Possible Mechanisms of Order Matching Effects in Attitude Persuasion
Attitudes , Persuasion , Affect , Cognition , Order
The order persuasion matching effect occurs when the sequencing of information within a persuasive message matches that of the information used to generate said attitude. This matching effect generates stronger attitude change compared to mismatching conditions. This effect has been documented for decades, first appearing in early studies investigating the affective/cognitive structure of attitudes. The order persuasion matching effect was interpreted as evidence for affective/cognitive matching, but subsequent studies have called this interpretation into question, with the most recent research suggesting that the effect may occur due to a violation of expectations or preferences of the nature of persuasive information. The present studies’ goal was to provide more insight into the mechanisms driving the effect with focus on two non-exclusive interpretations. Study 1 explored the possibility that matching conditions enhanced processing via surprise at information that violated expectancies/preferences by manipulating argument quality to assess amount of processing across matching/mismatching conditions. Study 2 examined if the effect was a result of reduced counterarguing of persuasive information due to violation of expectations by employing arguments. Participants were presented arguments of ambiguous quality, which was expected to produce stronger counterarguing effects compared to strong or weak arguments. Both studies presented null findings counter to initial predictions; as a whole, the order persuasion matching effect was not observed in either experiment.