The Sleeper Effect: an Alternative Direction For Investigation

Date of Graduation

Spring 1995


Master of Arts in Communication



Committee Chair

Gloria Galanes


As revealed by research in 1949, the sleeper effect is the increased attitude change of individuals over a period of time when compared to attitude change immediately after listening to a message. During the intervening years between the initial studies and the present day, the sleeper effect has been redefined many times and investigated using numerous methods. However, all the previous researchers used the credibility effects hypothesis, which describes how the message source effects the listener, to explain the sleeper effect. None of the previous research has produced a consistent sleeper effect using the credibility effects hypothesis. An alternate hypothesis that was not explored was the predisposition hypothesis. This present research used the predisposition hypothesis to investigate the sleeper effect. Source credibility was held constant while exposure to a message on a topic of high interest was used to assess the sleeper effect. However, evidence for the sleeper effect was not found in this study. There may have been contamination from the methods of the study, or the chosen topic. This research speculates that the sleeper effect is not created by messages produced by researchers, but rather, is a discoverable phenomenon that reveals attitude changes as they are affected by events at particular stages in a person's life cycle.

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© Patrick Kevin Wilds