Attitudes can have three components: affect, cognition, and behavior. Researchers have
developed many ways to measure attitudes, including explicit self-reports, implicit indices, and
Predicting Behavior from Attitudes
- LaPiere spent two years touring the United States with a young Chinese couple, visiting
numerous hotels, auto camps, restaurants, and cafés
o Although prejudice and discrimination against Chinese individuals were common
at the time, LaPiere and his traveling companions were denied service by only
one of the 250 establishments they visited.
o Maybe anti-Chinese prejudice wasn’t so strong after all
o To find out, LaPiere wrote to all of the establishments they had visited and asked
whether their policy was to serve “Orientals.”
Approximately 90 percent of those who responded said they would not, a
response rate that was stunningly inconsistent with what LaPiere actually
observed during his earlier tour of the country.
o This result was unfortunate in human terms because it indicated that anti-
Chinese prejudice was indeed rather robust
- After all, there are many reasons for failing to act on our attitudes
Attitudes can Conflict with Other Powerful Determinants of Behavior
- Attitudes all compete with other determinants of behavior
- The situationist message of social psychology (and of this book) suggests that attitudes
don’t always win out over these other determinants, and hence attitudes are not always
tightly connected to behavior
- One potent determinant of a person’s actions that can weaken the relationship between
attitudes and behavior is that person’s understanding of the prevailing norms of
Attitudes can be Inconsistent
- First, attitudes may conflict with one another.
o We might like great acting but dislike arrogance.
- Second, the different components of an attitude may not always align.
o In particular, there can be a rift between the affective component (what we feel
about Russell Crowe) and the cognitive component (what we think about him).
o When the affective and cognitive components are inconsistent, it’s no surprise
that the attitude may not predict behavior very well.
o The cognitive component might determine the attitude we express, but the
affective component might determine our behavior (or vice versa).