Enhancing Retention of Future Information Professionals Using Attitude Inoculation

Isabelle Fagnot, Jeffrey Stanton


Employment predictions in the field of Information Systems (IS) vary over time, but em- ployers often report a gap between the available IT workforce and their needs for skilled in- formation professionals. The existence of such gaps raises questions about how college stu- dents make decisions about persistence in majors with respect to available information about employment prospects. The main objective of this article is to understand whether and how inoculating messages may help students to maintain pre-existing positive attitudes towards occupational features of the IT profession; to explore why some choose to stay in the information technology disciplines; and to suggest potential solutions to augment the number of those who stay.

This research study used Inoculation Theory to hypothesize that students who heard an inoculative message prior to a persuasive message concerning post-graduate employment would show a greater resistance to attitude change than students in a control group, and that there would be a difference in resistance to change based on gender and on program of study.

The results of our field experiment showed that significant differences arose among the different groups of students. As hypothesized, the participants in the treatment group had more resistance to attitude change; participants in control groups were more affected by the persuasive message than participants who had received an inoculation treatment. The analyses did not detect significant differences in attitudes based on gender and major. These results have implications for effective retention of future information professionals. 


Systèmes d’Information, Professionnels de l’Information, Rétention, Attitude, Théorie de l’Inoculation

Full Text:

 Subscribers Only


Ahuja, M. K. (2002), “Women in the Information Technology Profession: A Literature Review, Synthesis and Research Agenda”, European Journal of Information Systems, vol. 1, n°1, p. 20-34.

Akbulut-Bailey, A. Y., & Looney, C. A. (2007), “Inspiring Students to Pursue Computing Degrees: Their Aspirations Are Our Possibilities”, Communications of the ACM, vol. 50, n°10, p. 67-71.

Ali, A. (2009), “Successful Efforts in Recruiting Women into Technology Courses – A Case Study”, Issues in Information System, vol. X, n°1, p. 225-231.

Ali, A. & Shubra, C. (2010), “Efforts to Reverse the Trend of Enrollment Decline in Computer Science Programs”, The Journal of Issues in Informing Science and Technology, vol. 7, p. 209-225.

Aronson, E., Wilson,T.D., &Akert,R.M. (2005). “Social Psychology (5th ed.)”. Upper Saddle River, NJ: PrenticeHall.

Buche, M. (2008), “Influence of Gender on IT Professional Work Identity: Outcomes from a PLS Study”, ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Personnel Research Annual Conference, Charlottesville, VA.

Cohen, J. (1992), “A Power Primer”. Psychological Bulletin, vol. 112, n°1, p. 155-159.

Compton, J.A. & Pfau, M.W. (2005), “Inoculation Theory of Resistance to Influence at Maturity: Recent Progress in Theory Development and Application and Suggestions for Future Research”, Communication Yearbook, vol. 29, p. 97-145.

Crites, S.L., Fabrigar, L.R. & Petty, R.E. (1994). “Measuring the Affective and Cognitive Properties of Attitudes: Conceptual and Methodological Issues”. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 20, n°6, p. 619-634.

Davis, C.E., Yeary, M.B. & Sluss, J.J. (2012), “Reversing the Trend of Engineering Enrollment Declines With Innovative Outreach, Recruiting, and Retention Programs”, IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. 55, n°2, p. 157-163.

Eagly, A. H., & Carli, L. L. (1981), “Sex of Researchers and Sex-typed Communications as Determinants of Sex Differences in Influenceability: A Meta-analysis of Social Influence Studies”, Psychological Bulletin, vol. 90, p. 1-20.

Eagly, A. H., & Chaiken, S. (1993), “The Psychology of Attitudes”, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers: Fort Worth, TX.

Eagly, A. H., & Kulesa, P. (1997), “Attitudes, Attitude Structure and Resistance to Change”, in M.H. Bazerman, D.M. Messick, A.E. Tenbrunsel, & K.A. Wade (Eds.), Environmental Ethics and Behavior, p. 122-153. San Francisco: New Lexington.

Erickson, J. (2005), “Scientists, Engineers Call for More Women in Math, Science”, Retrieved May 24, 2005, from http://www.now.org/issues/education/05/305science.html

Fagnot, I.J., Guzman, I.R. & Stanton, J.M. (2007), “Toward Recruitment And Retention Strategies Based on the Early Exposure to the IT Occupational Culture”, America Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS), Keystone, CO.

Fischman, J. (2007), “Robots to the Rescue: Women are Vanishing from Computer-science Programs. Can the Scribbler Lure them Back?” The Chronicle of Higher Education, June, p. A29. Available at: http://chronicle.com/article/Robots-to-the-Rescue/11380

Godbold, L. & Pfau, M. (2000), “Conferring Resistance to Peer Pressure Among Adolescents: Using Inoculation Theory to Discourage Alcohol Use”, Communication Research, vol. 27, n°4, p. 411-437.

Granger, M., Dick, G., Jacobson, C., and Van Slyke, C. (2007), “Information Systems Enrollments: Challenges and Strategies”, Journal of Information Systems Education, vol. 18, n°3, p. 303-312.

Guzman, I.R. (2008), “As you like I.T.”: Occupational Culture and Commitment of New IT People: Using Mixed Methodology to Study the Perceptions of New Information Technologists”, VDM Verlag Dr. Muller Publishing, Saarbrucken, Germany.

Kaarst-Brown, M.L. & Robey, D. (1999), “More on Myth, Magic and Metaphor: Cultural Insights into the Management of Information Technology in Organizations”, Information, Technology and People, vol. 12, n° 2, p. 192-217.

Katz, E., & Lazarsfeld, P. (1955), Personal Influence, New York: The Free Press.

Krosnick, J.A., & Petty, R.E. (1995). “Attitude strength: An overview”. In R.E. Petty & J.A. Krosnick (Eds.), Attitude strength: Antecedents and consequences (p. 1-24). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Leidner, D.E. & Kayworth, T. (2006), “A Review of Culture in Information Systems Research: Toward a Theory of Information Technology Culture Conflict”, MIS Quarterly, vol. 30, n° 2, p. 357-399.

McCombs, M.E. & Shaw, D. (1972). “The Agenda-Setting Function of Mass Media”, Public Opinion Quarterly, vol. 36; p.176-187.

McInerney, C.R., DiDonato, N.C., Giagnacova, R, and O’Donnell, A.M. (2006), “Students’ choice of Information Technology Majors and Careers: A Qualitative Study”, Information Technology, Learning, and Performance Journal, vol. 24, n°2, p. 35-53.

McGuire, W. J. (1964), “Inducing Resistance to Persuasion: Some Contemporary Approaches”, In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 1, p. 191-229. New York: Academic Press.

McGuire, W. J. (1970), “A Vaccine for Brainwash”, Psychology Today, vol. 3, p. 36-39 & p. 63-64.

McGuire, W.J. (1985). “Attitudes and Attitude Change”. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.), The Handbook of Social Psychology (3rd ed., vol. 2, p. 233-346). New York: Random House.

McGuire, W. J. & Papageorgis, D. (1961), “The Relative Efficacy of Various Types of Prior Belief-defense in Immunity against Persuasion”, Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, vol. 62, p. 327-337.

McGuire, W. J. & Papageorgis, D. (1962), “Effectiveness of Forewarning in Developing Resistance to Persuasion”, The Public Opinion Quarterly, vol. 26, n°1, p. 24-34.

Meichenbaum, D. (2007), “Stress Inoculation Training: A Preventative and Treatment Approach”, in Lehrer, P.M., Woolfolk, R.L. & Sime, W.S. (2007). Principles and Practices of Stress Management (3rd Edition). Guilford Press.

Miller, G. R., & Burgoon, M. (1973), “New Techniques of Persuasion”, New York: Harper & Row.

Panko, R.R. (2008), “IT Employment Prospects: Beyond the Dotcom Bubble”, European Journal of Information Systems, vol. 17, n°3, p. 182-197.

Petty, R.E. & Cacioppo, J.T. (1986), “The Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion”, Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 19, p. 123-205.

Petty, R.E., Wegener, D.T. and Fabrigar, L.R. (1997), “Attitude and Attitude Change”, Annual Review of Psychology, vol. 48, p 609-647.

Pfau, M. & Burgoon, M. (1988), “Inoculation in Political Campaign Communication”, Human Communication Research, vol. 15, p. 91-111.

Pfau, M., & Kenski, H. C., Nitz, M., & Sorenson, J. (1990), “Efficacy of Inoculation Strategies in Promoting Resistance to Political Attack Messages: Application to Direct Mail”, Communication Monographs, vol. 57, p. 25-43.

Pfau, M. (1995), “Designing Messages for Behavioral Inoculation”, In E. Maibach & R.L. Parrott (Eds.), Designing Health Messages: Approaches from Communication Theory and Public Health pPractice (p 99-113). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Pfau, M., Tusing, K.J., Koerner, A.F., Lee, W., Godbold, L.C., Penaloza, L.J., Yang, V.S., & Hong, Y. (1997a), “Enriching the Inoculation Construct: The Role of Critical Components in the Process of Resistance”, Human Communication Research, vol. 24, p.187-215.

Quesenberry, J.L., and Trauth, E.M. (2007), “What Do Women Want?: An Investigation of Career Anchors among Women in the IT Workforce”, ACM SIGMIS Conference on Computer Personnel Research, St. Louis, MO.

Quinn, J.M. & Wood, W. (2004), “Forewarning of Influence Appeals: Inducing Resistance and Acceptance”, In Resistance and Persuasion, edited by Knowles, E.R. & Lynn, J.A., Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., New Jersey, p. 193-213.

Reid, M.F., Allen, M.W., Armstrong, D.J. & Reimenschneider, C.K. (2010), “Perspectives on Challenges Facing Women in IS: The Cognitive Gender Gap”, European Journal of Information Systems, vol. 19, p. 526-539.

Rones, M. & Hoagwood, K. (2000), “School-Based Mental Health Services: A Research Review”, Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, vol. 3, n°4, p.223-241.

Rottinghaus, P.J., Day, S.X., and Borgen, F.H. (2005), “The Career Futures Inventory: A Measure of Career-Related Adaptability and Optimism”, Journal of Career Assessment, vol. 13, n°1, p.3-24.

Tapia, A.H., and Kvasny, L. (2004), “Recruitment is Never Enough: Retention of Women and Minorities in the IT Workplace”, ACM Press, Tucson, Arizona, USA, p. 84-91.

Trauth E.M. (2002), “Odd Girl Out: An Individual Differences Perspective on Women in the IT Profession”, Information Technology and People, vol. 15, n°2, p. 98-118.

Wang, X. (2013), “Why Students Choose STEM Majors: Motivation, High School Learning, and Postsecondary Context of Support”, American Educational Research Journal, vol. 50, n°5, p.1081–1121.

Wood, L.M. (2006), “Expertise and Prior Attitude: Exploring New Moderators in the Context of Inoculation Research”. PhD Dissertation, University of Wisconsin, Madison.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.9876/sim.v20i2.588

Copyright (c) 2015