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Attitudes and Information Processing.docx

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Psychology 3723F/G
Martin Kavaliers

Attitudes and Information Processing; Religious Attitudes  Information processing stages: o Exposure  Attention, inspection o Interpretation  Perception, labeling, construal, attribution o Memory  Retrieval from storage, ease of learning o Polarization – not gonna talk about it  Extremity, effects of thinking about attitude Effects of Attitude on Attention  How do attitudes guide attention?  What kind of attitude-relevant information is most likely to be noticed?  Information that is consistent with one’s attitudes may often be noticed more than inconsistent information  Dissonance Theory, Leon Festinger, 1957 (lecture 8)  Selective exposure hypothesis o People seek out and are more likely to notice information that is consistent with their attitudes – approach component – consistent info is pleasing  E.g. decide to come to western, feel good when you learn that western is “The best student experience” in Canada o People avoid and rea less likely to notice information that is inconsistent with their attitudes – avoidance component –inconsistent info is distressing  E.g. buy a new car, don’t want to see negative reviews of it o Possible for one to be true and the other not o Early research largely non-supportive o To test hypothesis fairly, must control:  Usefulness of information - E.g. negative review of Honda civic are useful to civic owners  Novelty/curiosity value of information - E.g. pro-smoking pamphlet might arouse curiosity of non-smokers – no difference bc most don’t want to smoke  Personality variables - E.g. some people might show effects more  Sweeney & Gruber, 1984 – field study - Used survey data from 1974, when the Watergate scandal at its peak  Some respondents had voted for Nixon in 1972 [Nixon]  Some had voted for George McGovern [McGovern]  Some had not voted [undecided] - Respondents were asked if they were following the Watergate affair  Nixon (avoidance) < undecided < McGovern (approach) - Respondents were asked whether they were discussing the affair  Nixon = undecided < McGovern (approach) - Respondents’ knowledge of the affair was tested  Nixon (avoidance < undecided < McGovern (approach) - Asked how interested in politics they were (not affair specific)  Undecided < Nixon = McGovern  Olson & Zanna, 1979 - Used visual attention (eye gaze) as measure of exposure - Compared repressors and sensitizers Repressors: use “avoidance” defensive strategies – denial, repression, rationalization Sensitizers: use “approach” defensive strategies – intellectualization, rumination - P’s ranked 20 painting reproductions – “looking at aesthetic pref.” - Paticipants were “randomly” offered one of two pairs of paintings:  Their 3 or 15 favorite, or their 5 and 17 favorite - Expected to choose 3+15, and they did - P’s looked at paintings to choose one pair; eye gaze recorded - After choice announced, spontaneous visual eye gaze continued to be recorded for 3 minutes - Shoud spend more time looking at 3 and 17 (agree with behaviour) - Sensitizers % viewing time didn’t change or lowered for all but the ugly painting that they chose – trying to convince self it’s pretty - Repressors looked at the one they liked and got (3) and that they didn’t like and rejected (17) and actively avoided the others Effects of Attitudes on Interpretation  How do attitudes influence the interpretation of information?  Attitudes serve as a framework that guides interpretation of information  Often, information is seen as more supportive of one’s attitudes that it actually is  Example of selective interpretation: o Evaluation of the performance of candidates in a debate  Example of selective interpretation: o If we have a negative attitude toward a group, we will interpret actions by its members as threatening or negative  Vidmar & Rokeach, 1974 o Participants in London, Ontario watched an episode of “all in the family” o Ps’ racial attitudes had previously been assessed o High-prejudice p’s thought that the show affirmed the views of Archie, and Mike was the main target of sarcasm and humour o Low-prejudice p’s thought that the show affirmed the views of Mike, and Archie was the main target of sarcasm and humour (accurate)  Edwards & Smith, 1996 o P’s reported their attitudes on many issues, and read short arguments on each issue and rated each for strength (plausibility)  When the argument agreed with their attitudes, they rated 2x strength  Spent more time reading arguments incompatible with their attitudes - Probs spent more time looking for problems in opposing arguments  Lord, Ross, & Lepper, 1979 o Selected p’s with strong opinions about capital punishment (from both sides) o P’s first read a summary of an article reporting a study on capital punishment o Then read a more detailed description of the article o Repeated for a paper supporting the opposite argument o P’s evaluated each study for how well it was conducted o Both articles were equally sound in procedures etc o P’s reported attitudes toward capital punishment after reading both articles o Pro-capital p’s voted the pro-cap study 2x better, said other was terrible o Anti-capital p’s voted both as poorly conducted, but moreso the pro-cap o P’s asked to report attitudes toward cap punishment again  P’s became more extreme in whichever view they held - Ignored opposing info, used the agreeing info to back themselves up  The hostile media phenomenon o The tendency for people who feel strongly about an issue to believe that the media coverage of the issue is biased against their side  Vallone, Ross, & Lepper, 1985 (described in textbook)  Pro-israeli p’s thought television news coverage of the middle east was biased against Israelis  Pro-palestinian p’s thought television news coverage of the middle east was biased against Palestinians o Matheson & Durson, 2001 – similar Canadian study  Looked at coverage of the conflict in Bosni between Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Serbs in the 1990s  Specifically looked at newspaper coverage of the bombing of a market in Sarajevo in 1994  P’s recruited from Ottawa: - Bosnian muslims - Bosnian serbs - Carleton university students (neutral)  P’s read two newspaper stories on the bombing  Both articles stated that officials were unable to determine who was responsible – muslims or serbs  P’s were asked whether they thought the stories were fair and balanced, or were biased toward one side  Carleton students saw the articles as relatively biased against muslims,  muslims saw it as extremely anti-muslim  serbs viewed it as anti-serb biased  important additional finding!! - Perceived bias against one’s own side was stronger in peple who identified strongly with their ethnic group - Therefore, the effect seemed to reflect motivation: it was stronger in people who cared a lot about their ingroup - These findings may partly explain why “specialty” ethnic channels are becoming more popular Implications of these biases for intergroup conflict  Pessimistic view o Its very difficult to get opposing groups of partisans to view evidence similarly o Each side truly believes that the evidence objectively supports them o Therefore, conflicts are very difficult to resolve  Optimistic view o It may be possible to convince partisans that both sides have biased views o Perhaps knowledge of these biases can encourage sincere negotiation o Usually both sides will have to make concessions and accept a settlement that seems imperfect Effects of Attitudes on Memory  How do attitudes affect peoples’ memory for information?  Are some kinds of information easier to learn than other kinds?  Information that is consistent with one’s attitudes may be easier to learn and to retrieve from memory that information that is inconsistent with one’s attitudes  Roberts, 1984, experiment 1 o P’s were smokers, ex-smokers, and nonsmokers o Exposed to favourable and unfavourable statements about smoking o Unexpectedly tested for recall of statements  Smokers reme
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