Lecture 3: Attitudes Structure
4 models of Attitudes Structure:
1. Uni dimensional:
Affective or emotional oriental to an object along to a single dimension of favourability or
Like or dislike
Semantic differential: measure the connotative and explicit emotions to an object.
2. Bi dimensional:
Affective and cognitive components
Not just emotions, but also beliefs and thoughts
I believe this is wrong, thus I hate it!
Sahachter & Singer:
Emotions are derived from a combination of arousal and cognitions are used to
people search the immediate environment for emotionally relevant cues to label and
interpret unexplained physiological arousal
Participants who were injected with epinephrine experienced greater emotional
responses consistent with their situations.
They were happy with happy people and angry with angry people. However that is
only when they were unaware of the effects of the arousal manipulations.
a) Misinformed: told that they were not given an epinephrine shot but they were
b) Was given an epinephrine shot and then told that they were given an
c) Was given an epinephrine shot but was not told that it was an epinephrine shot
Results: Participants had the greatest emotional change when they were with a
happy/angry confederate when they were injected with epinephrine and they were
(1) misinformed and (2) unaware.
Analysis: People would tend to attribute their feelings to the outside world when they
have no other explanation. I am feeling arousal because of this happy person beside
me, thus I am feeling happy too!
4 feelings: indifferent, negative, positive and ambivalent.
In this case, this is bi-dimensional as it has positive and negative as 2 separate
components, but not on the same scale.
Bivariate (2 variables) instead of bipolar (one end to the other).
Positive ranges from high to low, negative ranges from high to low also!
If you do not think that it is bad and you think that it is good, then you are positive!
If you do not think that it is good and you think that it is bad, then you are negative.
If you feel neither good nor bad, you are indifferent. If you feel both good and bad, then you are ambivalent. Perhaps it reminds you of
something you lost!
To allow for the possibility of ambivalence and indifference, attitudes might not be best
defined as either good or bad evaluations.
Attitudes are best described as a bivariate space model rather than bipolar states.
Evaluative Space Model:
There are 2 dimensions of positive to negative (vertically and horizontally) and these
can make the 4 possibilities.
Attitude = 0.4(P+C)^5 – 0.6(N)^0.5
As you can see the negativity has a greater factor than the positivity. That is due
to the negative valence being weighted more heavily than the positive valence.
Name of psychological phenomenon in which people pay more attention to and
give more weight to negative experiences rather than positive experiences.
Bad is more attention grabbing than good; we are vigilant of threats.
We register signals of immediate threat more that we register signals of safety.
Image if you enter your house, there is a guy who said that you have earned 10
million dollars and then at the same time your house is also on fire. You would
pay attention to the negative things because you need to focus on bad things
first even though the bad is bad just as much as good is good.
We need to protect ourselves evolutionary. We can always come back to the
positive things later!
The amygdala is associated with negative learning and fear. When something is
bad the amygdala is activated more.
The amygdala is associated to emotional intensity, regardless of goodness or
badness of stimuli.
It is associated with processing motivationally relevant information. Since we are
more motivated to attend to bad stimuli and the amygdala is more motivated to
People tend to interpret neutral situations as mildly positive.
As you can see in the equation, when both positive and negative are 0. There is a
constant that adds to the positive side of the equation.
Most people tend to rate life as good most of the time, at least when there is no
Allows us to eagerly approach new situations rather than avoid them.
Not negative is pretty positive.
Bad is more attention grabbing, more tension but the strengths in their badness and
goodness are the same.
Electrical Activity recorded on the scalp. Can look at brain activity associated with the processing of evaluative stimuli
Useful as we have timelines of activation. We can compare how fast the brain
reacts to it to how fast the person saw it.
Problems: can only measure outside of brain and cannot get to the specific areas
The late Positive Potential:
The positive in LPP does not mean well, it means a late positive spike due to an
incongruent violent stimulus.
It takes longer to process evaluative incongruent stimuli, possibly due to a time
lapse of switching from one brain to another.
Good images can help process other good images, but cannot help process bad
Suddenly a wolf after a kitten.
Begins about 400ms after stimulus presentation. If it is any less than 400ms, then
our brain cannot pick it up.
Due to attitude extremity
Cunningham et al.
Negative information is processed more in the right side and positive information
is processed more on the left.
Also proven by Davidson et al. that happy activated more on the left side of the
brain whilst disgust activated more on the right side of the brain while watching
3. Three dimensional model
The ABCs of attitudes.
Attitude does not always predict behaviour. Behaviour can also be changed if something
goes wrong when you perform certain behaviour and thus you change your attitude.
A change in one component can change the other components.
However there are exceptions, social norms can cause someone to change their behaviour
but might not be able to change their attitude.
It is taboo to act in a racist behaviour, however just because people do not act that way
does not mean that they ARE not racist.
However if their good behaviour is rewarded, then they might feel good and actually
change their attitude.
Cognitive dissonance: discomfort when holding 2 conflicting beliefs.
Attitudes objects are nodes in an associative network.
Attitudes are associations between an object and an evaluation. Associative networks: can think of an attitude how you remember you evaluate the
The more the link is activated, the stronger the attitude.
Node model: a scale of good and bad. Depending on the situations the factors will vary.
E.g. I have 3 good things and 3 bad things about my car. However depending on how good
the good is and how bad the bad is, we might not turn out to be ambivalent. We might
turn out to be pretty positive.
We can rate each positive and negative thing on a scale of 1 to 3.
Attitude = Sum of (Belief x evaluation).
Your attitude is the sum of all positive and the negative things about it.
However if you have been doing this for a long time, you do not keep thinking about all the
negative and positive things.
For something of the first time, you have to think about the pros and cons.
However after a long time, there is just a general feeling as our brain tends to use shortcuts and
Sometimes this short-cutting is good but sometimes it is bad!
Beliefs are the full set of what is known about the attitude object.
Each of the beliefs has an evaluative component.
Belief Premise: The cognitive component of attitude. WHY?
Evaluative Premise: A person’s emotion or affective reaction to the belief (Emotion Belief)
Minor Premise (belief): Defence spending creates jobs
Major Premise (evaluation): Creating jobs is good.
Conclusion: Defence spending is good.
Horizontal structure: adding up the reasons to reach a conclusion. Summation.
Vertical structure: This reason causes this which then causes this which is good. Qualitative.
P(C)= P(A)p(B) + P(K)
P(C) is how certain are we of this belief based on the probabilities of the sub-beliefs coming true
How much you believe are the combinations of all the probabilities of your beliefs coming true
with the addition of P (K).
P (k) is the additional evaluative aspects that are not discussed. Other reasons that the P (C)
might be bad.
P (Defence spending is bad) = (0.10) (1.00) + (0.60) = 1.00
Lecture 3: Attitudes Function
Object Appraisal (Assessing) Function
Attitudes help us to make decisions faster.
Attitudes help us to make decisions in situations with insufficient information.
Certain political attitude masks other related attitudes.
Attitudes toward affirmative action may reflect attitudes towards race and ethnicity. The symbolic politics allows some attitudes to be expressed in a more socially desirable way.
Some people might say that they do not agree with affirmative action as they want people to be
based on merits. However they might be masking their prejudice.
Attitudes Serve Functions (Katz):
1. Utilitarian function
People adopt attitudes that are rewarding and that help them avoid punishment.
I have a house and