As stated above, credibility will be an issue for high- and low-involved receivers. High-involved people will choose credible communication forms so that the energy they expend in direct route processing (ELM) or systematic processing of the communication form is not wasted. Low-involved individuals will not use credibility as a factor in choosing the communication form. Since low-involved consumers intend to expend less energy processing the communication form, credibility is not an issue. However, ease of consumption is a motivating factor for low-involved consumers.
Orientation as posited by Rubin (1993) is very similar to what Petty & Cacciopo (1981) term, ‘personal relevance.’ In this postulation concerning relevance, Petty & Cacciopo (1981) state that an individual mass media consumer will consume messages of high personal relevance with much more scrutiny. Areas of high involvement may include such areas as personal goals, value systems, possessions or groups. Of these mentioned, issues of high personal relevance to Air Force members could include personal goals, value systems and groups.
Heuristic-Systematic Model theorists argue that systematic processing of messages requires greater effort than the shortcut form of processing known as heuristic processing. Therefore, these theorists postulate that systematic processing occurs when the consumer has a high motivation and capacity for the effort of processing messages in a specific medium, and heuristic processing of messages will dominate when an individual has low motivation or capacity for undertaking the effort required of systematic processing. We believe Air Force members will have a high motivation and capacity for processing messages with regard to this model, high personal relevance with regard to the Elaboration-Likelihood Model and instrumental orientation with regard to uses and gratification theory.
Attitudes about the media are related to audience orientation as well in Uses and Gratification theory (Rubin, 1993). Individual perceptions concerning media realism and importance (affinity for that media, reliance and dependence on that media) influence an individual’s attitude about a specific medium and act as a filter affecting the meaning an individual receives through that medium. More positive attitudes lead to higher credibility and less positive attitudes lead to less credibility and less possibility of selection of that specific medium.
Elaboration-Likelihood Model theorists also address attitudes about the media, however in their conceptualization they refer to this aspect of the audience member’s view toward a medium as source credibility (Hawkins & Petty, 1982). Essentially, source credibility can be enhanced by multiple independent sources that offer more than one position on an issue. The opposite is also true. If multiple sources give an individual the idea that a message is being collectively presented to persuade the individual or the masses, then the level of credibility of all of those sources can be lowered.
The Heuristic-Systematic Model of information processing theorists take credibility of the source into account as a strong factor when an individual is attempting to close a perceived knowledge gap (Griffin, et al., 2002). The perceived usefulness and credibility are seen in this model to allow more cognitive effort in closing the gap between what someone knows and what he or she believes they need to know. If the need for information is high, the individual will seek out more credible and useful sources of information about the subject. Again, these models and theories suggest that Air Force members will seek out mediums of mass communication they perceive to be credible if they believe the issues surrounding Air Force service are relevant to them.
Social and psychological factors affecting an individual audience member will affect whether they consume a medium ritualistically or instrumentally, as well as the attitude the individual consumer has toward that medium and the information it contains. One of the most insightful Uses and Gratification studies into how social and psychological factors affect individual orientation and attitudes about the media was conducted by Vincent & Basil (1997). In a longitudinal study of college students approaching graduation and entrance into the workforce, these researchers found that as students approached graduation they consumed all types of media more instrumentally, with particular emphasis on CNN and print media in gaining knowledge about the world they felt they were about to enter.
Social and psychological factors are prominent factors in the dual processing models as well. Elaboration-Likelihood Model theorists believe the need for cognition is a strong motivating personality factor in determining how a person processes messages he or she is exposed to or seeks out through the media (Cacioppo & Petty, 1982). The ‘need for cognition’ variable suggests that people who have a desire to know and understand ideas and arguments will give more scrutiny to a message than those who do not have a high need for understanding. In other words, some people enjoy analysis and problem solving, and they are more likely to consider what is presented to them than someone who just takes what is presented to them as fact. Heuristic-Systematic Model theorists also see a person’s desire for accurate and sufficient information as a strong motivation for systematic processing. Eagly and Chaiken’s sufficiency principle “asserts that people will exert whatever effort is required to attain a sufficient degree of confidence that they have accomplished their processing goals” (Griffin et al. 2002).
Together, these models on message processing and uses and gratification theory support our original premise that Air Force members will choose specific media sources to satisfy individual needs for information about the Air Force. Several reasons can be gleaned from the review of the literature highlighted above. We believe Air Force members feel information in specific Air Force information mediums is relevant to themselves and studies determine this is a strong motivation for seeking and processing information from specific mass communication mediums. We also believe Air Force members will choose mediums they have a high affinity for, or they believe is useful and credible as noted in the literature review. Finally, we believe social and psychological factors, such as a need to belong to their chosen group, need for cognition about information concerning that group and the need for a degree of confidence regarding what they know of the group they belong to will lead to high involvement and instrumental selection of specific mediums.
This rationale supports the following hypotheses:
H1: With regard to Air Force policy issues and installation (local) policy issues, more highly involved Air Force members will be more inclined to instrumental orientation with regards to the media choice, using more Air Force specific information sources, including base newspapers, Air Force Times, Air Force Web sites, and commanders access channels.
H2: With regard to Air Force policy issues and installation (local) policy issues, more low involved Air Force members will be more inclined to ritualistic orientation with regards to the media choice, using less specific information sources, including Airman magazine, local newspapers, local TV & radio news, and network and cable news.
H3: With regard to family service issues, more highly involved Air Force members will be more inclined to instrumental orientation with regards to the media choice, using more Air Force specific information sources, including base newspapers, Air Force Times, Air Force Web sites, and commander’s access channels.
H4: With regard to family service issues, more low involved Air Force members will be more inclined to ritualistic orientation with regards to the media choice, using less specific information sources, including Airman magazine, local newspapers, local TV & radio news, and network and cable news.
H5: With regard to Air Force policy issues and local command policy issues, Air Force members will be more inclined to see Air Force specific information sources, including base newspapers, Air Force Times, Air Force Web sites, and commanders access channels as more credible.
H6: With regard to family service issues, Air Force members will be more inclined to see Air Force specific information sources, including base newspapers, Air Force Web sites, and commanders access channels as more credible.
While confident in the predictions framed as hypothesis above due to a review of pertinent communication theory and models of information processing, these theories do not provide a foundation for prediction with regard to some relationships we hope to identify through this study. Most notably, the assumption that greater consumption of internal information products will lead to greater job satisfaction (higher morale) in the Air Force and that greater job-satisfaction will lead to greater likelihood of retention. For these two issues we pose the following research questions:
RQ1: Is there a positive relationship between an air Force member’s consumption of internal information products and his or her satisfaction with service in the Air Force (morale)?
RQ2: Is there a positive relationship between an air Force member’s satisfaction with service in the Air Force and intention of reenlisting?
Capstone Team 03D2