Possessions theory claims that individuals learn to relate to their possessions in either an instrumental or symbolic fashion, and that this object orientation transfers to attitudes. Implicit in the theory is the notion that instrumental and symbolic orientations anchor the poles of a single continuum. The results of the first study tested that assumption and found that a bivariate conception was more empirically defensible than a bipolar conception. Study 2 was concerned with the scope of the theory's predictions for persuasion. The possessions orientation of women at-risk for breast cancer was measured and they were then exposed to either a symbolic or instrumental message both of which asked them to participate in a clinical trial of a breast cancer preventative. Although no effects were observed on attitude toward participation nor on intention to participate, instrumental orientation showed a reliable, positive relationship with judgments of the persuasiveness of the messages.
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