Behaviour and Attitude Change 03/06/2014
Day 1- March 5th
Relationship between behaviour and attitude change
How they interact
Change Through Behaviour
Biased scanning: behaviour affects attitudes by biasing our selection and processing of information.
Greenwald: counter-attitudinal essay leads writers to see opposing points as more valid.
Individuals had to evaluate the arguments’ validity
Compared to students who wrote attitudinal essays
Found that those preparing to write counter-attitudinal essays, rated the arguments more positively.
Albarracin & Wyer: false feedback about response to ‘subliminal’ statements biases thoughts towards
Told subjects that they were being exposed to subliminal arguments.
Told that their responses to the subliminal arguments were either positive or negative.
Those told their responses were positive, showed more positive attitudes towards the idea when accessed
Reward and incentives: behaviour affects attitudes because of its positive or negative
Reinforcement of a behaviour, attitude associated with the behaviour are increased in intensity.
Janis & Gilmore: counter-attitudinal essay writers change only if essay to be used for public welfare,
not to sell books.
More math and science classes before graduation.
Some individuals told the essay would be used for public education information or for selling books.
Rewarded behaviour changed attitudes.
Kelman: counter-attitudinal essay writers change only if prizes for best are scarce.
Some told that all would get a prize, others were told that only the top 5 would get them.
Greater positive attitude with scarce prizes.
Self-Perception Theory: we develop our attitudes by drawing inferences about them from our
behaviour towards attitude objects.
Use of behaviour to form attitudes
“I donate to charity, therefore I must have a positive attitude towards them.”
Cognitive consistency: cognitive dissonance; we modify our attitudes to be consistent with our
beliefs and our behaviour.
We want our behaviour to be consistent with our attitudes.
Can’t change the behaviour we have already performed but can change the attitude change the attitude to
Heider’s Balance Theory
Says that we can construe many situations as a triad of elements:
Between each 3 elements, whatever they are, there are valenced links between them.
+= positive, like; -= negative, dislike indicate valence with a positive or negative sign and by colour.
E.g P1 could be the audience (you), P2 the source and P3 the message.
Someone you like (+ between P1 and P2), delivers a message that they agree with (+ btwn P2 & P3), but
you disagree with the message (- between P1 & P3).
This is considered to be an unbalanced triad
The triad being unbalanced could be determined by you OR by multiplying the signs of the links.
If the product of the triad is + then it is balanced, if the product is – then its unbalanced.
Three ways to make the triad balanced:
Determine that the source is full of crap; someone I don’t like supports something that I disagree with.
Determines that the source does not really believe what they are saying; example is a celebrity endorser.
More usual: change the link between you and the message; I like this person so maybe their message is
According to Heider, the weakest link will change; the links between each component may have
E.g link between you and source is +5, link between source and message is +9, dislike of the message is
In this circumstance the weakest link is between you and the message and so it changes in the opposite
Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance Theory (1957)
We strive to maintain consistency between our attitudes and between attitudes and behaviours.
We experience consonance when they are consistent.
We may experience inconsistency dissonance; a bad feeling that we are motivated to eliminate.
Inconsistency may occur when:
Making decisions-> maybe we made the wrong decision
Unexpected outcomes-> favourite hockey team did not make the playoffs when we expected them to.
Getting new information-> behaviour may turn out to be detrimental when we thought it was good.
Among beliefs-> something may taste good but are bad.
Between beliefs and behaviours-> believe cheating is wrong but we cheat on a test because we didn’t study
Strength of the motive of dissonance depends on:
Importance of the inconsistency-> low importance, low dissonance experienced.
Proportion of inconsistent elements-> equal positive and negative qualities towards something= more
Dissonance Reduction: activities we perform to reduce this unpleasant feeling.