This study investigates personal values as a key consideration in social communications designed to influence attitudes. One hundred and sixty-five students participated in an experiment to examine the impact of personal values on a particular social issue, the “Bottle Bill.” Subjects received one of four advertising treatments designed to stimulate attitudes toward the social stimuli. Source (expert versus non expert) and type of argument (positive versus negative) were manipulated in the advertisements.
Consistent with prior research, results indicated that individuals who attached more importance to certain personal values had a more favorable attitude toward a social message. A positive argument had a significant main effect on favorable attitudes toward the “Bottle Bill.” Personal values increased the impact of a positive argument message and altered the effect of expertise cues on overall attitude. The significance of the results for communication strategies and attitude changes are discussed.