Source credibility and message variation in a conflict
This study has attempted to provide a greater understanding of the use of a persuasive communication to modify behaviour in the context of a conflict. Following an extensive review of the literature relating to consumer behaviour, the author concluded that there was relatively sparse information about models from this domain that have been applied or tested in the domain of conflict resolution. The latter has provided the impetus for this thesis. In particular, this study aimed to contribute to the advancement of knowledge about forces related to the consumer behaviour and communication domain, and the specific ways that these affect the focal area of intention, in the context of a conflict. To achieve this end, this study has developed and tested an integrated model of persuasive communication in the context of a conflict. In order to meet this aim the study has employed the well-established Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) as a suitable theoretical basis for the model together with communication models from the consumer behaviour domain to develop an integrated model of persuasive communication. The study employed rigorous methodologies to operationalise and test the research constructs and found considerable support for the stability of the Ohanian (1990) source credibility scale. Data were collected in a field experiment and the principal analytical tool was Structural Equation Modelling. The model was employed to test hypotheses related to the major influences of persuasive communication identified in literature, i.e. source credibility and message variation. Overall the research makes the following theoretical contributions to the theory and practice of behaviour modification by persuasive communication: Theoretical contribution: The research has tested the boundary conditions of the TPB. The TPB has been found to represent a reliable predictive model within the context of a conflict. The structure of the model has been confirmed and a number of cross-over effects consistent with past research were identified. In addition, the research has tested the boundary conditions of the Source Credibility Model and found support for the effectiveness of an expert spokesperson in persuasive communication in the context of a conflict. Finally, the importance of external influences to the persuasive communication process has been established, in that the existence of prior beliefs about the conflict originator was shown to confound the communication effect. Managerial contributions: Despite the limitations of the study, the author considers that the research provides guidelines for practitioners who wish to create a persuasive communication to modify behavioural intention in a conflict.