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Analyzing Exposure and Attention Variables in Media Effects Research
Unformatted Document Text:  Exposure and Attention 17 no such contingent relation. If attention does not moderate the effects of exposure, but it has a main effect, we must reconsider what the attention measure in fact operationalizes. It is hardly credible, given findings from elaboration likelihood and systematic-heuristic research (see Eagly & Chaiken, 1993, for a review), that more intensive processing associated with attention would not moderate effects of exposure. Instead, it is likely in such cases that attention measures measure more than attention to actual messages. It seems likely that participants, in endorsing items assessing their attention to a class of messages, are in fact reporting on other related variables. For example, in the context of political messages, attention measures may be a reflection of political engagement or prior knowledge (Chaffee, et al., 2001). Here, self-reported attention may reflect an interest in and predisposition to use cigarettes, that also results in increased memory for cigarette advertisements. We would like to note, however, that cigarette ads are not information-intensive messages. Consequently, examination of other types of messages, such as news stories, might well yield interactions between exposure and attention. That is, the presence or absence of an exposure by attention interaction might be domain specific according to the characteristics of the message. This will be an interesting avenue for future research to explore. We hope that future studies include triangulated measurement, as this study has, to permit further examination of these issues. It is important to emphasize that this is a single data set, based on a small, local, self-selected sample. Therefore, it would be erroneous to interpret these findings to suggest that attention always measures prior attitudinal stance, or that memory and measures always have a relatively weak positive relationship with self-reports of exposure. However, we do believe that this study does provide a basis for recommending

Authors: Aloise-Young, Patricia. and Slater, Michael.
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Exposure and Attention
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no such contingent relation. If attention does not moderate the effects of exposure, but it has a
main effect, we must reconsider what the attention measure in fact operationalizes. It is hardly
credible, given findings from elaboration likelihood and systematic-heuristic research (see Eagly
& Chaiken, 1993, for a review), that more intensive processing associated with attention would
not moderate effects of exposure. Instead, it is likely in such cases that attention measures
measure more than attention to actual messages. It seems likely that participants, in endorsing
items assessing their attention to a class of messages, are in fact reporting on other related
variables. For example, in the context of political messages, attention measures may be a
reflection of political engagement or prior knowledge (Chaffee, et al., 2001). Here, self-reported
attention may reflect an interest in and predisposition to use cigarettes, that also results in
increased memory for cigarette advertisements.
We would like to note, however, that cigarette ads are not information-intensive
messages. Consequently, examination of other types of messages, such as news stories, might
well yield interactions between exposure and attention. That is, the presence or absence of an
exposure by attention interaction might be domain specific according to the characteristics of the
message. This will be an interesting avenue for future research to explore.
We hope that future studies include triangulated measurement, as this study has, to permit
further examination of these issues. It is important to emphasize that this is a single data set,
based on a small, local, self-selected sample. Therefore, it would be erroneous to interpret these
findings to suggest that attention always measures prior attitudinal stance, or that memory and
measures always have a relatively weak positive relationship with self-reports of exposure.
However, we do believe that this study does provide a basis for recommending


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