PSYC 215 Lecture Notes - Prosocial Behavior, Cognitive Dissonance, Classical Conditioning
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Social Psychology Notes (7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14)
(Post Midterm 1/ Midterm 2 covers 7-12 + readings)
CHAPTER 7: ATTITUDES & BELIEFS
- A positive, negative, or mixed evaluation of a person, object, or idea expressed at some level of intensity. Ex/
when you encounter someone new, you will have a response to that situation or person. We always seem to have
a response to something (like or dislike) and that is an attitude. Mild or intense, it is essentially a wide spectrum.
- Valence to an idea, person or situation. Ex/ believe in healthy eating, cheating is wrong, etc.
- Once you have an attitude, is it possible to change that attitude?
- People can have quite intense attitudes on certain matters such as: abortion, same sex marriage, Quebec
separation, etc. Ex/ Republicans hold on abortion and homosexuality, very strong opinions (somewhat crazy).
- Attitudes are: internal, relatively stable, and positivity or negativity.
- Possible reactions to attitude objects:
- Attitudes remain, because they have been reinforced, etc. thus
when one changes attitude, the original attitude remains, yet it is
hidden out of awareness. The mind tries to entertain both
attitudes at the same time: duel attitudes.
- The degree to which your attitudes keep a valence consistency
depends on the internal ―battles‖
- Dual attitudes: Background that might have promoted
prejudice. As adult, develop more egalitarian view of
the world. Target group is likely to evoke both positive
and negative reactions.
- Words (even made up) can elicit a valence to response/ attitude.
- Voting techniques use attitudes to acquire the largest number of
voters, thus they promote information to make people have a
good attitude towards their party. Poll accuracy for decided
voters is accurate up to 95%.
- It is thought that changing ones attitude will induce behavioral
changes (in accordance to the attitude). However this is not always the case.
- The purpose of political adds, is to change your attitude about the candidate. To make the opposing party look
bad. Changing ones attitudes in a negative way about the other is more powerful (developing a negative
- Ex/ Romney race: if all think it is good (many crowds are following and choosing Romney) one wants to
―follow‖ the winners (follow the attitude of the majority). This also works with negative points, if the majority
is not for Romney (does not like Romney) ones attitude follows that of the majority, thus does not like him
- Positive and negative attitude bin analogy, Ex/ Romney tries to fill the positive bin, other circumstances (news,
other voters, etc.) can fill the negative bin with information.
- When making a political attack, one can either paint themselves and their party in a good light, or paint the
opposing party in a bad light. Linking positively to attitudes people may have or (attack) take out the attitudes
one has towards something.
-How attitudes are measured (Self report measures):
- Attitude scale: A multiple-item questionnaire designed to measure a person‘s attitude toward some object. Ex/
Likert Scale: rate the relative intensity to your response towards something or someone. (7 numbers because he
thought that that was the number of meaningful units of information in the mind).
-Bogus Pipeline: A phony lie-detector device that is sometimes used to get respondents to give truthful answers
to sensitive questions. People respond to a questionnaire, then later respond to the same type of questions (and
the experimenters, knowing the respondents answers light up the corresponding answer) people are under the
impression that the machine can read their minds, thus they adapt their attitudes towards some questions so as to
subconsciously match the attitude.
- How attitudes are measures (covert measures):
-Physiological Arousal: (problem:) may just reveal intensity of the attitude than direction of attitude (strongly
dislike or strongly like).
- Facial Electromyography (EMG): an electronic instrument that records facial muscle activity associated with
emotions and attitudes (cheek muscles versus brow muscles). Problem: not a practical measure of attitudes, too
many problems involved. Muscles are primed with electrical activity which is consistent with the emotion being
experienced. Most reliable muscles for positive and negative reactions: corrugator and zygomatic.
-How attitudes are measured (implicit association test, IAT): based on the notion that we have implicit attitudes.
Associations between attitude objects and evaluations.
- Implicit Association Test (IAT): measures the speed with which one responds to pairings of concepts.
- How attitudes form: from information, exposure, conditioning, and social learning.
-People are less likely to censor their attitudes when anonymous. However, people also self-sensor (during self
report) even when response is anonymous.
- People can hold attitude towards individuals from countries which you have never met. News and media is
somewhat responsible for this. For instance Americans dislike and prejudice against middle eastern people,
though they have never met any.
- Mere exposure: Tendency for novel stimuli to be liked more after repeated exposure. Neutral stimuli repeatedly
exposed increases liking. Repeated exposure to initially disliked stimuli does not increasing liking. Works only
is initial reaction is positive or neutral. If Original reaction is negative, hard and impossible to change to positive.
Ex/ we are repeatedly exposed to our self image as its mirror image, thus, we dislike pictures because they do not
correspond to our self image most exposed to. People on the other hand, prefer pictures of you as opposed to
mirror images because that is what they are most exposed to. Peoples likability of themselves increase (with
age) because you are increasingly exposed to your face and self.
- Classical conditioning: an attitude can be matched to a neutral stimulus. Ex/ if in pleasant environment, may
have positive attitude, vice versa.
- Operant Conditioning: Develop a positive attitude toward something being reinforced
- Social Learning: Learn attitudes acceptable through observation. Vicarious learning.
- Polarization - Attitudes become more extreme as we think about them: Especially true in strong initial attitude
& Evaluate evidence in a biased manner (accept evidence that confirms attitude & accept evidence from ingroup
- Attitudes have a need for consistency (internal need for consistency), people have a need for public perception
of consistency (need people to think they are consistent and think that others are consistent). Ex/ people will
think it is weird if every other day you change your attitude about something.
- People attempt to redefine lines concerning information on their attitudes (ex/ pro abortion and euthanasia are
not consistent with anti murder). Attitudes are discrepant, thus the mind and self attempt to accommodate an
answer to satisfy them all.
(class notes) 2
- LaPiere‘s study: is the assumption that attitudes influence behavior a valid one? People had a different attitude
when actually serving the Chinese couple, then when later asked over the phone if they served Chinese people
(said no, when in fact they did serve them).
- Cafeteria study: when people were interviewed, and their awareness was brought to healthy food choices, they
adapted their attitudes to adhere to what they were saying. Consciousness brought about an attitude, which lead
to a behavior of healthy eating.
- Increased self-awareness seems to increase the relationship with good attitude and the related behavior.
- When attitudes predict behavior: depends on the, strength of attitude, self-awareness, conscious awareness of
the attitude, accessibility of the attitude, specificity of the attitude, behaviors aggregated over time. These play a
role in predicting later or related behavior.
- When polled on a specific attitude question, the more likely it is that you will find a related behavior (ex asked
if you will donate to the salvation army, and you say yes, there is a greater chance of your donating if there is a
salvation army booth nearby).
- Spinoza quote: ―The stone, flying through the air, unaware of the source of it propulsion, attributes its motion
to its own intention.‖ You observe yourself doing things, and infer from your behavior what your attitudes are.
- Ex/ power of inferring behavior: Zimbardo prison experiment. Supposed to pretend prison behavior, behaviors
inferred attitudes. Role identity adapted strongly be these individuals.
- Concerning children, individuals try to change their own behavior, and hope that their child copies the
- Seatbelt wearing behavior: made it law. Now more part of culture, because individuals are raised with this
being a normal, positive behavior.
- Insufficient justification: dissonance theory predicts that when our actions are not fully explained by external
rewards or coercion, we will experience dissonance, which we can reduce by believing what we have done.
- People will modify their true attitude when they perform a behavior or action which sucks. When the reward is
not sufficient, the attitude will compensate so that the mind does not think you engaged into something useless
(or inconsistent behavior). When paid allot of money, or if the reward is worth it, the attitude remains, because
you can blame or redirect the behavior to the fact that the reward was worth it.
- Justifying the conditions in which you behave against your values, the reward is crucial in the attitude you will
- Priming of behavior: ask people to do incremental steps towards a certain behavior.
- Theory of planned behavior: what have we
learned between the relationships about attitudes
- Ex/ if someone decides that they do not want to
gamble any more: if perceived behavior control,
the intention of wanting to stop will be weak,
and the resulting behavior will not be a good
attempt at stopping the gambling behavior.
- All of these (attitude toward behavior,
subjective norm, and perceived behavior) all
concord, the intention will be strong and the
behavior will occur.
- Pieces of facts about something; facts or opinions. Your perception of what the reality of the world is.
- Believing: Some evidence to suggest that you automatically believe something as soon as you understand it.
Unbelieving is a more deliberate or intentional stage of information processing. Children first believe and later
doubt. Two step process (automatic and deliberate). Anything that has information value, we believe it. The act
of understanding something, also means believing it. Only when we have acquired information, and
understanding, can we make a judgment if the information is fact true.
- Unbelieving is a deliberate process, needs investment from cognitive resources. People are less likely to
unbelieve. Ex/ Children believe everything!
- Brainwashing: The context is important, if one is exposed to info when one is likely to believe anything, then
limit the cognitive resources so as to stop unbelieveing processes. Ex/ Ensuring that individuals are tired or
distracted while being exposed to messages. Reduces investment of cognitive resources in ‗unbelieving‘.
- Belief perseverance: Receiving positive or negative feedback that is then discredited. Participants still behave
as if the information was true. People will always rete themselves with the original feedback, though they have
been helped to unbelieve.
- Assumptive world: the world is benevolent (we believe that we live in a good world), that the world is fair and
just, and that ―I am a good person‖ holding these believe are important to deal with the stresses we face in our
- Belief violation leads to distress reaction. Effective coping might involve maintaining assumptive world beliefs
in the face of brief violation. People who have these beliefs, when horrible things happen to them, but they
continue to believe the world is good, etc. Some cannot maintain the good world beliefs and then believe the
world is bad and dark.
- Explanation as coping: self-blame is adaptive, people who blamed their behavior have a better psychological
recovery. By assuming the blame, this allow the person to feel more in control of future behavior as opposed to
blaming chance circumstances (it can always happen when it relies on chance). Provides a sense of predictability
to future behavior.
Social psychology notes (7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14) (post midterm 1/ midterm 2 covers 7-12 + readings) A positive, negative, or mixed evaluation of a person, object, or idea expressed at some level of intensity. Ex/ when you encounter someone new, you will have a response to that situation or person. We always seem to have a response to something (like or dislike) and that is an attitude. Mild or intense, it is essentially a wide spectrum. Valence to an idea, person or situation. Ex/ believe in healthy eating, cheating is wrong, etc. People can have quite intense attitudes on certain matters such as: abortion, same sex marriage, quebec separation, etc. Ex/ republicans hold on abortion and homosexuality, very strong opinions (somewhat crazy). Attitudes are: internal, relatively stable, and positivity or negativity. Attitudes remain, because they have been reinforced, etc. thus when one changes attitude, the original attitude remains, yet it is hidden out of awareness.