We investigate the temporal course of meta-cognition and resistance processes following exposure to counter-attitudinal information in the 2012 Presidential election. Using a unique 3-wave survey panel design, we tracked eligible voters during the last months of the 2012 campaign and experimentally manipulated exposure to negative political messages targeting Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on an online platform. As predicted, we found that politically unengaged (vs. engaged) individuals were less likely to counter-argue a message attacking their favored candidate. Resistance, in turn, led to increased attitudinal certainty, polarization, and correspondence with actual voting behavior over the course of the campaign. These findings provide the first analysis of the longitudinal effects of meta-cognitive processes underlying persuasion for real-world attitude change and behavior.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Center for the Study of Political Psychology at University of Minnesota. The authors would like to thank Christopher Federico for his feedback on study design and for critical comments on early drafts of the manuscript; Andrew Sell for development and maintenance of the survey software; Kate Briggs and instructors of PSY1001 at the University of Minnesota for allowing us to enroll their students as participants in this study; and the Center for the Study of Political Psychology at University of Minnesota for supporting this research program. Portions of this research were presented in July 2016 at the annual meetings of The Psychology of Attitudes, Cologne, Germany
- attitudinal Certainty
- political Psychology
- resistance to Persuasion
- voting Behavior