Credibility and persuasion: A sociopsychological approach to changing the attitudes toward energy conservation of preservice elementary school science teachers



Tested was the effect of two persuasive messages presented by a credible communicator on the attitudes toward energy conservation of 180 preservice elementary teachers. The study asked the following questions: (1) Can attitudes toward energy conservation be positively changed with a brief, belief-laden communication? (2) Do positive attitude gains between pre- and post-tests, if any, dissipate within three weeks following the treatment? (3) Do the integrated and the nonintegrated communications affect energy attitudes of three subgroups (abstract, concrete differentiator and concrete thinkers) of the sample differently? The important finding was that both experimental treatments, integrated and nonintegrated, were equally effective and significantly more effective in attitude change than the control. Secondly, the finding that neither experimental treatment dissipated in effect, at least for three weeks, suggests some duration of brief treatment periods. And finally, the attitude changes are as likely to occur when concrete differentiators are presented with a nonintegrated as an integrated treatment, but abstract thinkers exposed to the integrated treatment and concrete thinkers exposed to the nonintegrated treatment sustain a changed attitude to a greater degree than other combinations of treatment and cognitive processing styles.