1984). Blindness in the information age: Equality or irony. Journal of Visual Impairment an d Blindness 78 6-47. Sherif, M., & Hovland, C. I. (1961). Social judg ment: Assimilation and cont rast effects in communica tion and attitude change. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press J Sherif, C W., Kelly, M Rodgers, H. L., Sarup, G., & Tittler, B. (1973). Personal involvement, social judgment, and action. Journal of Persona lity and Sociad Psychology 27 31 1-327. Sherif, C. W., Sherif, M., a Nebergall, R. E. (1965) Attitude and attitude change: The social judgment-involveme nt approach PhiladelphiaSaunders Sivacek J., & Crano, W. D. (1982). Vested interest as a moderator of attitude-behavior consistency. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 43 210-221.

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Srull, T. K. (1983). The role of prior knowledge in the acquisition, retention, and use of new information. Advances in Consumer Research, 10, 572-576. 63 Stoltenberg, C. C, fi McNeil, 3. W. (1984). Effects of expertise and issue involvement of perceptions of counseling. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 2, 314-325. Taylor, S. E. Reading MA Fiske, S. (1984). AddisonWesley. Social cognition Wood, W. (1982). Retrieval of attitude-relevant information from memory: Effects on susceptibility to persuasion and on intrinsic motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 42 798-810.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Robert Warren Carter was born on January 10, 1956, in Concord, North Carolina. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1978 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1979 he received his Master of Arts in Education in the field of guidance and counseling from Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, North Carolina. He served there as a university counselor until he began his doctoral studies in counseling psychology at the University of Florida in 1983. In August, 1988, Robert completed his predoctoral internship at the Psychological and Vocational Counseling Center at the University of Florida. Robert is a pioneer in the use and interfacing of micro-processor based access technology. He lives with his wife, Vicki, who is a library technical assistant. 6 4

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I certify that 1 have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, for the degree\of Doctor of Philosophy! d isserta ti< Greg J. N^imeyer, CharimarT Associate Professor of Psychology I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy •k D. Alicia Assistant Professor of Psychology I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy larry h. Grater Professor of Psychology

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_ I certify that I have read this study and that in nv opimon it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly 7 presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and as a dxssertatxon for the degree of Doctorof Philosophy Jaffies G. Joiner Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Counseling Mark P. Hale ~" Associate Professor of Math ematics iay, 1989 Dean, Graduate School

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UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 3 1262 08666 334