Social Judgement Theory

The United States has been plagued by far too many mass shootings over the past year alone.  A movie theater in Colorado, a temple in Wisconsin and an elementary school in Connecticut have become targets for the most heinous crimes in recent memory.  The “Demand a Plan” campaign is making it clear to the people of the United States that the time is now to act on the issue of gun control and regulation.  The “Demand a Plan” campaign’s use of these terrible moments in our recent history is a brilliant strategy in trying to spread the word that it has taken too many lives before any action in Congress.

In addressing the persuasiveness of the “Demand a Plan” campaign on myself, the social judgment theory can be directly applied.  This theory states that every person’s attitude on a topic will fall within a certain continuum from -3 to 3.  Every person will have a latitude of acceptance, or the span in which that person will agree with the message.  On the outer ends come the latitudes of non-commitment, which is the space in which the person is tolerant of the message but does not fully agree.  The latitudes of rejection are the remaining area where the person would reject the speakers message.  The attempt of a persuasive message is to find the most common area of non-commitment to place the advertisement.  In this way, the advertisement gets you to question your current beliefs.  It will get the person to think about their stance which can end in a reassessment of their beliefs or as this theory predicts, a change in belief closer to the advertisements attitude.  Any message that falls within the latitude of acceptance, even at the far end would not be persuasive because of the assimilation error.  Conversely, any message within the latitude of rejection, even if it is right next to the latitude of non-commitment, will not be persuasive because of contrasted error.

In this case of gun control, -3 would be the passionate supporters of our Constitutional right to bear arms while a 3 would indicate those who are eager to usher in immediate and radical gun control laws.   My attitude would fall around -1, where I am a supporter of people to bear arms.  My latitude of acceptance would go from -1.5 to 1, where I would be open to messages closer to bearing arms and would also except very mild gun control laws.  My latitude of non-commitment would go from -1.51 to -2 on one side and a 1.1 to 2 the positive side.  My latitude of rejection would then be -2.1 to -3 and 2.1 to 3.  After viewing the ad I would place its attitude on gun control at a 1.5, which would fall within my latitude of non-commitment.  The crimes that have been committed in recent years, especially the ones brought forward by this advertisement have shaken my trust in humanity.  Even though I believe that people are guaranteed their rights to arms by the Constitution, this ad has had me question human ability to handle such weapons of killing power.  The advertisements ability to find an area that falls within a latitude of non-commitment makes it very persuasive.  The curvilinear graph of attitude and discrepancy can also be very important to the persuasiveness of this message.  The atrocities mentioned made the issue of gun control one of very high attitude.  Once again its ability to find an area of non-commitment, one where there is a moderate level of discrepancy, makes this advertisement very persuasive.

JW Kieckhefer

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