Social Judgment and Internet Explorer

The theory I have chosen to discuss is Social Judgment Theory. This model operates on the fact that people already have a stand on a topic – their anchor point – and that when they view a message about that topic, the mindset they already had will have a heavy effect on whether or not that message will be persuasive to them. The theory uses a number line that goes from 3 to -3, with 0 being indifferent – on this number line, a person plots where their anchor point on a subject is, and then notes their latitudes of acceptance, noncommitment, and rejection.

The latitude of acceptance is where people will place things that they find acceptable to their anchor point. Things that fall outside of the latitude of acceptance can instead fall into the latitude of noncommitment – or something that their attitude is neither accepting nor rejecting (in other words, one is indifferent). Beyond that is the latitude of rejection, where people will sort things that are absolutely unacceptable to their anchor point. Surprisingly, despite the title of “latitude of acceptance”, a person is more likely to be persuaded by a message that they filter into their latitude of noncommitment. However, it is not so surprising when viewed in this way; if you are listening to something that you are completely accepting of (latitude of acceptance), you’re not actually listening to it, but rather letting it flow as pleasant background noise. If you are listening to something that is outside of your comfort zone (latitude of rejection), something that you completely reject and are appalled by, you are going to dismiss anything that that message has to say because its ideas are unacceptable to you; you won’t hear it. On the other hand, if you hear a message on something you do not (yet) have a strong opinion of, you are more likely to listen to and be persuaded by it, making the latitude of noncommitment the attitude where most persuasion can effectively happen.

I chose to apply this theory to myself and to the advertisement above – the “honest” version of the new Internet Explorer commercial. My anchor point of Internet Explorer is at a solid 2, as it is the internet browser I have always used and I prefer its qualities over other browsers. My latitude of acceptance can be between 3 and 1, my latitude of noncommitment between 1 and -1, and my latitude of rejection between -1 and -3. I ranked this ad’s message at a -1 – it was amusing to me and the truths made me laugh, but it did not change my opinion enough to move my anchor point; it bordered heavily on my latitude of rejection, but I acknowledged it. However, I believe that this message would actually be persuasive to people who were unsure of which internet browser to choose, to those who were wondering if they should go with the new Internet Explorer or move to a different browser, or to those who had issues with Internet Explorer. The message shows Internet Explorer’s (dramatically, in my opinion) famed problems with internet speed, viruses, and connectivity issues, which would be matters of important consideration for anyone choosing and internet browser.

-Britney Carter

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