Slusher, M.P., & Anderson, C.A. (1996). 

Using causal persuasive arguments to change beliefs and teach new information: The mediating role of explanation availability and evaluation bias in the acceptance of knowledge. 

Journal of Educational Psychology, 88, 110-122.


This article explores processes by which causal arguments effect change in established beliefs. Two experiments tested the hypothesis that explanation availability mediates belief change in response to causal arguments. Persuasive communications used causal and/or noncausal (statistical) evidence to argue that AIDS is not transmissible by casual contact. Results supported our hypothesis. Causal arguments produced the greatest belief change, with the effect mediated by explanation availability. Causal arguments were also less subject to evaluation bias, consistent with a cognitive interpretation of the biased assimilation phenomenon (in which evidence in favor of one's position is evaluated more favorably than evidence in opposition). Experiment 2 replicated the basic effects with dependent measures (including a measure of behavioral commitment) obtained three weeks after presentation of the communications. These results suggest that a causal component strengthens the educational potential of persuasive arguments.

 © 1996 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.

 Click here to download a pdf version of this article

      You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read this file. You can get a free copy of the 
      Reader at Adobe's web site: