Persuasive effects of message ambiguity:
Attitude polarization or depolarization?
The use of an ambiguous message by a public speaker can be regarded as a strategy that increases the number of those who agree with the message content. The use of ambiguity may also have other persuasive effects. The aim of the paper is to test in what circumstances ambiguous messages may lead to the depolarization of receivers’ attitudes. The paper presents results of three experiments that show that depolarization is more likely when the speaker is credible and his or her audience supports the issue in question. Depolarization is also possible when the message is incompatible with the receivers’ attitudes. In such case the receivers try to produce counterarguments but when the message is ambiguous they typically agree with its content.