There is a phenomenon recurrently noted in the persuasion literature, called the sleeper effect, in which there is a greater ‘delayed’ than ‘initial’ impact on attitudes of a persuasive message in the presence of a discounting cue (Hovland & Weiss 1951; Gruder et al. 1978; Pratkanis et al. 1988). A hypothesized mechanism accounting for the sleeper effect that is debated in the literature is dissociation; where the association between the discounting cue and the message content become separated in memory over time (Kumkale & Albarracin 2004). Despite finding the sleeper effect in several studies (Gruder et al. 1978; Pratkanis et al 1988; Mazursky & Schul 1988), the mechanisms underlying the process of increased attitude change over time have yet to be fully conceptualized and conclusively tested. A similar effect is hypothesized in social influence literature, called social cryptomnesia; whereby the negative source identity comparison and the validation of message content are dissociated (Perez et al. 1995). The result is said to be conversion, or latent and internalized attitude change (Van Avermaet 2001). Although never empirically tested, social cryptomnesia provides an additional theoretical level to the sleeper effect by suggesting aspects from social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner 1979), such as ingroup favoritism and outgroup discrimination, as potential explanations for dissociation. The aim of this study is to further conceptualize and empirically test the proposed mechanisms underlying increased persuasion over time. Planned future experimentation will investigate the roles of potential mediators and moderators of the effect, including inter group bias and information processing. The study is important, because the internalized attitude change characteristic of this process is more persistent (Moscovici 1985), and persistent attitude change is more predictive of behavior (Petty & Cacioppo 1986). The study is expected to have broad theoretical implications, as well as practical implications for interventions involving marketing communications.
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- Source Misattribution for the Sake of Attitude Change: A Conceptualization of the Role of Social Identity in Inducing Dissociative Processing