The Relationship of Attitudinal Components to Trust in Media

  • Stamm K
  • Dube R
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Abstract

Past research has proposed that the receiver's relationship to the content of a message will affect credibility attributed to the source. Current literature proposes explanatory mechanisms that require empirical distinctions among the various components of attitude, yet researchers often employ measures of “attitude extremity” that confound these components. This study follows Guttman's mathematical theory of attitude and its distinctions between four attitude components: direction, intensity, closure, and involvement. In a survey of 358 adults, relationships between trust in television news and newspaper coverage and each of the four components were tested for six current issues. Significant relationships were found for all four components. Results suggest that existing hypotheses relating credibility to attitude have not anticipated that credibility might be related to more than one component. Interactions occur in which the relation of credibility to one component would be modified by the presence of some other component. Theorizing that introduces contingencies into the consideration of questions dealing with credibility is suggested.

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Authors

  • Keith Stamm

  • Ric Dube

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