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A study of the effects of professional authority on the attitude change of high school sophomores

This research project was designed to test, directly, the effects of perceived professional authority on producing attitude change among high school sophomores. The study utilized a social psychological theoretical orientation to examine a specific aspect of socially mediated information, namely, persuasive communication as it is influenced by the source or communicator of the persuasive message, “Authority, as it has been defined in this study, includes two factors: (1) the prestige and (2) the credibility of the source. The two professions selected were that of a physician and a social worker. It was expected that the physician, by virtue of his “higher perceived ,” authority as evidenced by previous research would be more effective in producing attitude change than would the social worker. Data was obtained by means of a modified version of the tradition pretest-posttest with control group design. Alcohol usage and abusage was selected as the topic of the persuasive communication. The dependent variable selected for study was the students’ attitude toward alcohol usage, as measured by the scores they received on an attitude instrument. The independent variable was the perceived authority of the source or communicator. The experiment utilized 140 students randomly selected from a total population of approximately 600 sophomore students. The 140 students were matched by triplets into six different experimental conditions from the scores each student received on an alcohol knowledge questionnaire. The experiment was conducted on two different days. On the first day, the students received the alcohol knowledge questionnaire; on the second day, the pretest, stimulus, and posttest were administered. A single actor, assuming both the physician and the social worker roles, delivered an identical message concerning the detrimental physical and psychological effects of alcohol usage. Statistical analyses utilized an analysis of covariance. The results showed that the experimental manipulation of perceived authority had no significant effect upon the students’ attitudes toward the use and abuse of alcohol. In other words, the physician failed to be more successful in producing attitude change than the social worker. Implications for the field of social work are mainly speculative. Social work directly involves the process of communication. However, the social work profession has infrequently dealt directly with the issue of influence (persuasion) as it is related to attitude change. The question of authority as it related to the effectiveness of the social worker still remains unanswered.
Date01 May 1970
CreatorsKelley, Sandra Lee, Myers, Lane Alan
Source SetsPortland State University
Detected LanguageEnglish
SourceDissertations and Theses

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