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march 1 2012- psych 215.docx

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McGill University
PSYC 215
Michael Sullivan

Thursday, March 1st, 2012 Link Between Attitudes and Behaviour The study was criticized because it was said that the way it was conducted limited the number of conclusions that can be drawn from it. They said that the situation was not that the Chinese couple were going to a restaurant, but that a Chinese couple was being accompanied by a Caucasian American; this is different than if they were alone. Also, people indicated that it is a specific person telling someone that they cannot eat there. LaPierre did not know if the person who had responded to the letter was the person who had served them. Next Slide We discussed this already; the study conducted in the mall at the top of an escalator that takes them down to the food court. The manipulation is not to change their opinion about the food guide, but to bring the attitude into consciousness (for half of the people). Next Slide It looks like an attitude will have the greatest impact on behaviour if it is in consciousness when making a choice. So researchers began thinking of situations when you would be more or less likely to make decisions based on attitudes. When attitudes predict behaviour The stronger the attitude you have, the more likely it will be associated with behaviour. The more aware you are (eg: putting a mirror in front of people), the more attitudes will influence decisions. As for accessibility of the attitude, the easier that an attitude will come to mind, the more likely that it will be influencing behaviour. The specificity of the attitude is important; for example, if you ask people a general question, certain indicators (eg: generosity; giving money) is not a good measure of acting on attitudes because there are many different instances of showing generosity. You can come to stronger conclusions if the question is more specific. So the more you try to find a relationship between general attitudes and specific behaviour, the less likely it will be that you do so. Also, you will get a better measure of behaviour if the measure of behaviour is aggregated over time. So these are factors that will play a role in determining how attitudes predict behaviour. Behaviour Changing Attitudes? People suggest that even though you think that cognition, or attitudes, is something that will determine/drive behaviour, in actuality it is the other way around. People like Spinoza say that we have no idea why we do what we do, and once we do it, we infer our attitudes from that. Behaviour Determines Attitudes: Role Playing At least under some circumstances, you can be made to behave in certain ways, which will influence attitudes about certain people. A demonstration in the power of behaviour in determining attitudes is the Stanforn Prison Study. They made the basement of Stanford University look like a prison, and they assigned students to either guards or prisoners. They were just supposed to pretend for a week that this was a prison, and they were supposed to be observed. But they had to discontinue this study on the second day, because guards starting beating prisoners. So the role identity was adopted whole-heartedly by the people, and they started taking on the attitudes for the assigned behaviours. Next Slide Also, we know that when we try to shape the attitudes of our children, we do not try to appeal to information. We think we will have better luck changing behaviour, and those behaviour changes will have better luck changing attitudes. For example, when you try to teach your kids about positive dental hygiene attitudes, chances are they did not explain gingivitis. Instead, they probably made you brush your teeth; they repeatedly take control of your behaviour, so that you would behave in a way as if you had positive attitudes towards dental hygiene, until your attitudes towards it became positive. Another example was seat belts; law changes behaviour. Figure 4-2 What they did was that if you were a participant, you just did the most boring study ever, In the study, you monitor a dot coming onto a screen, or you go through pages and pages of letters and you cross off all the Cs. Finally the experiment is over, and right before it is time to leave, the investigator says that they are having trouble getting people to participate, so he asks you to tell the person in the waiting room that it is such an exciting experiment (he will give you $20 to do it). So they did it. Just before you are about the leave the lab, the experimenter also asks you your true attitude towards the experiment. In another condition, they ask you to do the same with the person in the waiting room, and they offer only $1. Again, your true attitude is measured. What they found was that the people not asked to tell a lie thought it was a horribly boring experiment. The people who were given $1, now believe that it was an exciting experiment. The people with $20 fall in between. What is happening here? Why was the lower reward value associated with attitude change? Festinger argued that you are asked to lie; something against your values. Your justification for this is that you got $1. It will be hard to accept that situation in consciousness; that you would betray your values about honesty for such little money. So you now have to do something to allow this situation to rest. The easiest solution is for you to believe that this is an exciting experiment. In the $20 condition, this is a lot of money; it is ok (it is a little lie for a lot of reward; internal tension is small). Next Slide A number of studies have shown that, for example, say everyone knows you want to vote for Adam Vaughan. Someone comes to the door and asks if you will put it on your fence. People will say no generally (83%). But if the situation was such that a week before someone had come to you and asked if you would put a small card in your window (everyone says yes), 76% say yes a week later for the big sign on the fence. What they have done is to create a situation where they will start to get you to behave in a way consistent with what they want as the second request. Theory of planned behaviour Put forward to try to understand the mechanics or processes involved in linking an attitude to a behaviour. Shows the essential pieces needed to be in place to link an attitude to a behaviour. One thing that plays a role is the subjective norm (what is everyone else doing?) before you act in a way consistent with the attitude; you are seeking consensus information. If the subjective norm is one that fosters the enactment of the behaviour, it is more likely your attitudes will act on behaviour. Another factor is whether or not you believe that you have control
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