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Accessibility Theory

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Accessibility Theory Accessibility Theory is a model of attitude and behavior of relations. In the Accessibility Theory attitudes will predict behavior if they can be activated from memory at a time of decision. In order for this to transpire, the attitude must come spontaneously to mind in a memory. Second, the attitude must influence perceptions of an issue or person serving as a “filter” through which the object is viewed. (Fazio & Roskos –Ewoldsen, 1994 P. 85) Accessibility Theory complements the Reasoned Action Theory and the Theory of Planned Behavior approach because people carefully consider the consequence of behaving in a particular manner and weigh out the pros and cons of situation. When all else fails the decision is based more on spontaneity, channeling a thought or memory. The decisions however can also be based on how accessible attitudes are and how likely objects, good or bad can capture the attention of a person. Research supports these propositions (Krays, 1995) because studies found that individuals who were in touch with favorable attitudes toward a certain topic or product were more inclined to select or choose those with less accessible attitudes. Attitudes play a very important role because they range from strong attitudes to weak attitudes. When a person has a strong attitude toward something most likely the persons mind is made up and set in his or her ways. Vice versa with a weaker attitude which is more susceptible to change. When strong and weak attitudes are already implemented in the mind, thought and memory are automatically activated. Accessibility is also known as “getting in touch with your feelings”. This also can be described as association. Accessibility and association go hand in hand because the more frequently that people mentally remember the association between an object and evaluation the stronger the connection will be. Accessibility Theory can be used to describe customer satisfaction and loyalty to brands. Research has conveyed that customer loyalty is largely influenced by attitudes toward brands. In an empirical study, findings of evaluations based on direct experience were more accessible from memory than those based on direct experience. One of the possible evaluations based on direct experience is customer satisfaction, Fazio and Zanna (1978, 1981). If Fazio and Zanna’s theory hold true customer satisfaction should brand loyalty more so than brand attitudes that are formed by indirect experiences. However Berger and Mitchell (1989) found that indirect experiences such as advertising hold just as true as direct experiences. Customer satisfaction is defined as an evaluative summary of direct consumption experience based on the discrepancy between prior expectation and the actual performance perceived after consumption (TSE & Wilton, 1988; Y1 1990). Satisfaction is derived from past experiences and because of this it influences a person in his or her next action. In this case purchasing or post purchasing a brand. Loyalty is also a consequence of satisfaction and brand attitudes. Dick and Basu (1994) defined loyalty as a behavioral response that is expressed over time through the decisions that were made and its alternatives. This describes brand loyalty because it may be a reason for repurchasing an item from a specific brand because of past attitudes associated with it. However loyalty does not work in all cases other factors may be involved such as budget, inconvenience, and inaccessibility. Involvement on the other hand makes it easier for brands to be accessible, by offering sale promotions, coupons, rebates and price redactors. In contrast, natural sources of personal relevance are relatively stable and personally relevant knowledge are derived from past experiences and stored in long term memory. Involvement had often been regarded as one of the important moderators that determine purchase decisions (Celsi & Olsen, 1988). Involvement is generally defined as perceived personal relevance and is classified as either situational or enduring. In this study involvement was tested by asking a total of 100 participants in the general population ages (19-55) to rate products in household and cosmetic categories in terms of importance, value, interestingness, want, necessity, relatedness, and meaningfulness using the scale of involvement constructed by Zaichkowsky (1985). The scale contains some adjectives classically associated with a state of involvement, and others normally associated with the measurement of attitude. The results from the experiment were product involvement was higher in cosmetics than household goods. Cosmetics are purchased for social reasons (personal appearance) and participants may have relied more heavily on external indicators. Research shows that high involvement is usually greater in categories other than household products because these products are used daily and aren’t given much thought, whereas electronics are rated in high involvement. This may be because the attitudes toward ads and or corporate images that are formed during high involvement may become deep rooted and chronically accessible in memory. In regarding corporate images or in politics a study in accessibility, described as chronic accessibility examines the effects of message frames in political advertisements on voter cognitions. This research used a controlled experiment to present political ads framed as either issue or character oriented in a simulated political campaign to participants. The study explores whether the ads focusing on issues or character would have an impact on audience message interpretations and political evaluations. Attempts to frame messages in political ads can have the potential to activate distinct cognitions and affect later interpretations. By focusing on distinct issue positions or character qualities of candidates to the exclusivity of others, political ads have the potential to reactivate thoughts and this is what likely has been defined as framing. Ideas or concepts that are conjured up in one’s mind cognitively by the media can be either enhanced or weakened by what is chronically available in the minds of the audience. These framing effects are explained by the Cognitive Accessibility Theory. To differentiate media induced Temporary Accessibility from Chronic Accessibility is Chronic Accessibility refers to concepts or schemas that are always easily accessed from memory. Chronically Accessible Constructs tend to have lower activation thresholds and are therefore relatively easy to activate from memory when primed by external cues (Roskos-Ewoldsen, 1997). The results concluded that framing effects are found in political advertising specifically if it proposed on focusing on issues or characters of political candidates. Political ads could have a powerful effect on voters’ individual cognitive responses in political evaluations. Other experiments related to and consistent with Accessible Theory deal with racial identity and preference. In an experiment that interviewed White and Native American kindergartners and first graders were asked by a White or Indian experimenter to answer questions regarding their racial identity and preference. In doing so the experimenters showed the children either a white or brown colored doll and asked which doll associated more to them. Many of the Native American children by 70% misidentified which doll looked like them in grade K. Where 90% of the white children correctly chose which doll looked most like them in grade one. Aboud (1977) found that misidentifications were made more often by Native children in kindergarten than in grade one. The explanations that have been given to the findings mentioned are examined by three hypotheses, the psycho-dynamically based escape hypothesis, the light color bias hypothesis based on social learning principles and the cognitive explanation derived from the Accessibility Theory. The Escape bias hypothesis suggests that minority children may wish to escape minority status and be white because of the stresses and generated conflict between the child’s racial identity and what the perceived value of the race in society is. The Color bias hypothesis describes that children learn that light colors are associated with being good, clean and nice; and dark colors with being bad, dirty and strange Williams and Morland (1976). The Construct Accessibility Theory associated with the cognitive explanation hypothesis describes more accurate self-identification when portrayed by a similar race to a dissimilar one. The more often of a display of an object or message the more it becomes relatable and likeable according to Accessibility. Along with the self-identification experiment the children were asked questions regarding the preference of objects between a white and brown cup and a white and brown rabbit. The questions followed as: Point to the rabbit (cup) that you would like to play with that is a nice rabbit (cup) that is a nice color. The analysis of the object preference experiment were majority of both White and Native children chose the lighter color object, this proving the light color bias hypothesis. Going back to the self-identity experiment (D’Agostino, 1971) revealed that 97% of all subjects correctly recognized the pictures as being those of White and Indian children and were able to apply the appropriate racial labels to themselves and also the [pictures corresponded to the children’s conception of White and Indian individuals]. The experiment did show that the Native children significantly chose the correct race when presented by a Native experimenter rather than a White experimenter clearly proving the Construct Theory. When asked by a white experimenter an increase of Native children chose the picture of the white child. The solution for this is unknown but can be contemplated as some children were a mix from either White and Native parents or the Escape hypothesis holds true in some of the responses. The Accessibility Theory holds true in each experiment conducted in the research discussed. The theory sticks to its main points and has a broad scope of different angles in which it can be used, as shown in the three different examples described. Accessibility Theory shows consistency and can be paired up with other theories concluding in valid points. Simple and to the point allows for easy understanding regarding the main focus. It is clearly shown that Accessibility Theory touches up with relationships to other known and conducted studies. According to Thomas Kuhn’s criteria of a good theory the Accessibility Theory meets the standards. Concluding, a thought or memory can affect or influence an individual’s view on certain aspects in society or personal life. It also shows that the more a message or object is viewed the likely it is too be accepted, liked and valued. Also new ideas and associations can be triggered by cognitive process in a person’s mind.
References:
Perloff, R. M. (2010). The dynamics of persuasion: Communication and attitudes in the 21st century (4th edition.). New York, NY: Routledge. – Chapter 2 and Chapter 3
Jung-Chae Suh and Youjae Yi. (2006). When Brand Attitudes affect the Customer Satisfaction- Loyalty Relation: The Moderating Role of Product Involvement. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 16(2), 145-155. 145-148, 152-153.
Fuyuan Shen. (2004). Chronic Accessibility and Individual Cognitions: Examining the Effects of Message Frames in Political Advertisements. Journal of communication, March 2004, (pp. 123-137). 123-126, 128,131,133 http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/10.1037/h0079985 Database: PsycARTICLES. Corenblum, B., Brandon U, MB, Canada Annis, R. C. (1987). Racial Identity and Preference in Native ad White Canadian Children. Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science.
http://www.acrwebsite.org/search/view-conference-proceedings.aspx?Id=6631

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