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Inoculation Theory

Definition

Inoculation theory was devised by William McGuire in the early 1960s as a strategy to protect attitudes from change—to confer resistance to counterattitudinal influences, whether such influences take the form of direct attacks or sustained pressures.

Nature of Inoculation

Inoculation theory consists of two elements: threat and refutational preemption. The threat component of an inoculation treatment raises the possibility that a person may encounter persuasive challenges to existing attitudes. It is designed to get people to acknowledge the vulnerability of existing attitudes to potential change. Threat functions as the motivational catalyst to resistance. Once a person accepts that attitudes are vulnerable to change, they will expend the effort to strengthen attitudes. The refutational preemption component of an inoculation treatment raises—and then refutes—specific arguments contrary to attitudes. It ...

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