Structure and Function of Attitudes 01/17/2014
Day 1 January 15 h
Structure and Function of Attitudes
Believed that we have stored representations of our attitudes
How are related attitudes stored?
Theory: we access information relative to an attitude object and we come up with an attitude on the spot.
Context effects may be relevant then because they predict the way that we determine our attitudes on the
If attitudes are stored, what part of them is stored and where are they stored and what elements are stored?
What is the relationship between implicit and explicit attitudes?
Each different model of attitudes suggests different storage and representation of attitudes> by testing how
attitudes are stored we may be able to agree about WHAT an attitude really is.
Can also tell us of how to change attitudes
Different storage of attitudes> tell us how these attitudes are formed> determine behaviour.
Some attitudes, based on how they are formed or their importance to us may be stored or
Structures of Attitudes
Consistency across> same attitude at one time compared to another, more often consistency
between the components of an attitude.
An attitude is influenced by emotions> feel certain ways towards attitude object(s)
Beliefs about things
Behaviours towards attitudes
Ambivalent attitudes> positive and negative feelings towards a specific attitude objects (cognitions). Inconsistency within the cognitive domain
May also have ambivalent feelings about an attitude object> cognitive and emotional.
May have a positive cognitive (nice person), negative emotions (dislike) or vise versa.
Speed at which we can access attitudes> where the attitude is stored, importance, etc may effect our
ability to access these attitudes.
What determines accessibility?
Assume that strong attitudes are more readily accessible> really important attitudes, extreme or intense
How attitudes come to be strong attitudes? Are they stored differently which determines the strength of
Value of the attitude, to what degree does it shape one’s behaviour.
Models of Attitude Structure and Storage
Fishbein & Ageson (1970s): The Expectancy Valued Model
Attitudes are nothing but cognitions with varying degrees of strength.
A series of qualities, beliefs about certain attitude objects> quality is expressed as a probability of the
extent to which the individual possesses this quality.
All qualities are not equally relevant or important to us
Attitude> collection of these qualities
Attitudes shape our emotions and behaviours but does not necessarily determine it.
Zanna & Rempel (1980s): One Factor Model weighted versions of all three factors (ABCs> Affect,
The attitude importance is determined by the extent to which it is able to help us reach our goals.
To what extent does this attitude represent positive or negative emotions, tendency to approach or avoid an
object> cognitions about an object> attitude. (1980s): Two Factors
Factors: affect and cognition are involved in attitudes
Collection of cognitions and emotions and the relationship between them is the attitude.
No behavioural components> these two combined shapes behaviour.
Three Factor Model (1950s/60s):
Three parts to an attitude> cognitive (beliefs), affect (emotions) and behaviours (past behaviours towards
Correlations between all three> affect to behaviour, cognitive to behaviour.
Less correlated these factors are, the more ambivalent our attitudes are> less ambivalent= more
Combination of affect, accessible cognitions or beliefs and past experiences ARE the attitude> what we
store and report as attitudes.
How do we decide which model is correct?
Validity> the relationship between the model and reality
Convergent validity: measures of attitudes are correlated are similar to those of the model.
Do not get high correlations between the different components of attitudes (affect, behavioural, cognitive).
Measures within one component are correlated (e.g different measures of the cognitive component).
Discriminate validity: one particular model is more plausible than other models (statistically).
One study showed that the Three Factors model was better than the One Factor, other study said that the
One Factor model was better than both the 2 and 3 Factor model.
Different modes of storage> different models may be better at explaining the storage of a particular attitude
better than another model.
Zanna & Rempel: the affect, cognitive and behavioural aspects shape and drive the attitude towards a
Structure of Attitudes
Attitudes are related to each other
Higher (strong) attitudes can lead to the development of additional attitudes on similar things (vertical
structure of attitudes). Can happen the other way around so that lower attitudes (not as strong) may lead us to form a particular
attitude towards something related.
E.g religion attitude> attitude towards charity, personal giving, capital punishment.
Attitudes are not always consistent
Horizontal Structure: attitudes at the same level of strength should be related and are possibly stored
together in the brain or are connected in the brain.
Importance of attitudes are important> may shape behaviour, may shape emotional responses to things,
E.g religion, about God
Attitudes about ourselves are important because they can also shape our behaviours.
The type of person that an individual thinks they are will influence how they treat and act around others.
Belief and Self attitudes have a lot of influence on behaviour.
Correlations between attitudes assessed implicitly vs explicitly are relatively low in regards to the same
Which ones should we trust?
Those reflected of the self, gender, religion, racial/ethnic background> big differences when assessed
measured explicitly vs implicitly.
This is because these are things that are usually biased when asked explicitly because we want to appear
more desirable and not biased (some answers are NOT socially acceptable).
Social significance> politics, consumer products; there is a much higher correlation because the “right”
answer is no longer present (all answers are socially acceptable).
Central attitudes> higher correlations Structure & Function of Attitudes 01/17/2014
Day 2 January 17 th
Relationship between Explicit & Implicit Attitudes
Completely distinct constructs:
Greenwald & Banaji (1995): implicit attitudes are unidentified traces of past experience that mediate
favourable or unfavourable feeling, thought or action toward an object; explicit attitudes allow individuals to
be aware of the link.
Explicit= conscious processing; implicit= unconscious processing
Separate, interacting systems:
Gavronski & Bodenhausen (2006): see explicit and implicit attitudes as separate but interacting
Explicit= propositional reasoning; implicit= associative learning (classical conditioning; negative experience
with an object leads to a negative attitude).
May be positive for explicit and negative for implicit
Unconscious interacting of attitudes, relate some way to each other
On the same continuum:
Fazio & Olson (2003):
Explicit= conscious correction ofimplicit socially undesirable attitudes (only change attitudes consciously
if there is some important reason; time, necessary for social acceptance, motivation, opportunity etc.).
Implicit= motivation and opportunity to correct socially undesirable attitudes is not available (already implicit
Some censoring would be conscious and some unconscious
Activation of microconceptual networks: accessing bits of information about an attitude object
Bassili & Brown (2005):
Attitudes emerge from these networks that are activated by particular context configurations> constructing
attitudes on the fly.
Potentiated Recruitment model> constructing attitudes on the fly (whether we are constructing
these attitudes explicitly vs implicitly).
Attitudinal Cognitorium contains this information relevant for forming the attitude (past experience, things we
have read, etc). Structure & Function of Attitudes 01/17/2014
Explicit> bring things into working memory, evaluate and then report (retrieval of experience information).
Takes time and resources.
Direct Conscious Leisurely
Implicit> indirect unconscious bringing forth of relevant information that may not be the same as
the information brought forth for explicit attitudes.
Less time for the selection of relevant information
Indirect Unconscious Rapid
Explicit and implicit are based on the same information but is based on WHAT
information is retrieved consciously and unconsciously.
So which attitudes should we give more reliability and validity? Explicit or implicit?
Implicit Attitudes and Behaviour
Accurate measure is the one that most highly correlates with behaviours expressed based on expressed
Implicit attitudes do predict behaviour:
Related to unfriendly verbal/nonverbal behaviour toward Blacks. (Fazio, Jackson, Dunton & Williams, 1995).
Better predictor of behaviour towards White/Black experimenter than explicit. (McConnell & Liebold, 2001).
Predicted how far person sat from overweight woman with whom they expected to interact.(Bessenoff
Better predict unconscious than deliberate behaviour
Both implicit, explicit better predict behaviour but different kinds.
Agreement between Affective, Behavioural and Cognitive components of attitudes> intraattitudinal
correlation (when these three things are highly correlated).
More comfortable to have our emotions agree with our beliefs
Can change an attitude towards something by changing the emotions and behaviours that we exhibit
towards it (without changing the cognitions).
Manipulating these 3 aspects of attitudes can lead to attitude change. Structure & Function of Attitudes 01/17/2014
Affect> Cognition Agreement (Rosenburg 1960):
Posthypnotic suggestion> tried to change patient’s attitudes.
Patients ranked goals in terms of their value in terms of personal satisfaction:
All human beings have equal rights, People being well educated, etc
Then rank issues in terms of the extent to which they facilitate those goals:
Labor’s right to strike, comprehensive federal medical insurance, U.S and Canada uniting to form one
nation, Blacks moving into White’s neighbourhoods, etc.
Determine patient’s strongest attitudes towards certain goals.
Under hypnosis, given instructions> changed the affect towards the issues most important to them.
Reversal of relationship between issue and value
Reduction of issue and value of relationship (this issue has no relation to a particular goal).
Change in rating of values (from a negative value of 3 to a positive value of +5).
Behaviour> Affect + Cognition Consistency
Female university students evaluate consumer products for attractiveness, quality, usefulness.
Some allowed to choose one of two toprated products to keep (choice condition).
Some are able to keep one of the toprated products but were not able to chose which one they could have
Afterwards, reevaluate choices.
Choose Ratings given for the two toprated products were slightly higher for the product that the woman
Rating was higher after picking the product to keep vs when they were just rating it for the experiment.
Gift no change in attitude when they are not able to chose the product.
Cook, Pallas, Storms & McCall (1977): Structure & Function of Attitudes 01/17/2014
University students opposed to nuclear power plants write attitudinalconsistent, or counterattitudinal
Attitude measured again.
Green bar positivity, red negativity
Change in attitudes occurred in those who wrote the counterattitudinal and became less unfavourable
than before they had written it.
Therefore, one can change people’s beliefs/emotions towards something by making them engage in a
behaviour that is against those components of their attitude.
These attitudes do change back> have only changed these attitudes from negative to less negative .
Perspectives on AttitudeBehaviour Consistency
Singleact criteria: best predictor of a single act, is the intention to engage in that act.
E.g salvation army donation> most likely to do so is if you have expressed your conscious intention to do
so. Structure and Function of Attitudes