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Need to evaluate moderates cultivation effects 9 as

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NEED TO EVALUATE MODERATES CULTIVATION EFFECTS 9 As the information processing literature suggests, however, it is doubtful that television viewers are motivated to form new evaluations or update old ones every time they are exposed – even if we assume that they are always elaborating on the implied message. In traditional formulations of the ELM, central processing was equated with online evaluation (Petty, Priester, & Wegener, 1994) but it has been noted that these are independent processes (Carpenter & Boster, 2013; Choi, 2011). Only if people possess an evaluative processing goal, online evaluation and the formation of strong attitudes is likely (Bizer, Tormala, Rucker, & Petty, 2006; Mackie & Asuncion, 1990; Tormala & Petty, 2001). If they do not have a goal to evaluate, they still need to construct a post-hoc judgment based on the specific information they recall from memory (Mackie & Asuncion, 1990). The literature on cultivation processes has not completely overlooked the importance of cognitive goals, but it considers them to be a secondary issue because evaluations can occur even if a processing goal is absent (Shrum, 2007; e.g., Bargh, Chaiken, Raymond, & Hymes, 1996). This line of reasoning, however, fails to make a distinction between automatic evaluations and the propositional processes that are typically addressed in persuasion models and cultivation studies (Gawronski & Bodenhausen, 2006). The fact that evaluations can be automatically activated during viewing does not imply that the valence or extremity of evaluative judgments changes (Crano & Prislin, 2006). For the cultivation hypothesis this is crucial (Shrum & O’Guinn, 1993): study participants are not merely hypothesized to answer opinion questions using accessible evaluations, it is also expected that the extremity of their evaluative judgments is directly proportional to television exposure frequency. Whether or not a viewer has an evaluative processing goal therefore remains an important determinant of attitudinal cultivation effects, regardless of the automaticity of initial evaluative reactions (cf. Cunningham & Zelazo, 2007). The explanatory value of the Need to Evaluate
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NEED TO EVALUATE MODERATES CULTIVATION EFFECTS 10 NTE is an individual’s tendency to engage in evaluative thought (Jarvis & Petty, 1996). As such, it is related to the tendency to think thoroughly ( Need for Cognition , NFC: Cacioppo, Petty, & Kao, 1982), but NTE’s emphasis on evaluation marks an important conceptual distinction: the motive to think effortfully is not identical to the motive to think evaluatively. When people are asked to describe their own day, for example, those high in NTE tend to use evaluative (e.g., “I had a delicious breakfast”) instead of more factual descriptions (e.g., “I had breakfast at 10 a.m.”). The same is not true for high NFC individuals (Jarvis & Petty, 1996). In other words, differences in NTE reflect variations in the presence of evaluative processing goals: people high in NTE are likely to evaluate spontaneously during exposure to information (online),
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