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Chapter 6.docx

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Western University
Psychology 2070A/B
Kelly Olson

Chapter 6: Attitudes and Social Behaviour WHAT ARE ATTITUDES? ATTITUDES: EVALUATIONS OF TARGETS Attitude - an individual's evaluation of a target along a good-bad dimension o The target can be an object, an issue, a person, a group, a behaviour, or any other identifiable aspect of the environment o Attitudes cannot be seen directly, so researches infer attitudes from individuals' observable responses Attitudes always have a target - may be broad, almost an infinite number of targets THREE PARTS OF ATTITUDES 1. Affective/Emotional reactions o Ex. Cockroaches make you feel sick because they are disgusting 2. Cognitive information o Ex. You know that cockroaches are likely to infest dirty or old buildings, and you believe they can spread disease - that they crawl around at night making them secretive and frightening - they're also hard to get rid of 3. Past behaviour o Remember recoiling from a cockroach and expressing disgust or even screaming involuntarily - remembering that you've killed them in the past so obviously if you remember killing them, you'll conclude that you dislike them Thus, soc psychologists have proposed that whether an individual evaluates a target positively or negatively depends on those three things, 1. how the object makes the person feel, 2. the person's beliefs about the object, 3. the person's previous actions toward the object Confusing issue: the two-way relation b/w attitudes and behaviour o Previous behaviour towards a target may contribute to an individual's current attitude toward the target - but don't current attitudes also cause future behaviour?? o The answer is that both directions of influence can occur - past behaviours influence current attitudes, and current attitudes influence future behaviour Ambivalent attitudes - evaluations of targets that include both positive and negative elements - an unpleasant experience o Ex. Chocolate cake - positive feelings, yummyyy - negative beliefs, fattttt o Ex. Susan's jokes - make you laugh - but she can be an idiot so no Ambivalent attitudes can lead to different behaviour over time because either the positive or the negative elements about the target may come to mind at a particular point, and whichever element is dominant will drive behaviour Low ambivalence = no variable responses - you either love it or hate it, like cockroaches EXPLICIT VERSUS IMPLICIT ATTITUDES Explicit attitudes - evaluations that people can report consciously o Ex. You're aware that you hate cockroaches, like giraffes - can report this in confidence on a self-report scale o Reflect "higher-level" (more extensive processing) evaluations that are based on rational beliefs about the object and its features Implicit attitudes - automatic evaluative responses to a target, which may occur without awareness o A spontaneous, immediate, good-bad response to the target that cannot be consciously controlled - reflects how the individual evaluates the target at a subconscious level Ch 6: 1 o Reflect "low-level" (minimal processing) associations between objects and evaluations o Conform to explicit attitudes Sometimes there is inconsistencies bw explicit and implicit attitudes PERCEPTIONS OF OTHERS' ATTITUDES There is a common structure to people's perceptions of others' attitudes - two dimensions are most important: o Liberal vs conservative o Traditional vs novel (radical) Thus, perceptions of other peoples attitudes tend to be guided by consideration of the extent to which the others are liberal or conservative and traditional or innovative WHY DO WE EVALUATE? ASSESSING OBJECTS Humans benefit from quick assessments of the positive or negative implications of objects that they encounter in the environment - attitudes provide these rapid evaluations Object-appraisal function - a function of attitudes in which attitudes provide rapid evaluative judgements of targets, facilitating approach or avoidance o The principal reason as to why humans have evolved to form attitudes o Dogs exhibit this too - less complex as ours though - theirs is based more on affect than on cognition EXPRESSING VALUES Values - broad, abstract standards or goals that people consider to be important guiding principles in their life o Ex. Freedom, equality, and happiness People's values are related to their attitudes toward specific issues o Ex. Religious people = no birth control or gay marriage Value-expressive function - a function of attitudes in which attitudes communicate individuals' identity and values - allows them to connect to some groups and become distinct from others o Teens embracing "heavy metal" to associate with some peers and dissociate from parents LOL TESTING THE FUNCTIONS OF ATTITUDES Several studies were conducted in which participants were induced to form attitudes that served either object-appraisal or value-expressive functions - these studies confirmed the assumption that the motivations underlying object-appraisal attitudes differ from those underlying value-expressive Attitudes toward coffee = object-appraisal Attitudes toward perfume = value-expressive o Bc projects a desired image An advertisement for object appraisal functioning attitudes, like coffee, should then focus on the positive features of the coffee and the rewards it will bring o Ex. You'd say "the delicious, hearty flavour and aroma of sterling blend coffee come from a blend of the freshest coffee beans" - NOT "the coffee you drink ca reveal your rare, discriminating taste" Ad for value expressive, like perfume, should focus on the desirable impression the perfume will make on others Ch 6: 2o Ex. "cadeau perfume is the sophisticated scent that tells people you are not one of the crowd" - NOT "the fresh, floral scent of cadeau perfume comes from a balanced blend of oils and essences" MEASURING ATTITUDES Validity refers to whether a measure actually assesses what it is supposed to assess Reliability refers to whether participants' scores on the measure are stable and free from "random" fluctuations SELF-REPORT MEASURES OF ATTITUDES Since people are generally aware of their attitudes - attitude measurements are mostly self-report LIKERT-TYPE SCALES Likert-type scales - an attitude measurement technique that requires respondents to indicate the extent of their agreement or disagreement with several statements on an issue Used by researchers the most Five possible responses: disagree strongly, disagree, undecided, agree, agree strongly Attitudes are calculated from 1 to 5, with higher numbers always reflecting the same direction of attitude, and then summing the numbers Advantages: easy for researchers to construct, clear and simple for respondents to complete, produce reliable scores SEMANTIC DIFFERENTIAL SCALES Semantic differential scale - an attitude measurement technique that requires respondents to rate a target on several evaluative dimensions (such as good-bad and favourable-unfavourable) Bad _ _ _ _ _ Good (put an x) Respons
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