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Attitude Structure and Attributes.docx

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Western University
Psychology 3723F/G
Martin Kavaliers

Attitude Structure and Attributes; Personality and Attitudes; Attitudes toward the Environment Intra-attitude structure  Structure within the attitude a) What are the internal components of attitudes?  Labeled “attitude content” in ch. 2 (first “witch”)  Can be based on 1(+) of the 3 information’s in the CAB model b) How many dimensions underlie attitudes?  Labeled “attitude structure” in ch.2 (second “witch”)  Are attitudes unidimensional? - Extremely negative – neutral – extremely positive  Or are they bidimensional? - Not at all negative – extremely negative AND - Not at all positive – extremely positive - Ambivalent attitudes:  Less stable over time  More easily changed  Less predictive of behaviour  Unpleasant for perceiver because:  We dislike inconsistency  We dislike uncertainty  Conner et al conducted an experiment on ambivalence of attitudes toward eating a low fat diet  Attitudes predicted behaviour better when ambivalence was low Inter-attitude structure  Structure between attitudes  How are different attitudes related to one another? 1. Hierarchical (or vertical) structure a. Are more specific/narrow attitudes nested within/below more general/broad attitudes? i. Implications for attitude change:  If a higher-level attitude/value changes, then lower-level attitudes may also be influenced, especially if person becomes aware of potential inconsistency 2. Horizontal structure a. Is the attitude embedded within a complex array or network of related attitudes? i. Implications for attitude change:  Attitudes that areembedded in a more complex array may be more difficult to change 3. consistency between attitudes a. people want their attitudes to be consistent with one another – to “make sense” in the context of our other attitudes b. most famous theory building on assumption of desire for consistency: i. dissonance theory c. another consistency model: i. balance theory (Fritz Heider)  proposed that people prefer “balanced” relations among their attitudes  awareness of “unbalanced” relations is aversive and motivates people to create balance by changing one of the elements  important early model of consistency  best known application: “triads” involving 2 people 1 target  if P becomes aware of unbalanced relations: change attitude toward X change liking for O (p cannot easily change o’s liking for x)  limitations:  overly simplistic  doesn’t consider strength or degree of liking by P of O or X  doesn’t consider reciprocal liking/disliking from O to P  doesn’t consider that relationships often involve multiple attitudes: people can share some attitudes with an individual but also disagree with them on other issues 4. Social Judgment Theory i. Most theories of attitudes assume that attitudes are a single specific “position” on an issue – a person’s overall evaluation of an object ii. SJT views attitudes as a continuum of evaluations: a range of acceptable positions, unacceptable positions, and positions toward which the individual has no strong commitment  These ranges of positions = “latitudes” - Latitude of acceptance  Those which indiv. Finds acceptable - Latitude of rejection  Those which indiv. Finds unacceptable - Latitude of noncommitment  For which indiv has no strong feelings  People who are highly ego-involved in an issue tend to have larger latitudes of rejection and smaller latitudes of noncommitment  Messages that argue for a position in the latitude of rejection are rejected outright and produce no persuasion (perhaps even a boomerang) Attributes of attitudes  What characteristics or features differ from one attitude to another?  What attributes of attitude are important?  How to attitudes differ from on another in ways that influence important consequences of the attitudes?  8 common attributes o valence  good/bad  positive/negative  favorable/unfavorable  direction:pro/con  the most fundamental attribute of attitudes  reflect the good vs bad evaluation of the attitude object o ambivalence  contains both positive and negative elements  positive and negative elements are extreme  positive and negative elements are equally extreme  reflects the extent to which valence of attitude is ambiguous o extremity  extent to which attitude deviates from midpoint of good-bad scale  can be in favorable or unfavorable direction o accessibility  ease of retrieval or activation of attitude  strength of link between attitude object and evaluation  measured by speed of response to attitude question o importance  degree to which person cares about attitude  perceived significance of attitude  measured by subjective rating of importance o certainty  extent to which person is convinced that the attitude is correct  confidence with which the person holds the attitude  measured by subjective rating of certainty o ego-involvement  extent to which the attitude is linked to core aspects of self  sometimes measured by size of latitude of rejection  sometimes measured by subjective rating of ego-involvement o direct experience  attitude is based on personal interaction with object  object has been encountered directly  usually measured by self-reports of behavioural experience with object  some of these attributes are conceptually related to one another o i.e. extremity & accessibility = intensity of attitude o i.e. ambivalence & certainty & direct experience = confidence in attitude  one label has been used to encompass many of these attributes:  Attitude strength o Strong/weak o Has impact/does not have impact o Consequential/inconsequential o Jon Krosnick and Richard Petty (1995)  Proposed that attitude strength is best defined in terms of its effects or consquences  Many specific attributes can generate these consequences, perhaps in different ways  Strong attitudes: - Stable over time - Resistant to change - Guide information processing - Predict behaviour  Attributes that may be associated with attitude strength (7 of 8 prev.): - Ambivalence (low) - Extremity - Accessibility - Importance - Certainty - Ego-involvement - Direct experience  All of these attributes have been shown to be associated with all of the defining features of attitude strength mentioned  Perhaps they all reflect a single underlying dimension: attitude strength o Krosnick et el., 1993  Measured 13 variables potentially related to attitude strength  Included 6 attributes defined earlier: - Extremity - Accessibility - Importance - Certainty - Ego-involvement - Direct experience  The different attributes were moderately intercorrelated, except ego- involvement - Suggests that the attributes do NOT all reflect the same underlying dimension (e.g. “attitude strength”)  Factor analysis indicated a multi-factor model fit the data best  Thus, the dimensions are similar to one another in some respects, but can be treated as distinct concept Personality and Attitudes Personality Traits: broad patterns of feelings, thoughts, and actions, which are relatively stable across time and settings and make the individual different from other people Seems likely that many personality traits can influence specific attitudes, e.g.:  Sensation-seeking affects liking for thrilling activities  Extraversion affects liking for parties  Intelligence affects liking for chess Two personality traits have more broad implications for attitudes: 1. Need to evaluate o Jarvis & Petty, 1996  The chronic tendency to engage in evaluative activity  The chr
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