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Hovland Yale Model Essay For Spm

Transcript of The Hovland-Yale Model

The Hovland-Yale Model
The Source
One important characteristic is the attractiveness of the communicator.

Attractive communicators are more persuasive (Petty and Cacioppo, 1986)

E.g. Celebrities like Cheryl Cole and George Clooney appear in advertisments
The Message
Messages are more effective if we think they are not intended to persuade.
A message can be more effective if it creates a moderate level of fear.

E.g. If secondary school students had fear about the timing of an upcoming exam and the teachers included advice about how to make the most of this time, they were more likely to carry out these activities
The Audience
Younger people are more susceptible to persuasive messages than adults or the elderly.

Martin (1997) found that whereas older children had a good understanding of the persuasive intent of advertisememtns, younger children did not.

Low and high-intelligence audiences are less easily persuaded than those with moderate intelligence.
With intelligent audiences, presenting both sides of an arguement is more effective.
Methodological Issues
Much of the early research carried out by Hovland to develop this model used students and army personel.
As Hovland himself pointed out, it is perhaps inappropriate to generalise from these samples to the general population.

These groups had an age, wealth and education profile which was untypical of the general public.

Attractive sources are not necessarily the most influential
Research suggests that celebrities are not as effective as we might think.

O'Mahoney and Meenaghan (1997) found that celebrity endorsements were not regarded as particularly convincing or believable.

Gender bias
Research suggests that women are more susceptible to persuasive communications than men.

Eagly and Carli (1981) explained this in terms of socialisation differences - women are socialised to conform and therefore are more open to social influence.
Fear appeals do work
Research has shown that fear appeals can be persuasive if they do not petrify the audience with fear and if the audience is informed how to avoid the danger.

This was supported in a real-life anti-drug campaign in Australia in 2008.
The campaign used moderate fear but also emphasised choice.
78% of 13-24 year olds felt that the campaign had changed how they felt about drugs.
Carl Iver Hovland was a psychologist working at Yale University and the US army during WWII.

He studied attitude change and persuasion.
Carl Hovland
He came up with the
Hovland-Yale model
Carl Hovland discovered that effective persuasion could be achieved by focusing on who says what to whom.

3 factors...

Full transcript

Carl Hovland set up a research team at Yale University which looked into the nature of persuasion. During his years at the university he developed the Hovland-Yale Model. This model states that there several factors that will affect how likely a change of attitude through persuasion is, after all behavioural change cannot occur without attitude change also having taken place. The three most prominent factors are the source, the message and the audience.

This has led psychologists to look at the science of persuasion to discover how to change attitudes with the ultimate goal of changing behaviour.


The Source Credibility theory states that people more likely to be persuaded when a source presents itself as credible, for example Bochner and Insko found that people were more likely to trust a sleep expert than a non-sleep expert, on matters surrounding sleep.


The Hovland-Yale model says the content of the message is an important factor. O’Keefe’s meta-analysis of research on one-sided and two-sided messages found that two-sided messages influence attitudes more than one-sided messages, as long as the two sided argument was eventually gave a solid opinion. So an argument is more effective if you show both sides of the argument, but then show why your opinion is correct.


The audience strongly effects how likely someone is to be persuaded, for example McGuire found that more intelligent audiences are more likely to be persuaded by valid arguments because they have a longer attention span and can understand the arguments better.

The cultural differences of an audience can also affect how persuasive an argument can be. For example Wang et al found Americans prefer products that offered ‘separateness’ whereas Chinese prefer products that offered ‘togetherness’. This suggests different cultures would be more influences by messages which back up their opinions.

Evaluation of the Hovland-Yale Model

+ Grounding breaking – this traditional approach to persuasion and attitude change was one the earliest attempts to investigate the topic area, this acted as a catalyst, meaning that a lot of more research was done into the area.

+ Real world application – It dealt with attitude change in practical ways and, indeed, much of the research is still relevant today and can be seen in advertising, speech writing and use by ‘spin doctors’  such as Alastair Campbell.

– Research findings – There has been a wealth of research into the Hovland-Yale model, a lot of which criticises the model.

– Doesn’t explain how persuasion actually happens – Perhaps the greatest weakness of the Hovland-Yale approach is that it only really concentrates on the steps in the persuasion process, and doesn’t really offer an explanation of how persuasion actually occurs.

– Assumption that understanding a message leads to persuasion – The model assumes that attitude change always derives from an understanding of a message. This is obviously an important factor and probably the main reason behind persuasion and attitude change, but this does not guarantee that people are persuaded. For example, the Elaboration Likelihood model shows that persuasion can still occur even when a message is not fully understood or learned.

– Methodological issues – A lot of the research into persuasion and attitude measurement is faulty. For example, one of the main methods used is self-reports such as questionnaires, these can be unreliable and result in invalid date. Also standardised measurements scales, for example where participants have to rate their level of agreement to a series of attitude statements, are often very subjective to each individual, again leading to invalid data. This means that the theory the data is based upon must also be invalid to some extent.

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