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Western University
Psychology 2070A/B
Richard Sorrentino

Social Psychology Textbook Notes for Second Midterm Chapter Six Attitudes and Social Behaviour What Are AttitudesAttitude an individuals evaluation of a target along a goodbad durationThe target can be an object an issue a person a group a behaviour or any other identifiable aspect of then environment a colour an emotionBy evaluation theorists mean that an attitude is a badgood judgment it represents the individuals overall assessment of whether a particular target is positive or negativeAttitudes always have a targetthey are directed at something ranging from broad ideologies or values to controversial issues to people to groups to objects to behaviours there are an infinite amount of targetsSocial pychs have been interested mainly in attitudes that are directed at important targets such as controversial issues ethnic groups and consequential behavioursThree Parts of Attitudes Attitudes comes from three sources affect cognition and past behaviourMark Zanna and John Rempel proposed whether an individual evaluates a target positively or negatively will depend on three things 1 how the object makes the person feel 2 the persons beliefs about the object 3 the persons previous actions towards the objectTargets that arouse negative feelings and emotions are more likely to generate unfavourable attitudeTargets that are know or believed to posses negative characteristics are more likely to generate unfavourable attitudesTwoway relation between attitudes and behaviour o Previous behaviour toward a target contributes to an individuals current attitude toward the target o Current attitudes cause future behaviourGreg Maio attitudes towards certain targets depend mostly on peoples feelings towards those targets whereas attitudes toward other targets depend mostly on peoples knowledge and beliefsOften peoples feelings beliefs and past actions toward a target are reasonably consistent with one anotherOnes attitude toward many individuals and social groups may similarly include a mix of positive and negative feelings and beliefsAmbivalent attitudes evaluations of targets that include both positive and negative elements o Many people dont like attitudinal ambivalencethe conflict among the elements is experiences as unpleasant A key implication of ambivalence is for the consistency of behaviourAmbivalent 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 type of element is dominant will drive behaviourIn contrast attitudes that are low in ambivalence all positive or all negative elements will not produce such responses Explicit vs Implicit AttitudesExplicit attitudes evaluations that people can report consciously have been the focus of the cast majority of social psych research on attitudes Implicit attitudes an individuals automatic evaluative response to a target which can occur without awareness o A spontaneous immediate goodbad response to the target that cannot be consciously controlled reflects how the individual evaluates the target at a conscious levelBertram Gawronski implicit attitudes reflect lowlevel associations between objects and evaluations whereas explicit attitudes reflect higherlevel evaluations that are based on rational beliefs about the object and its featuresImplicit attitudes conform to explicit attitudes our spontaneous automatic response to a target typically parallels our conscious evaluation of the targetInconsistency between explicit and implicit attitudes can occurImplicit attitudes are automatic and subconscious so people may not realize that their implicit and explicit attitudes toward a target differ Perceptions of Others AttitudesThere is a common structure to peoples perceptions of others attitudesTwo dimensions are most important liberal vs conservative and traditional vs novel radicalPerceptions of other peoples attitudes tent to by guided by consideration of the extent to which the others are liberal or conservative and traditional or innovative Why Do We Evaluate Assessing ObjectsHumans benefit from quick assessments of the positive or negative implication of objects that they encounter in the environmentObjectappraisal function a function of attitudes in which attitudes provide rapid evaluative judgements of targets facilitating approach or avoidanceo The basic function of attitudes and probably the principal reason why humans have evolved to form attitudes Expressing valuesValues broad abstract standards or goods that people consider to be important guiding principles in their life freedomPeoples values are related to their attitudes toward specific issuesAttitudes serve at least in part symbolic functions for the holderssymbolizing support for and commitment to particular religions values or groupsThey have valueexpressive function a function of attitudes in which attitudes communicate individuals identity and valuesallows people to convey an identity group that connects them to some groups and makes them distinct from others Testing the Functions of Attitudes The main reason for lack of research is the perceived difficulty is measuring attitude functions how can an investigator determine whether a particular attitude fulfils an objectappraisal or a valueexpressive functionResearchers have developed several ways of investigating the functions fulfilled by attitudesGregory Maio the motivations underlying objectappraisal attitudes differ from those underlying valueexpressive attitudes Sharon shavitt attitudes toward a particular object may fulfil the same function for almost everyoneWhen participants described an objectappraisal attitude they were likely to mention positive or negative features of the object in contrast when participants described a valueexpressive attitude they were more likely to mention their values their identity and what the object communicated to others o Study advertisements were more effective when they were consistent with the function fulfilled by the attitude objectappraisal attitudes responded to information about rewards whereas valueexpressive attitudes responded to information about image Measuring AttitudesSelfRepost Measures of Attitudes Most attitude measurement techniques are selfreport in natureLikerttype scales an attitude measurement technique that requires respondents to indicate the extent of their agreement or disagreement with several statements on an issue o The most used technique for the past 70 years evolved by Rensis LIkert o Respondents read a number of statements each of which expresses a clear position pro or con on an issue or a clear attitude favourable or unfavourable toward a target respondents are asked to indicate their agreement or disagreement with each item o Participants total scores across all items would represent their attitude score o Advantages relatively easy for researchers to construct clear and simple for respondents and have reliable scoresSemantic differential scales technique that requires respondents to rate a target on several evaluative dimensionso The taet of the attitude is written at the top of the page and several rating scare are presented below the target o The opposing adjectives appear at each end of a 5point scale to indicate their evaluationo Attitudes are calculated by summing their ratings across all the evaluative dimensions with responses for each scored so that high scores always reflect the same direction of attitude o Advantages easy to construct and straightforward to complete assesses evaluations very directly because participants rate the attitude object on dimensions that are explicitly evaluativeOpinion Surveys designed to assess public opinion about an issue event or group sometimes the researcher wants to be able to generalize the findings to a larger population and in which case the sample must be representative of that population o Most opinion surveys contain just one or two items on a particular issue and responses are often limited to yes or no o Very useful in gathering info about public opinion by social psychs rarely use themProblems with selfreport measures these rest on at least 2 assumptions 1 people know what their attitudes are 2 they will report those attitudes honestlyo These assumptions are doubtful if researchers are interested in implicit attitudes than they cannot use selfreport o By definition people dont have direct access to their implicit attitudeso People may lie a little to make themselves look bettersocially desirable responding o They typically dont yield clear and easy ways to measure the ambivalence of a persons attitude to do this some researchers have asked them to rate the targets on both positive and negative scales separately Nonverbal Measures of AttitudesDont rely on participants ability or willingness to report their attitudes provide better assessments of peoples unconscious affective responses to objects than selfreportsNegative side measurements are often difficult to obtain and may not be as sensitive for assessing explicit attitudes Behavioural measures used participants overt behaviour to infer their attitudes toward an object o Advantage usually unobtrusive measures reduce problems of self presentation and social desirability o Often difficult to design Physiological measures exposure to negative or disliked objects increases arousal as measure by these symptoms heart rate and blood pressureo Arousal of a threat would prepare the individual for possible fight or flight o Although heart rate and blood pressure may sometimes indicate the intensity of peoples feelings about a targeto Arousal symptoms are poor at distinguishing between positive and negative evaluations o Facial electromyography facial EMG a procedure for measuring muscle contractions in the face that may be sensitive to positive vs negative responses to a stimulus
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