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Elaboration and Attitude Strength: The New Meta-cognitive Perspective

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Abstract

The effect of elaboration (i.e., information processing) on attitude strength has been a key prediction of some of the most influential theories of persuasion over the past few decades. This article provides a new look at this relationship. After reviewing support for the notion that structural processes (i.e., knowledge acquisition, structural consistency, and attitude accessibility) drive the effect of elaboration on attitude strength, we examine recent work investigating the role of meta-cognitive factors in this domain. Based on recent evidence, we propose that the effect of elaboration on attitude strength depends largely on people's perceptions of their own elaboration and their beliefs that more elaboration produces better judgments that can be held with greater certainty. We highlight the role of naïve theories in these effects, suggesting that they might be more malleable than previously known, and call for future research into some of the important remaining questions in this area that have yet to be fully explored.

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