Quality versus difficulty: Alternative nterpretations of the relationship between self-esteem and persuasibility1


  • 1

    This study was supported in part by grant number MH 1792201 from the National Institute of Mental Health to the senior author


Several investigators have argued that the conflicting findings concerning the relationship between self-esteem and persuasibility may be resolved by considering the difficulty or complexity of the persuasive communication presented to subjects The present experiment is directed at testing the hypothesis that the quality of persuasive communications rather than difficulty determines the form of the self-esteem-persuasibility relationship.

Three hundred thirty-six persons rated the quality and difficulty of 17 communications used in previous studies Results supported the hypothesis that persuasive communications that found negative monotonic relationships between self-esteem and persuasibility were rated lower in quality (but equal in difficulty) than communications which produced nonmonotonic or positive monotonic relationships between the two variables.