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Chapter 4- Behaviour and Attitudes Textbook Notes From Social Psychology -Myers, Spencer, Jordan -4th ed.

Course Code
Emiko Yoshida

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Chapter 4: Behaviour and Attitudes
How Well Do Our Attitudes Predict Our Behaviour?
- Attitude: a favourable or unfavourable evaluative reaction toward something or
someone, exhibited in one’s beliefs, feelings, or intended behaviour
Are We All Hypocrites?
- Festinger concluded the evidence did not show that changing attitudes changes
o He believed that the attitude-behaviour relation works the other way around with
the behaviour as the horse and our attitudes as the cart
- Wicker believed that people’s expressed attitudes hardly predicted their varying
o E.g., student’s attitudes toward cheating bore little relation to the likelihood of
their actually cheating, attitudes toward the church were only modestly linked
which church attendance on any given Sunday
- Baston and colleagues called the disjuncture between attitudes and actions, “moral
o They asked participants to assign themselves a task (appealing or boring) and
assign a second participant the other task
o Found that only 1 of 20 believed that assigning the appealing task to themselves
was the most moral thing to do however, 80% of the participants did so
o In follow-up experiments of moral hypocrisy, participants were given coins they
could flip privately if they wished
o Even if they chose to flip, 90% assigned themselves to the appealing task
- Baston and colleagues put a sticker on each side of the coin, indicating what the flip
outcome would signify still, 24/28 people who made the toss assigned themselves to
the appealing task when morality and greed were put on a collision course, greed won
- The developing picture of what controls behaviour emphasized external social influences
such as others’ behaviour and expectations, and played down internal factors such as
attitudes and personality
When Attitudes Predict Behaviour
- Our behaviour and our expressed attitudes differ because both are subject to other
- When social influences on what we say are minimal;
o Researchers can never get a direct reading on attitude, so they measure
expressed attitudes
o They subtly assess attitudes by measuring facial responses to statements
o Another method offers a bogus pipeline to the heart
It wires people to a fake lie detector which participants are told is real and
researchers show them how well it displays their (previously) obtained
attitudes and then ask them new questions
o In one study, students admitted more prejudice when hooked up no wonder
people who are first persuaded that lie detectors work may then admit the truth
o Another subtle attitude measure is the implicit association test (IAT) which uses
reaction times to measure how quickly people associate concepts
E.g., one can measure implicit racial attitudes by assessing whether
White people take longer to associate positive words with Black rather
than White faces
Across 126 studies implicit attitude measures by the IAT have correlated
on average a modest 0.24 with explicit self-reported attitudes

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- When others influence on behaviour are minimal;
o It’s not only our inner attitudes that guide us, but also the situation we face
o Predicting people’s behaviour is like predicting a baseball player’s hitting the
outcome of any particular time at bat is nearly impossible to predict because it is
affected not only by the batter, but also by what the pitcher throws and by chance
When we aggregate many times at bat, we neutralize these complicating
Knowing the players, we can predict their approximate batting averages
o E.g., People’s general attitude toward religion poorly predicts whether they will go
to worship next weekend (because the weather, the preacher, how one is feeling,
But religious attitudes predict quite well the total quantity of religious
behaviours over time
o The findings define a principle of aggregation the effects of an attitude on
behaviour become more apparent when we look at a person’s aggregate or
average behaviour rather than at isolated acts
- When attitudes specific to behaviour are examined;
o Ajzen and Fishbein point out that when the measured attitude is general (e.g.,
attitude toward Asians) and the behaviour is specific (e.g., whether to help an
Asian couple), we should not expect a close correspondence between words and
Found that 26 out of 27 studies, attitudes did not predict behaviour
But, attitudes did predict behaviour in all 26 studies they could find in
which the measured attitude was directly applicable to the situation
Thus, attitudes toward the general concept of “health fitness” poorly
predicted specific exercise and dietary practices whether people jog is
more likely to depend on their options about the costs and benefits of
o Theory of Planned Behaviour:
Behaviour intention
o Attitude toward the behaviour
“I’m for physical fitness”
o Subjective norms
“My neighbours seem to be jogging and going to
the gym”
o Perceived control
“I could easily do this”
Attitude toward the
Subjective Norms
Perceived Control
Behaviour Intention

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- When attitudes are powerful;
o Bringing attitudes to mind:
In novel situations, our behaviour is less automatic we think before we
Snyder and Swann wanted to know is people are prompted to think about
their attitudes before acting, will they be truer to themselves
2 weeks after 120 of their students indicated their attitudes toward
affirmative-action employment policies, Snyder and Swann invited
them to act as jurors in a sex-discrimination court case
Only if they first induced the students to remember their attitudes
by giving them a few minutes to organize their thoughts and
views on the affirmative-action issue did attitudes predict verdicts
Similarly, people who take a few moments to review their past behaviour
express attitudes that better predict their future behaviour
Our attitudes guide our behaviour is we think about them
Self-conscious people usually are in touch with their attitudes
Thus, another way to induce people to focus on their inner
convictions make them self-conscious, perhaps by having them
face a mirror
Diener and Wallbom noted that nearly all university students say that
cheating is morally wrong they had students work on an anagram-
solving task (said to predict IQ) and told them to stop when a bell in the
room sounded
Found that those left alone, 71% cheated by working past the bell
Found that students who were made self-aware (by working in
front of a mirror), only 7% cheated
o The power of attitudes forged through experience:
We acquire attitudes in a manner that makes them sometimes potent,
sometimes not
Fazio and Zanna show that when attitudes arise from experience, they
are far more likely to endure and to guide actions
They conducted a study with their university a housing shortage
forced students to assign some first-year students to several
weeks on cots in dormitory lounges while others basked in the
relative luxury of permanent rooms
Found that students in both groups had equally negative attitudes
about the housing situation and how the administration was
dealing with it
Given the opportunities to act on their attitudes (to sign a petition
and solicit other signatures, to join a committee to investigate the
situation, to write a letter), only those whose attitudes grew from
direct experience with the temporary housing acted
Compared to attitudes, formed passively, those forged in the first of
experience are more thoughtful, more certain, more stable, more resistant
to attack, more accessible, and more emotionally charged
And when the emotional and belief components of an attitude are
consistent, the attitude moves behaviour as strong as attitudes do
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