Age differences in attitude change: influences of cognitive resources and motivation on responses to argument quantity

Mo Wang, Yiwei Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined the influences of cognitive resources and motivation on how young and older adults process different quantities of persuasive arguments. In the first experiment session, both young and older adults rated their attitudes toward marijuana legalization and capital punishment. After a week, they read either 3 or 9 similar-quality arguments supporting marijuana legalization and capital punishment. Half of participants were assigned to the high-involvement condition (i.e., told that they were going to discuss the arguments later with the experimenter) and the other half were assigned to the low-involvement condition (i.e., given no instructions). After reading the arguments, participants rated their attitudes toward those 2 social issues again. Highly involved young adults changed their attitudes regardless of the quantity of arguments, whereas lowly involved young adults' attitude change was influenced by the argument quantity. Older adults in both high-involvement and low-involvement conditions changed their attitudes according to the argument quantity. Working memory was found to mediate the age effects on attitude change. This finding demonstrated the importance of a cognitive mechanism in accounting for age differences in attitude change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-589
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology and Aging
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Age differences
  • Attitude change
  • Cognitive resources
  • Motivation

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