Michael Burgoon (Ph.D., Michigan State University, 1970) is an associate professor of communication at Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824. Marshall Cohen (M.A., University of Florida, 1974) is a doctoral student in the speech department at the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611. Charles L. Montgomery (Ph.D., University of Florida, 1977) is an assistant professor of English at Clemson University, Clem-son, SC. Michael D. Miller (Ph.D., University of Florida, 1978) is an assistant professor of communication at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HA. This study accepted for publication May 17, 1978.


This investigation synthesized research from several related areas to produce a model of resistance to persuasion based upon variables not considered by earlier congruity and inoculation models. Support was found for the prediction that the kind of critical response set induced and the target of the criticism are mediators of resistance to persuasion. The more critical acts are focused on arguments presented in a persuasive message, the more likely that the critical act will not be distracting and therefore promote counterarguing which will lead people to be resistant to subsequent persuasive messages arguing on the same side of given attitudinal issue. When criticism is less central to message variables and focuses on speaker and/or delivery characteristics, distraction occurs which decreases the probability of counterarguing and induces people to be vulnerable to forthcoming persuasive messages. This is especially true when negative criticism of speaker characteristics reduces threat to present attitudes and reduces motivation to counterargue to protect privately held beliefs. A completely counterbalanced design employing several manipulation checks was created to rule out competing explanations for differential resistance to persuasion.