Sequential Information Integration and Belief Trajectories: An Experimental Study Using Candidate Evaluations
Using an extended model of information integration theory, the sequential information integration model (SIIM), the effects of initially presented information on belief trajectories were investigated. SIIM predicts (a) damped oscillatory trajectories when congruent information and incongruent information are presented alternately; and (b) smaller amplitudes of trajectories when initial beliefs have greater weight. An experiment was conducted that utilized a hypothetical election (N=201). Participants initially received specific (vs. no) information about candidates’ positions on issues and then indicated their evaluation of the candidates 11 times in response to additional pieces of information that were provided over time. As predicted, belief trajectories were found to have damped oscillatory patterns. The amplitude of the trajectories was smaller for participants with strong party identification than for those with weak party identification. Implications of these findings for theories of persuasion and political decision-making are discussed.
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