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PSY320H1 Lecture Notes - Chocolate Cake

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Ashley Waggoner Denton

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May 14
Lecture 1: Introduction to Attitudes
An attitude is:
"A cognitive representation that summarizes an individual's evaluation of a particular attitude object"
"The categorization of a stimulus object along an evaluative dimension"
"An association in memory between a given object and a given summary evaluation of that object"
"A general and enduring positive or negative feeling about some person, object, or issue"
=>anything that can be "held in mind by the individual" can be an attitude object
Attitudes have two key dimensions:
1. direction (or valence)
2. intensity (strength)
-what does it mean to say that someone has a "strong" vs. a "weak" attitude toward something?
strong = passionate, stable, more likely to influence behaviour, more personally relevant,
more predictive of behaviour
(extremity/intensity, importance, knowledge, confidence/certainty, frequency, experience,
accessibility, consistency)
-these things don't necessarily go together
-sometimes our attitudes toward objects can be both positive and negative
=> known as ambivalent attitudes (NOT the same as having a neutral attitude)
-also different from ambiguous attitudes (unsure of how they feel about it)
example: chocolate cake
Attitude Structure
are attitudes stored in memory OR are they constructed on the spot?
-Russell Fazio vs. Norbert Schwartz
Fazio: attitudes as stored evaluative summaries
-attitudes are stored in memory and automatically activated when the object is encountered
-stored in memory just as any other type of knowledge, except in this case, it is evaluative
-some attitudes are constructed
-when required to make judgements or decisions regarding those objects for which we have no
stored evaluation
explanation for ambivalence:
-we can't have ambivalence in these cases
-may occur as a result of pre-decisional conflict before a summary evaluation has been formed
-ambivalence might occur in this pre-decisional stage
-may also occur when different categorizations of the object (eg. "fattening" vs. "delicious") compete for
-categorize cake as delicious dessert and that is linked to positivity but we can also categorize it as
unhealthy food, and then is linked to negativity
-we're thinking of cake in different ways
-not a result of simultaneous positive and negative evaluations, but of shifting construals of
the attitude object itself
Schwarz: attitudes as temporary constructions
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