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Lecture 4

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Emily Impett

Attitudes Attitudes: a psychological construct that represents your evaluations-your likes vs dislikes- of people objects and ideas. There are some things that you may feel neutral you have no negative and positive feelings. TheABC’s of attitude: A- Affect (emotions)- B- Behavior- motor cortex lights up for action C- Cognition (thoughts)- thoughts attached to people or ideas Is the bad stronger than the good? - Losing $10 is more painful that gaining $10 is pleasurable. - Frightening sound and bad smells are more physiologically arousing than delicious tastes. - Brief contact with a cockroach destroys a delicious meal. Where do attitudes come from? - Personal experience. “I saw cockroaches on my peanut butter sandwich…I no longer eat peanut butter sandwiches”. - Social learning. “My friend wants to be a social psychologist so I want to be a social psychologist”. - Genetic factors.Attitudes of identical twins more similar than of fraternal twins. - Evolutionary factors. Some deep fears that we have may have been adaptive in our evolutionary past. Do our attitudes influence our behavior? - In a study all women said no to casual and more than half the men agreed to casual sex. - Lapiere Study: Chinese couple study. 250/251 establishments served the Chinese couple when 90% of them in the letter said they “definitely would not” and the rest said they were “undecided”. - Bar study: people in a bar asked if they had sex with someone they just met would they use a condom. 100% said yes. But, 56% actually used it in their last encounter, and 29% always used it. - So, all these studies showed that attitudes don’t predict behavior well. Why do attitudes inconsistently predict behavior? - Sometimes our attitudes conflict with one another (affective and cognition not in alignment). o You might like something that you have negative beliefs about. For example, you like chocolate, but think that it is bad for your body. o You might dislike something that you have positive beliefs about. For example you don’t like jogging but think that it is good for your body. - General attitudes don’t predict behavior well. o Attitudes towards mass transit are a poor predictor of whether you will ride the bus. o Attitudes toward liberal vs conservative ideology are a poor predictor of how you will vote in an election. o Attitudes toward college is a poor predictor of whether you will like the class you will like this class because this class may be mandatory. - There are situational constraints on behavior. o You break your diet despite the best of intentions because your roommate baked chocolate chip cookies. o You love organic food but don’t buy them because you don’t have enough money. o You are in favor of condoms but don’t use them because your boyfriend/girlfriend pressured you. - Automatic behavior bypasses conscious attitudes o I feel fear and may step away slightly when I am walking toward a black man on a street. o (attitudes do predict behavior when there are a few situational constraints) WhenAttitudes and Behavior Clash: - People experience situations in which their behaviors clash with their attitudes. - This causes psychological discomfort - How do people deal with this discomfort? - This is what cognitive dissonance theory is all about. Cognitive dissonance: - The gap between our attitudes and behaviors produces psychological discomfort (dissonance) - Core ideas: o 1. Consonance is pleasant o 2. Dissonance is unpleasant o 3. We are motivated to reduce dissonance - Situation producing consonance: in favor of protecting environment-I leave my sports car at home and ride my bike- consonance- no pressure to change. - Situation producing dissonance: in favor of protecting the environment- I drive a gas guzzling sports car alone to work everyday- dissonance- pressure to change. - (it is easier to change an attitude than a behavior) Changing Our Tune (changing our attitude) - Post-decision dissonance. “I didn’t really want that thing anyway”. o University of Toronto, St. George. Pros: great variety of food options. Cons: sitting for hours in traffic. o University of Toronto, Mississauga. Pros: prof Impett teaches social psychology. Cons: you have to live with your parents. o Decision: Going to UTM. Having access to great food doesn’t really matter to me because I can’t afford it anyways. Living with my parents won’t be all that bad because I can save money. o Horse Race study:  Horse enthusiasts asked to rate the chances that their horse would win the race at 2 time points.  Ratings before they bet: “fair” on average.  Ratings after they bet: “good”. (approached by a different researcher)  “Are you working with that other fellow there? Well, I just told him that my horse had a fair chance of winning. Will you have him change that to a good chance? No, by God, make that an excellent chance.” (we change or attitude to make it consistent with our actions). - Effort justification. ‘I worked my butt off for it, so I must like it”. o Thinking “Why did I suffer for something that isn’t that great?” produces dissonance. o Finding reasons for why we have devoted time, effort, or money to something that has turned out to be unpleasant or disappointing. o Psychology of Sex Study:  Female college students volunteered to join a group to discuss the psychology of sex.  To be admitted to the group, students had to pass a screening procedure. (screening procedure was done by a male where they had to read out loud very sexual words to a male researcher). • Group 1: screening procedure was extremely demanding (sexually explicit words) • Group 2: screening procedure was mildly unpleasant (mildly sexual words) • Group 3: admitted to the group with no screening  All students listen in on what they think is a live discussion of the sex group  The sex group discussed the lives of cockroaches (very dull)  How much did participants like the discussion?  Results: the ones who suffered the most reported liking the discussion the most. - Induced compliance. When we are forced to say or do something and we cant change our behavior so we change our attitude. “I said it, so I must have meant it”. o Subtly compelling people to behave in a manner that is inconsistent with their beliefs, attitudes, or values, which typically leads to dissonance and to a change in their original attitudes or values in order to reduce dissonance. o Boring task Study:  Participants worked on a series of boring tasks  Control group: asked how
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