Assignment: Strengths and Weaknesses of Attitude Inoculation

Assignment: Strengths and Weaknesses of Attitude Inoculation

Assignment: Strengths and Weaknesses of Attitude Inoculation

In three full paragraphs, please evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of attitude inoculation. When does it work, when does it not work? Apply it to an example (one that is not listed in your textbook) to support your argument. Your response should include a definition of attitude inoculation, a thorough discussion of both strengths and weaknesses, and a clear application of both to your example.

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Inoculation Theory: A Theoretical and Practical Framework for Conferring Resistance to Pack Journalism Tendencies

Abstract

This study examines the nature of inoculation theory, a process through which attitude change can be resisted in the face of counterattitudinal communication intended to convert or shift existing attitudes, and how it applies to pack journalism, an unethical media practice where herds of journalists repeatedly and widely cover one particular story and storm the targets (i.e., people, buildings, etc.) with their overwhelming presence. Based on inoculation theory’s theoretical assumptions, and by deriving concepts and designs from previous inoculation studies, the authors urge scholars to implement a viable theoretical and practical platform by which inoculation treatments can be executed on journalists to render maximum attitudinal resistance toward the copycat (and unethical) element of pack journalism coverage.

Assignment: Strengths and Weaknesses of Attitude Inoculation

Introduction

Pack journalism is an unethical media practice where herds of journalists repeatedly and widely cover one particular story and storm the targets (i.e., people, buildings, etc.) with their overwhelming presence (Frank, 2003). One usual element of this pack journalism coverage is the sharing and copying of others’ news sources (that is, words, titles, and content) and the eventual reporting of that news in a similar if not identical fashion as the others’ reports (Kann, 1994). This tends to lead to an elimination of independent reporting (Mundy, 1995). Journalists’ attitudes can be made to resist the influence of such lazy and convenient reporting through a well-established, communication process of systematic resistance: inoculation (McGuire, 1961; Pfau, 1995). Although a great deal of literature emphasizes the unethical nature of pack journalism coverage (Berkowitz, 1997; Brock, 1993; Crouse, 1973; Frank, 2003; Gordon et al., 1999; Kann, 1994; Matusitz & Breen, 2005; Mundy, 1995), as well as the need for more independent reporting (Crouse, 1973; Lule, 1992; Stone, 1967), journalism scholars demand that more research be done on pack journalism to better identify its implications and intricacies (Frank, 2003). In addition, since Eagly and Chaiken (1993) argue that more exploration on inoculation is required for further understanding of this theory in practice, this study breaks new ground by attempting to evaluate the relative merits of inoculation in conferring resistance to pack journalist practices.

In view of the fact that a certain number of journalists recognize the wrongfulness of copying others’ sources (i.e., plagiarism) and have attitudes against blatant acts of pack journalism, these journalists are ripe for undergoing inoculation treatments. The results of these treatments should include immunity/resistance to pressures to copy others’ reports. This ultimately facilitates independent reporting and minimizes the tendency or desire to resort to copycat pack journalism coverage. As such, this study first examines the nature of inoculation theory, that is, its main elements (threat and refutational preemption) and its three stages (warning, weak attack, and active defending). Second, this study provides a detailed description of pack journalism and relevant cases that illustrate its copycat and unethical nature. Based on inoculation theory’s theoretical assumptions (Compton & Pfau, 2004; McGuire, 1964), and by deriving concepts and designs from previous inoculation studies, such as studies on smoking prevention (Pfau, 1995; Pfau & Van Bockern, 1994), the authors urge scholars to implement a viable theoretical and practical platform by which inoculation treatments can be executed on journalists to render maximum attitudinal resistance toward the copycat (and unethical) element of pack journalism coverage.

Assignment: Strengths and Weaknesses of Attitude Inoculation

The Nature of Inoculation Theory:

Description and Previous Studies

By focusing on journalists who are regularly exposed to news assignments that compromise their abilities to independently report news – i.e., because they have a hard time doing so due to the pack journalism phenomenon that pervades the vast majority of media outlets (particularly newspaper organizations) – applying inoculation on those journalists may be a successful tactic in strengthening their attitudes against copycat reporting and may contribute to this ideal of independent reporting, otherwise known as enterprise journalism (Crouse, 1973).

In this section, the authors give a detailed analysis of the nature of inoculation theory by explaining two main points. First, a general description of inoculation theory is provided from a variety of scholarly sources. Second, previous inoculation studies are addressed to demonstrate the viability of this theory in multiple applications, including the one this study emphasizes. In short, these two subsections are designed to educate the reader as to the nature of the theory and its general application power in building resistance to persuasion, social influences, and counterattitudinal attacks.
Inoculation Theory

People can learn to protect their existing attitudes from counterattitudinal influences (or persuasion). Put differently, peoples’ attitudes can be inoculated against persuasive communications (e.g., arguments or social influences) that are directed at them by some sources (e.g., peers, journalistic leaders, commercials, authority figures, editors, etc.) (Matusitz & Breen, 2005). Inoculation theory was officially coined by McGuire (1961, 1964). McGuire described it as a process through which attitude change can be resisted in the face of counterattitudinal communication intended to convert or shift existing attitudes (McGuire, 1964; Miller, 2002; Pfau & Burgoon, 1988). As the theory developed, it became more elaborately defined as a method of fortifying existing attitudes to decline persuasive communications before those messages generated and presented themselves to the recipient(s) (Compton & Pfau, 2004; Matusitz & Breen, 2005; Miller, 2002; Pfau, 1992).

Inoculation systematically provides information to receivers prior to persuasive communication. This allows for some expectation that the information will reinforce the receiver’s resistance to future counterattitudinal strikes (Borchers, 2001; Miller, 2002). Inoculation theory also suggests that by methodically delivering low doses of contrasting perspectives, the audience members will develop a stronger immunity and, consequently, will diminish or minimize their responses to those discordant perspectives (Infante, Rancer, & Womack, 1997; McGuire, 1964; Pfau, 1995).

Attitude as a Component of Inoculation

Before inoculation theory can be described further, a solid grasp of what attitude is and how it is generally represented to the scholarly and academic communities is necessary. Why is this? The reason lies in the fact that attitude is a critical concept that is deeply embedded in the model of inoculation theory (Compton & Pfau, 2004; McGuire, 1964; Pfau, 1992, 1995). As such, attitude can be described as a collection of opinions about a specific situation or circumstance (i.e., religion, practices, behaviors, dress styles, etc.) weighted by the evaluation of those opinions (Ajzen, 1988; Miller, 2002). In light of this definition, coupled with the concept of inoculating peoples’ existing attitudes, humans in particular can undergo carefully designed inoculation treatments that maximize the strength of their current attitudes and enable them to refuse embracing communicative messages that are attitudinally dissimilar (Breen & Matusitz, 2005; Matusitz & Breen, 2005)…

ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE CLASS

Discussion Questions (DQ)

  • Initial responses to the DQ should address all components of the questions asked, include a minimum of one scholarly source, and be at least 250 words.
  • Successful responses are substantive (i.e., add something new to the discussion, engage others in the discussion, well-developed idea) and include at least one scholarly source.
  • One or two sentence responses, simple statements of agreement or “good post,” and responses that are off-topic will not count as substantive. Substantive responses should be at least 150 words.
  • I encourage you to incorporate the readings from the week (as applicable) into your responses.

Weekly Participation

  • Your initial responses to the mandatory DQ do not count toward participation and are graded separately.
  • In addition to the DQ responses, you must post at least one reply to peers (or me) on three separate days, for a total of three replies.
  • Participation posts do not require a scholarly source/citation (unless you cite someone else’s work).
  • Part of your weekly participation includes viewing the weekly announcement and attesting to watching it in the comments. These announcements are made to ensure you understand everything that is due during the week.

APA Format and Writing Quality

  • Familiarize yourself with APA format and practice using it correctly. It is used for most writing assignments for your degree. Visit the Writing Center in the Student Success Center, under the Resources tab in LoudCloud for APA paper templates, citation examples, tips, etc. Points will be deducted for poor use of APA format or absence of APA format (if required).
  • Cite all sources of information! When in doubt, cite the source. Paraphrasing also requires a citation.
  • I highly recommend using the APA Publication Manual, 6th edition.

Use of Direct Quotes

  • I discourage overutilization of direct quotes in DQs and assignments at the Masters’ level and deduct points accordingly.
  • As Masters’ level students, it is important that you be able to critically analyze and interpret information from journal articles and other resources. Simply restating someone else’s words does not demonstrate an understanding of the content or critical analysis of the content.
  • It is best to paraphrase content and cite your source.

 

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  • For assignments that need to be submitted to LopesWrite, please be sure you have received your report and Similarity Index (SI) percentage BEFORE you do a “final submit” to me.
  • Once you have received your report, please review it. This report will show you grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors that can easily be fixed. Take the extra few minutes to review instead of getting counted off for these mistakes.
  • Review your similarities. Did you forget to cite something? Did you not paraphrase well enough? Is your paper made up of someone else’s thoughts more than your own?
  • Visit the Writing Center in the Student Success Center, under the Resources tab in LoudCloud for tips on improving your paper and SI score.

Late Policy

  • The university’s policy on late assignments is 10% penalty PER DAY LATE. This also applies to late DQ replies.
  • Please communicate with me if you anticipate having to submit an assignment late. I am happy to be flexible, with advance notice. We may be able to work out an extension based on extenuating circumstances.
  • If you do not communicate with me before submitting an assignment late, the GCU late policy will be in effect.
  • I do not accept assignments that are two or more weeks late unless we have worked out an extension.
  • As per policy, no assignments are accepted after the last day of class. Any assignment submitted after midnight on the last day of class will not be accepted for grading.

Communication

  • Communication is so very important. There are multiple ways to communicate with me: 
    • Questions to Instructor Forum: This is a great place to ask course content or assignment questions. If you have a question, there is a good chance one of your peers does as well. This is a public forum for the class.
    • Individual Forum: This is a private forum to ask me questions or send me messages. This will be checked at least once every 24 hours.

 

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