The Effect of Political Party on Processing and Attitudes
Our study investigated how superficial and systematic processing influences people’s memory and attitudes. In our experiment, all subjects read 2 sets of excerpts from hypothetical political campaign advertisements with or without political party labels as the independent variable. We measured the level of processing and the subjects’ attitudes towards each candidate and their arguments. Previous research suggests that political party labels influence people’s attitudes about political issues and trigger the use of superficial processing, we expected a person who identified with one party to express favorable attitude evaluations of a candidate of the same party and less favorable attitude evaluations of a candidate in another party. If subjects did not identify with either the Republican or Democratic Party, we predicted that they would rate the candidates and their excerpts neutrally. We further hypothesized that subjects in the labeled groups, subjects who read excerpts either labeled Democratic or Republican, would process information superficially (earning low memory test scores), while people in the no-label group would process information systematically (earning high memory test scores). Our results are inconclusive about the effect labels have on processing, but suggest that attitude evaluation is impacted by the strength of group affiliation. Implications of our ndings are discussed and compared to previous research.