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Latitude of Acceptance

Michael Kunczik

Subject Communication Studies » Communication Reception and Effects
Sociology » Social Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Social-judgment theorists ( Sherif & Hovland 1961 ) assume that →  attitudes concerning important topics are bipolar. People have an internal reference scale. The initial attitude on an issue with high ego-involvement influences the reaction to a communication representing a different view (→  Involvement with Media Content ). The discrepancy of a communication from one's own position is decisive for the amount of change achieved by a source because message discrepancy affects the perception of the quality of a message. More discrepant messages are perceived as being more unfair, more illogical, more boring, etc. In order to explain whether a person will change toward or away from a position advocated by a source, Sherif and Hovland (1961) segmented an attitude on a pro and contra issue into three parts (assimilation-contrast theory): latitude of acceptance, latitude of non-commitment (zone of indifference), and latitude of rejection (→  Attitudes, Values, and Beliefs, Media Effects on ; Cumulative Media Effects ; Hovland, Carl I. ). Within the latitude of acceptance (on an attitude scale the position most acceptable to a person on a given topic plus other positions which are considered acceptable), a source's opinion is distorted perceptually as being more similar to one's own opinion than it really is (“assimilation effect”). Attitude change is unlikely because the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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