Social judgment theory holds that when a message is heard the receiver of the message immediately forms an opinion on the matter. The individual then categorized the opinion into one of three divisions known as attitude zones. From this point on, every new message about the same topic is compared with ones present point of view on the subject.
Social judgment theory was introduced by psychologist Muzafer Sherif (Griffin, 2006, p. 207). As a part of his theory, Sherif, has three classifications for responses to messages that he calls attitude zones (Griffin, 2006, p. 207). The first zone is called the latitude of acceptance and represents statements that individuals feel are true and/or believable (Griffin, 2006, p. 207). The second attitude zone is the latitude of rejection. This zone shows the statements an individual sees as objectionable or unreasonable (Griffin, 2006, p. 207). The third and final zone is the latitude of noncommitment. These are the statements that the individual has no opinion on (Griffin, 2006, p. 207). It is the same as marking a survey with undecided or no opinion. The placement of this information into zones can help one determine anothers ego-involvement, which shows how crucial the issue is to the person.
In my original assumption on social judgment theory I stated it would be interesting to see the different opinions on a single topic. For the purpose of this study, I have selected gambling as the topic. Rather then observe those around me and record their actions I decided the results would be more accurate to do interviews. I spoke to three individuals and read them each the same seven statements I came up with about gambling. I followed the outline and directions given by Em Griffin in Communications: A First Look At Communication Theory (Griffin, 2006, p. 206). The statements were as follows:a. You have got to play to winb. Slot machines are riggedc. The House always winsd. Gamblers are more likely to drink than non-gamblerse. Anyone okay with losing money will make a good gamblerf. Ones chances in gambling are 50/50g.
Gambling helps the nations economyEach subject was then asked to perform three tasks with the list of statements infront of them; 1) underline the statement that mostly closely represented their point of view, 2) circle the statements that seem reasonable to them, and 3) cross out those that are objectionable. None of the participates gave me their opinion about the subject of gambling (Griffin, 2006, 206-07). They were instructed to only follow the instructions using the list of statements. To keep the data as unbiased as possible, I selected three subjects from different backgrounds and marital status. Subject #1 is a white female in her mid-twenties (personal communication, October 10, 2006). Subject #2 is a black female in her late-thirties (personal communication, October 19, 2006). Subject #3 is white male in his mid-twenties (personal communication, October 24, 2006).
Two out of three of the subjects gave similar attitude zones. Subject #1 and #3 selected statements a, f, and g (you got to play to win, chances in gambling 50/50, and helps nations economy, respectfully) as acceptable. When it came to statements they could reject, subject #1 and #3 both selected d (gamblers are more likely to drink than non-gamblers), with subject # 1 adding e (anyone okay with losing money will make a good gambler). Subjects #1 and #3 also placed statements b and c (slot machines are rigged and house always wins, respectfully) into the non-commitment category, with subject #3 adding statement e (anyone okay with losing money will make a good gambler). Subject #1 and #3 had six out of seven statements in the same attitude zone. The only difference between the two was statement e (anyone okay with losing money will make a good gambler).
By contrast, subject #2 had only one statement in the same attitude zone as subject #1 or #3. Subject #2 placed statements b, c, and e (slot machines are rigged and house always wins, and anyone okay with losing money will make a good gambler, respectfully) in the acceptance zone. In the attitude zone of rejection, subject #2 choose statements d, f, and g (gamblers are more likely to drink than non-gamblers, ones chances in gambling are 50/50, and helps nations economy, respectfully), with statement d being the only similar statement to subject #1 and #3. Finally, subject #2 placed statement a (you have to play to win) into the non-commitment attitude zone. Using the data compiled from the three interviews, I was able to evaluate each participates level of ego-involvement for the subject of gambling.
Subjects #1 and #3 had similar attitude zones and likewise when it came to ego-involvement. Both subjects reveled to me after I made my ego-involvement assumption that they enjoy and support gambling (personal communication, October 10, 2006 & personal communication, October 24, 2006). This makes perfect sense just looking at their attitudes of acceptance. They each had statement g (gambling helps the nations economy) as one in that zone.
On the other hand, it was apparent that subject #2 did not find the subject as crucial as subject #1 and #3. Subject #2s attitude zones showed me one of two things; she either strongly opposes gambling or she just does not care about the subject. After making my hypothesis I spoke to subject #2 about her feelings on the subject. She conveyed to me that she was a very pessimistic person when it comes to gambling (personal communication, October 19, 2006). She rejected the notion that gambling helps the nations economy (statement g) because she feels too many people are losing money to agree that it helps the nation (personal communication, October 19, 2006). Another reason she gave me was her age (personal communication, October 19, 2006). Unlike subject #1 and #3, subject #2 is almost forty. She says she is closer to retirement and is no longer a spring chicken and needs to worry more about saving money and less about what it means to double down on 16 in blackjack (personal communication, October 19, 2006).
As stated in my assumption, I was curious to see the ranging opinions from different individuals on any given subject. I choose gambling as my subject because it is a very controversial topic. The data that I received from my three interviews lead me to believe that the variance on the subject was due to age and that different generations will think differently.
Griffin, E. (2006). Communications: A First Look At Communication Theory.
New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
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