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Social judgment theory

Social judgment theory
. . . proposes that people make evaluations (judgments) about the content of messages based on their anchors, or stance, on a particular topic messaages (Sherif & Hovland, 1961). A person's attitudes can be one of the three latitudes: (1) latitude of acceptance, (2) latitude of rejection, and (3) latitude of noncommitment.

Latitude of acceptance
A person finds the idea acceptable.
Latitude of rejection
A person finds the idea not-acceptable.
Latitude of noncommmitment
A person has no opinion -- he/she neither accept nor reject the ideas.

These degrees or latitudes together create the full spectrum of an individual’s attitude. Sherif and Hovland (1961) define the latitude of acceptance “as the range of positions on an issue…an individual considers acceptable to him (including the one ‘most acceptable’ to him)” (p. 129). On the opposite of the continuum lies the latitude of rejection. This is defined as including the “positions he finds objectionable (including the one ‘most objectionable’ to him”) (Sherif & Hovland, 1961, p. 129). This latitude of rejection was deemed essential by the SJT developers in determining an individual’s level of involvement and thus his/her propensity to attitude change. The greater the rejection latitude, the more involved the individual is in the issue and thus is harder to persuade. In the middle of these opposites lies the latitude of noncommitment, a range of viewpoints where one feels primarily indifferent.

Ordered alternatives questionnaire

Ordered alternatives questionnaire
presents a set of statements representing different points of view on a single topic (O'Keefe, 1990). The statements are listed so that they create a continuum; the first statement reflects one extreme view of an issue, and the last statement reflects the opposite extreme view. Repondents are asked to mark the statement with which they most agree (i.e., anchor). They are then asked to indicate statements with which they generally agree or disagree (representing the latitudes of agreement and disagreement). Statements that are neither accepatble nor unacceptable are left blank (representing the lattitude of noncommitment).


. . . . Jobless rate for Blacks is twice as high as that for Whites. And, although 29.7% of the workforce are minority, just 14.9% of officials and managers are minorities. In contrast, White men represent 37.6% of the workforce, but 56.9% of officials and managers are White men.

Attitudes about the gap between the employment of Causasian Americans and people of color
Read each statement, and put a v mark next to the statement with which you most agree. Then circule the letter of all statements with which you agree, and put an X through all statements with which you disagree
____A. the gap between minority employment and White employment is due to a lack of ability among many minority members.
____B. The gap between minority employment and white employment is due to a lack of effort among many minority members.
____C. The gap between minority employment and white employment is due to a lack of education among many minority members.
____D. The gap between minority employment and white employment is due to a lack of role models for many minority members.
____E. The gap between minority employment and white employment is due to a lack of training and development for many minority members.
____F. The gap between minority employment and white employment is due to a lack of mentoring of minority members.
____G. The gap between minority employment and white employment is due to an unwelcoming working environment for minorities in most organizations.
____H. The gap between minority employment and white employment is due to subtle and unintentional forms of racism.
____I. The gap between minority employment and white employment is due to active discrimination.

SJT argues that the map of an individual's attitudes about any given topic is a function of how ego involved that individual is about that topic. When one is highly involved in the topic, he/she believes that the issu is important, and he/she holds a highly intense position. And this topic is considered to be central to their sense of self -- hence, she or he is ego-involved.

And ideas is that . . .
Knowing whether a person is ego-involved allows the persuader to make certain predictions about the recipient of a persuasive message.

  1. The more ego-involved a person is, the larger the latitude of rejection that person will have. -- If you feel storngly about something, you are likely to reject anything that doesn't match your recise point of view -- i.e., You accept only the idea; but reject everything else. If you don't care as much about the topic, you are likely to be open to alternative possibilities.
  2. The more ego-inovolved a person is, the smaller that latitude of noncommitment. -- If you believe a topic is important (to you), you are likely to have thought about it, leaving little room for having no opinion or no knowledge.

Example

Suppose that you are working in the human resources department of a major corporation, and you would like to persuade the management team to do something about the employment gap between Blacks and Whites in your company. . . .

Assessing the management teams' attitudes about the topic via Ordered Alternatives Questionnaire.
  1. Where do they fall (as a group) in the alternative range?
  2. How ego involved are they

If you gather the data from the above audience survey, you will be able to design favorable messages. There are two types of effects that you should consider.
  1. Contrast effect : occurs when a message is perceived as further away from the person's anchor than it really is. The receiver exaggerates the difference between the message's position and his or her own position. This happens when the message falls in the range of recipient's latitude of rejection.
  2. Assimilation effect : occurs when a message is received that falls within the individual's latitude of acceptance, the receiver subconsciously minimizes the difference between the message's position and his or her own position.
  3. B oomerang effect : is when the message actually causes a person to change his or her mind in the opposite direction.
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