The role of mood and message ambiguity in the interplay of heuristic and systematic processing



The mechanisms by which mood states influence attitude judgments in persuasion settings are delineated in terms of current dual-process theorizing. With an emphasis on mechanisms that may operate when the evaluative implications of message content are ambiguous. In a preliminary test of hypotheses concerning such circumstances, college-aged subjects were put into a happy or sad mood and then read a message containing unambiguous strong, unambiguous weak, or ambiguous arguments, which was attributed to a highly credible source (heuristic cue) When message content was ambiguous, sad (as compared to happy) subjects' attitudes were more influenced by heuristic processing, and their message-related thoughts were biased by the heuristic cue. These and other results are discussed within a dual-processing framework, and compared to other social cognition theorizing on the impact of affect on social judgment.