Forewarning and Resistance When our attitudes come under attack, we can succumb and change the attitude, or we can resist and maintain the attitude. There are different ways to resist. In a series of studies, Julia Jacks and Kimberly Cameron asked people to describe how they manage to resist persuasion in their at- titudes on abortion or the death penalty. They identified seven strategies, the most common being attitude bolstering (“I think about all the reasons I believe the way I do”) and the least common being source derogation (“I look for faults in the person who challenges my belief”). These means of resistance are listed in What leads people to resist? Does it help to be forewarned that your attitude is about to come under attack? Perhaps the toughest audience to per- suade is the one that knows you’re coming. When people know that someone is trying to change their attitude, they become resistant. All they need is some time to collect their thoughts and come up with a good defense. Jonathan Freedman and David Sears first discovered this when they told high school seniors to expect a speech on why teen- agers should not be allowed to drive (an unpopu- lar position, as you can imagine). The students were warned either 2 or 10 minutes before the talk began or not at all. Those who were the victims of a sneak attack were the most likely to succumb to the speaker’s position. Those who had a full 10 minutes of warning were the least likely to agree.
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