ch. 6 - attitudes and persuasion

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Chapter 6
The nature and origin of attitudes
Attitude: an evaluation of a person, object, or idea
Attitudes are evaluative in that they consist of a positive or negative reaction to something
An attitude is made up of 3 components:
oAffective component, consisting of emotional reactions toward the attitude object (eg.
Another person or social issue)
oCognitive component, consisting of thought and beliefs about the attitude object, and
oBehavioural component, consisting of actions or observable behaviour toward the attitude
Affectively based attitudes
Affectively based attitude: an attitude based primarily on peoples emotions and feelings about
the attitude
oex. when voting, people seem to vote more with their hearts than their minds so basing
their decision to vote for a political candidate on how they feel about the person or the
party, rather than on a well-reasoned evaluation of the policies
where do effectively based attitudes come from?
oOne source is peoples values such as their religious and moral beliefs
Affectively based attitudes have certain key features in common:
oThey do not result from a rational examination of the issues
oThey are not governed by logic (eg. Persuasive argument about the issues seldom change
an affectively based attidue); and
oThey are often linked to peoples values, so that trying to change them challenges those
Cognitively based attitude
Cognitively based attitude: an attitude based primarily on a persons beliefs about the properties
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of an attitude object
The purpose of this kind of attitude is to classify the pluses and minuses of an object so we can
quickly tell whether it is worth our while to have anything to do with it
oEx. consider your attitude toward a vacuum cleaner
oSo your attitude is likely to be based on your beliefs of the vaccum like how well they
vacuum dirt and how much they cost and not how sexy they make you feel
Behaviourally based attitudes
Behaviourally based attitudes: an attitude based primarily on observations of how one behaves
toward an attitude object
Under certain circumstances people dont know how they feel until they see how they behave
oEx. you ask a friend how much she enjoys exercising. If she replies well, i guess i like it,
because i always go for a run or go to the gym we would say she has a behaviourally
based attitude.
oHer attitude is based on an observation of her own behaviour than on her cognition or
Comparing affective, cognitive, and behavioural bases of attitudes
When attitudes are negative toward particular groups, they are often cognitively based. beliefs that
these groups threaten your value of system
Attitudes toward other social groups that are positive, the attitudes are more likely to be based on
affect – how people feel about these groups
Attitudes toward social issues such as capital punishment were more likely to be based on how
people felt about the issue (affect) rather than on their thought about it (cognition)
It appears that if we dislike the group, our attitudes are likely to have a cognitive basis
specifically, the belief that the group threatens our value system
Attitudes toward group that we like are apt to be based on our feelings toward that group (affect)
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Explicit versus implicit attitudes
One an attitude develop, it can exist at 2 levels:
oExplicit attitudes: attitudes that we consciously endorse and can easily report so what we
think of as our evaluations when someone asks us a question such as what is your
opinion on imposing carbon taxes?”
oImplicit attitudes: attitudes that are involuntary, uncontrollable, and at time unconscious
ex. Sam believes that all races are equal. This is his explicit attitude, in the sense that it is his
conscious evaluation of members of other races that governs how he chooses to act. When he is
around people from Pakistan, some negative feelings are triggered automatically and
unintentionally so he has negative implicit attitude toward Pakistanis, which is likely to influence
behaviours he is not monitoring or controlling, such as how nervous he acts around them
The theory of planned behaviour
theory of planned behaviour: a theory that the best predictors of a person`s planned, deliberate
behaviours are the person`s attitudes toward specific behaviours, subjective norms, and perceived
behavioural control
Specific attitudes
specific behaviour: people`s specific attitude toward the behaviour, not their general attitude
so the theory of planned behaviour hold that only specific attitudes toward the behaviour in
question can be expected to predict that behaviour
oex. in a study, married woman were asked about their attitudes toward birth control pilling
ranging from the general (the women`s attitude toward birth control) to specific (their
attitude toward using birth control pills during the next 2 years)
othe general attitude didnt take into account other factors that could have influenced their
decision, like concern about the long-term effects of the pill and their attitudes toward
other form of birth control.
oThe more specific the question was about the act of using birth control pills, the better
this attitude predicted their actual behaviour
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