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Midterm Textbook Readings.docx
Midterm Textbook Readings.docx

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Western University
Psychology 3723F/G
Olson James

Psych 3723 Textbook Readings Chapter 1 - What are attitudes and how are they measured? • Attitudes involves the expression of an evaluative judgment about an object • Reporting an attitude involves making a decision about liking versus disliking or favoring vs disfavoring an issue, object or person • Attitude when conceptualized as an evaluative judgment, can vary in two important ways: o Valence – direction o Strength o Differences in these two play a role in understanding the ways in which attitudes influence how we process information and how we behave • Basically anything that can be evaluated along a dimension of favorability can be conceptualized as an attitude History of Attitude Research • Gordon Allport – one of the founders of attitude research • Thurstone and Likert developed various ways for measuring attitudes o Notably the equal appearing interval and likert scale approaches o Influential because it demonstrated that attitudes can be quantifiably measured • What happened in WWII led to much research by social psychologist • Theodore Adorno studied what would lead individual to develop authoritarian attitudes • Success of Nazi propaganda made allied powers realize the importance of understanding how to mobilize and change public opinion • Carl Hovland researched methods for making the US war propaganda more effective at sustaining public morale • Hovland Janis and Kelley researched attitude change, examining when and how attitudes are most likely to change o Convergent research – started with a particular phenomenon that needed explanation • Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance o Refers to state of imbalance among beliefs o Suggests that holding inconsistent beliefs produces a negative feeling that we are motivated to reduce o A person with two inconsistent attitudes would be motivated to change one of these attitudes to regain a state of consonance • Study of attitude functions o Smith and Katz postulated that attitudes can serve a number of functions or needs of an individual o Most important is object appraisal function – capacity of attitudes to make easier and faster judgments Social cognition 1 • Understanding how individuals elaborate on and process information • Dominant framework of social psych • Theory of reasoned action – predict deliberate and thoughtful behavior from attitudes • Study of relation between attitudes and behavior gained prominence in the 9-s when Alan Wicker received studies examining the relationship and concluded that attitudes were a relatively poor predictor of behavior • Many scientists responded by studying when and how attitudes can predict behavior • In the last 30 years, research has found that attitudes do predict behavior in some conditions better than others New wave of attitude research • Attitude researchers have traditionally noted that attitudes are based on affective and behavioral information • The Elaboration Likelihood Model and Heuristic-Systematic Model are both dual process models that specify two different routes persuasion o ELM = central and peripheral route  Central = individual to pay close attention to the content of a persuasive appeal  Peripheral = requires less thought o HSM = systematic processing required individuals to carefully scrutinize the contents of a persuasive appeal  Requires les effort Ongoing developments • Some attitudes are held in great strength, other are not • Strong attitudes differ from weak in many ways, they are more: o Persistent over time o Resistant to change o Likely to influence info processing o Likely to predict behavior Beyond social psychology • Research assessing how attitudes predict behaviour have important applied implications • Health psychologists have adopted the theory of reasoned action/ planned behavior to persuade people to engage in a healthier life style How are attitudes measured • Not directly observable • Explicit or implicit o Explicit – measure directly asking respondents to indicate their attitude o Implicit – assess attitudes without directly asking for a verbal report • Direct (explicit) measures 2 o Majority of attitudes can be conceptualized as direct o Usually self report questionnaire o Equal appearing interval  Statements relevant to attitude are measured  Judges asked to order these statements along a scale of many intervals  Then the belief statements are given to the individuals whose attitudes are to be expressed, they indicate the items they agree with o Likert – brief statements written to indicate favorable or unfavorable attitude; indicate degree of agreement or disagreement o Semantic differential approach  Participants given set of bipolar adjective scales each of which is separated into a number of categories, participants asked to evaluate the attitude by indicating the response that best represents their opinion o Limitations:  Sometimes individuals might not be aware of their underlying attitude toward an object  Subtle difference in item presentation can influence responses to direct measures of attitude  Relative vs absolute direct measures can elicit different types of responses  Impression management – misrepresenting one’s responses s that the respondent can present themselves in a favorable way • Indirect (implicit) measures o Evaluative priming measure – when people are primed to a negative thing first they more quickly react to another negative and vice versa o Implicit association test – may or may not be entirely unconscious  Influence of extrapersonal associations can be removed by making the tasks of the IAT more personal  Single category IAT to avoid problems in comparing across different categories o GSR – assumption that activity in the sweat glands would increase skin conductance, so a higher score would reflect greater stress or aversion  Research found that the GSR could be elicited by positive and negative responses, so it was not sensitive to valence  Same problem occurred with pupillary distinction o EMG – assesses contraction of core facial muscles  When participants heard an appeal that supported their attitude, facial muscles exhibited happiness, opposite for one against their attitude 3  Practical limitations and technological advances of other measures have made this uncommon o ERP – event related potentials have shown some promise o fMRI – help understand where attitudinal responses are occurring in the brain Issues Relevant to the measurement of attitudes • Sound measure must be reliable and valid • Reliability – degree to which test scores are free from errors in measurement o Internal consistency – whether the individual items are assessing the same psychological construct  Items that assess the same construct should be positively correlated o Test-retest reliability – refers to consistency in scores across time  Sound attitude measure should produce similar scores across repeated testing o Explicit measures have shown to exhibit high reliability  Ex. Semantic differential scales using evaluative dimensions of good- bad, positive-negative and favorable-unfavorable exhibit high internal consistency  Generally speaking, explicit measures with more items are more reliable as long as the items are somewhat similar  Single-item semantic differential measures possess high test-retest reliability o Less research has been conducted on assessing reliability of implicit measures of attitudes  Found that they possess reasonably high internal consistency and test-retest correlations • Validity – extent that it assess the construct it is designed to measure o Ex. Testing validity of a new measure of attitudes toward capital punishment would require demonstrating that the new measure is related to other measures of it (convergent validity), unrelated to measures of other constructs irrelevant to it (discriminant validity) and predictive of future behaviors (predictive validity) o Explicit measures are often valid o Less evidence for validity of implicit measures 2 – three witches of attitudes 1 – Attitude content • So far, Attitudes can be thought of as global evaluations (like-dislike) of an object • The most influential model of attitude has been the multicomponent model o Attitudes are summary evaluations of an object that have: cognitive, affective and behavioral components (CAB) 4 CAB • Cognitive = refers to the beliefs, thoughts and attributes we associate with an object o In many cases, a person’s attitude might be primarily based on the positive and negative attributes they associate with an object  Ex. When one author recently bought a new car he devoted considerable attention to different car safety records, gas mileage and repair costs • Here attitudes were formed through consideration of positive and negative characteristics of each car  Ex. A individual’s favorable attitude toward a particular politician might be based on the belief that the politician is charismatic, intelligent and has economic policies that promote social equality • Affective – feelings or emotions linked to an attitude object o Influence in a number of ways o Primary way is through feelings that are aroused in response to an attitude object o Many people indicate that spiders make them scared – this negative affective response is likely to cause a negative attitude to ward spiders • Behavioral – past behaviors or experiences regarding an attitude object o People might guess that they must have a negative attitude toward factory farming if they remember having signed a petition against unethical treatment of animals o The idea that people might infer their attitudes from previous actions was best articulated by Daryl Bem  Self-perception theory – individuals do not always have access to their opinions about different objects and sometimes infer their attitudes by thinking about how they have behaved with respect to the attitude object in the past Are the CAB components really different? • Experiment: Breckler had participants report their cognitive, affective and behavioral responses about snakes o While in the presence of real snake, participants indicated whether: 5  Snakes are kind and cruel (cognition)  Snakes make them feel anxious and happy (affect)  They like to handle snakes (behavioral) o Breckler used the content of participant’s responses to compute a score for each component o He found that these CAB scores were only moderately correlated with each other – thus the components were empirically distinct • This does not mean that they are completely independent of each other • Not always true that they will have the same evaluative implications o Eg. Blood donations – may think it’s a good thing but you are fearful of it and it hurt you in the past Semantic differential measures of the CAB components • Semantic differential approach to measuring attitudinal components • Researchers often use semantic differential scales such as positive-negative and good-bad to measure overall attitudes • This framework can be used to measure cognitive and affective components of attitude • Most often used to assess cognition and affect have either developed generic ones or use the same to assess both cognitive and affective responses • Generic approach – semantic differential measures of the cognitive and affective components of attitude o Many dimensions (useful-useless, wise-foolish for cognitive and love-hateful, delighted-sad etc. for affective) o Reliable and valid and can be used across different attitude objects  These word pairs are more specific than he broad, evaluative semantic dimensions (good-bad, like-dislike) to measure overall attitudes • In contrast to the generic approach, the same semantic differential scales are used to assess both cognition and affect for a particular object o But frame the scales differently o Eg. Assessing for blood donation – measured cognitions by having participants respond to the stem “blood donation is” on dimensions – good- bad, wise-foolish, useless-useful and important. Affective responses were measured by “blood donation makes me feel” on the same scales • Many advantages to semantic differential approaches to measuring attitudinal components o Simple to administer and complete o When they use the same dimensions across different attitude objects that can be used to compare favorability of responses across attitude objects • Problems with this measure o Attentive reader will have noticed that the semantic differential measures mentioned only the cognitive and affective components o Diffuse nature of behavior has made it difficult for researchers to imagine valid semantic differential scales for this component 6 Open-ended measures of the CAB components • Second type of measure uses open ended questions to measure all three attitudinal components • Participants are asked to write down the thoughts, feelings and behavioral experiences they associate with an attitude object • Cognition measures asks participants to list the characteristics, attributes and values they associate with the attitude object • Affect measure asks participants to list the feelings and emotions they associate with the attitude object • Behavior measure asks participants to list relevant past experiences they have had with the attitude object • Ex. Attitude object is George Bush: o Participant might indicate this person elicits two affective responses: anger and disgust o Participants will then rate how positive or genitive each emotion is in relation to the attitude object o Might indicate that angers = -1 and disgust = -2 o We can compute a score that the average of these valence = -1.5 • Advantages: o Enables researchers to devise a measure of the behavioral component, allowing for a more comprehensive test of the multicomponent model of attitude o Respondents are asked to indicate cognitive, affective and behavioral responses that are the most personally salient and relevant, permitting them to be unrestrained from the dimension provided by “close-ended” response formats • Problems o Participants may find it hard to articulate the thoughts, feelings and past experiences they associate with a particular attitude object  They might not provide any responses for one or more components o Might require more time and effort o If researchers want to measure all three for many attitude objects, this might not be a feasible approach Do the CAB components predict attitudes? • For the most part, this research has concentrated on how cognitive and affective info predict attitudes, in the absence of behavioral information o Because semantic differential measures of the components have been limited to assessments of cognitive and affective components • Esses found that attitudes towards strongly disliked groups were best predicted by cognitive info in the form of symbolic beliefs (beliefs that typical group members violate or promote cherished values), whereas attitudes toward like groups were best predicted by affective emotion (feelings or emotions elicited by members of the target group) • Eagly found that affect contributed significantly to the prediction of some attitudes, but beliefs were the most important predictor in most instances 7 • Breckler explored role of cognition and affect in predicting attitudes o Using many different assessment strategies o Found that both cognitive and affective info predicted attitudes o Found the relative importance of each class of info, to some extent, a function of the stimulus object under examination  Eg. Affect best predicted attitudes towards blood donation, whereas cognitive info best predicted attitudes toward abortion • Evaluative implications of cognitive and affective info was positively correlated o Maintaining positive beliefs about an attitude object is associated with positive affective responses about the object and negative about negative • Huskinson and Haddock found that people differ reliably in the extent to which they use the favorability of their beliefs and feelings to derive their overall attitudes o Some people base their attitudes predominantly on their affective responses whereas others do on their cognitive responses o Many people also had attitudes based equally on cognition and affect 2 – Attitude Structure • How positive and negative evaluations are organized within and among the cognitive, affective and behavioral components of attitudes • Typically assumed that positive beliefs, feelings and behaviors inhibit negative ones o One dimensional perspective • Opposed by a two dimensional view – suggests that one dimension reflects whether the attitude has few or many positive elements and the other dimension whether the attitude has few or many negative o If correct, people can possess any combination of positivity or negativity in their attitudes • Attitudes might occasionally contain many positive and many negative elements = attitudinal ambivalence o Two dimensional perspective allows for this to occur, 1D does not 8 • fig. o top is the one dimensional view of attitudes  person x is slightly negative  single axis does not permit one to mark person x as being both negative and positive o Bottom panel – two dimensional view of attitudes  One axis representing variability in negative evaluation  Other axis depicting variability in positive evaluations  A person can possess high amounts of negative and positive • Which is better? o Ex. If someone was reporting their attitude toward rhubarb on a nine point scale from extremely unfavorable to favorable with 5 being neither, the person could indicate give because it is a compromise between positive and negative elements in their attitude OR because they have no positive or negative elements whatsoever  Failure to distinguish between these two reasons  Important to distinguish to assess attitudinal ambivalence o Best known outcome = response polarization  People who are highly ambivalent toward an object are more strongly influenced by features of their environment that make salient the object’s positive or negative attributes • So they will be more favorable when the positive elements are salient and less so when the negative are o In contrast, non ambivalent people are less strongly influenced by the acute salience of positive or negative attributes • Research highlight 2.2 9 o Attitudinal ambivalence as an important property to explain why people sometimes react in polarized ways to controversial groups or issues o Tara MacDonald and Mark Zanna examined the consequences of students’ ambivalence toward feminists  Some both admired and disliked them • Cognitive-affective ambivalence - conflict between how the individuals think and how they feel • When people possess this ambivalence, making them mindful of either the cognitive or affective elements of their attitudes causes their behavior to reflect the salient elements • Ambivalent people might appear to strongly favor a person who is a target of their ambivalence (ie. feminist) in some situations (eg. After a positive event) but strongly disfavor them in other situations (after a negative event) • Thus behavior that may seem quizzical and contradictory on the surface may be explicable by considering the extent to which there is ambivalence underlying the attitude Types of ambivalence • Potential ambivalence - state of conflict that exists when people simultaneously possesses positive and negative evaluations of an object o Can be measured by asking people to indicate positive and negative elements of their attitude (ask them to list beliefs, emotions and behaviors)  Might reveal many positive and negative beliefs (cognitive ambivalence)  Positive and negative feelings (affective ambivalence)  Positive and negative behavioral experiences (behavioral ambivalence) o Labeled as potential because it may or may not be consciously perceived by the individual • Felt ambivalence – actual feeling of tension that people experience when they are consciously thinking about the attitude object o Assessed by asking people to rate the extent to which they feelings are conflicted, mixed and indecisive • Potential and felt ambivalence don’t correlate highly, suggesting that they tend to measure somewhat different things • Ambivalent and non-ambivalent attitudes tend to cause a greater scrutiny of info that can help to resolve the ambivalence • Ambivalent attitudes are less likely to predict behavior than non-ambivalent o May occur because of ways in which ambivalence affects decision-making processes 3 – Attitude Functions • Smith suggested that attitudes serve three primary functions: o Object appraisal 10  Ability of attitudes to summarize the positive and negative attributes of objects in our social world  Ex. Can help people to approach things beneficial to them and avoid things that are harmful o Social adjustment  Fulfilled by attitudes that help us to identify with people whom we like and dissociate from those we dislike  Ex. People may buy a certain soft drink because it’s endorsed by our favorite singer o Externalization  Fulfilled by attitudes that defend the self against internal conflict  Ex. Bad golfers might develop an intense dislike for the game because their poor performance threatens their self-esteem • Daniel Katz proposed four attitude functions, some related to Smith: o Knowledge  Ability of attitudes to organize info about attitude objects o Utility  Exists in attitudes that maximize rewards and minimize punishments from attitude objects  These are similar to smith’s object-appraisal o Ego –defense  Exists in attitudes that serve to protect an individual’s self esteem  Similar to Smith’s externalization of function o value-expression  Attitude may express an individual’s self-concept and central values  Ex. A person might cycle to work because she values health and wishes to preserve the environment • Herek developed the Attitudes Functions Inventory (AFI) – self report measure asking participants to rate extent to which their attitude reflects various concerns o Simple method for determining the primary function of an individual’s attitude toward an object • Shavitt tested whether consumer products served single or multiple functions o Found that across individuals, coffee and air conditioners tended to serve a utilitarian function o People’s attitudes toward particular brands of these products were most likely to be changed by utilitarian arguments (eg. Quality) o In contrast, Shavitt found that objects like watches and sunglasses could fulfill different functions  One person might wear a brand of sunglasses because of the quality of the brand (eg. Blocking UV rays)  whereas another person might wear the same brand because of social prestige associated with the brand • In recent years, research on attitude functions has focused on particular functions served by attitudes o There is evidence indicating that the object-appraisal function is highly important because attitudes can simplify interactions with the environment 11  Russell Fazio found that highly accessible attitudes increase the ease with which people make attitude relevant judgments and decrease physiological arousal during these judgments  These findings support the conclusion that the object-appraisal function is more strongly served by attitudes that are spontaneously activated from memory than those that aren’t • Limitations in research on attitude functions: o Current approaches to measure attitude functions  Hereks AFI relies on people’s ability to know the functions of their own attitudes, but evidence indicates that people are sometimes poor at knowing this • Particularly evident for ego-defensive attitudes which help defend the ego because the person is unaware that the attitude is defending the self-concept o As soon as you know the attitude is helping you feel better about yourself it may no longer help you feel better o Ambiguity in the distinctions between different attitude functions  A person’s attitude toward partying the night before an exam might reflect the extent to which he or she values achievement = value- expressive  But at the same time, the person’s value of achievement itself reflects a utilitarian concern  Is the attitude value expressive or utilitarian? Linking attitude content, structure and function • Synergy among the CAB components should cause an individual to have a unidimensional rather than a bidimensional attitude o If an individual has positive cognitions, affective responses and past experiences they should also have a unidimensional positive attitude o Synergistic content influences the structure of the attitude • Link between attitude content and attitude function o Attitude toward a car that are based on the need to conserve fuel  Should be based on the beliefs about the extent to which the car obtains good fuel economy o Attitudes toward a style of clothing fulfill psychological need to enhance social relations, then these attitudes are based on beliefs about the extent to which the style is preferred among one’s friends o In both cases, attitudes that serve different functions will often differ in the content of the beliefs that support them • Strong links between structure and function witches o Maio has argued that the same attitude functions may operate at both unidimensional and bi structural levels, but to varying degrees  Object appraisal function should be served more strongly by unidimensional attitudes than bi ones because bi attitudes evoke more decision conflict 12 o It is possible that social norms make it occasionally desirable to have high ambivalence in an attitude, such as when it is controversial  These people may give the impression of being fair and knowledgeable  May also be inoffensive to others because they agree with everyone to some extent How stable and strong are attitudes? • Strong attitudes differ from weak in many ways o Krosnick and Petty argue there are four key manifestations of strong attitudes:  More persistent – more temporally stable over time  More resistant to change – when faced with persuasive appeal they are less likely to change  More likely to influence information processing – people devote greater attention to info that is relevant to strong vs weak attitudes  More likely to guide behavior – more likely to act upon strong vs weak Chapter 3 – influence of attitudes on information processing and behavior The influence of attitudes on information processing • Information processing is used to refer to how our mind deals with the information we encounter in our social world The influence of attitudes on attention • The idea that attitudes influence the info we see and hear is one of the oldest assumptions in attitude study • Gordon Allport wrote that our attitudes “determine for each individual will what he will see and hear, what he will think and what he will do, they are our methods for finding our way about in an ambiguous universe" • Festinger believed that after a decision is reached, the need to avoid cognitive dissonance leads us to search for information in a selective way o Eg. Buying a car after searching for detailed info, even after making a decision noticing the info that confirms our choice and avoid the info that is not aligned with our decision • Selective attention o Freedman and Sears argued that some of the early research showed that people are more likely to encounter info that supports their attitudes o No evidence to suggest that they sought out attitude congruent info o Subsequent studies showed that individuals do pay more attention to info that supports their attitudes, but the magnitude depends on a number of factors o Whether the invdividual’s attitude is unipolar or bipolar influences selective attention 13 o When our attitudes are firmly at one end of a single dimension, we tend to seek information that affirms our position  Does not mean that we fail to notice info that disconfirms our attitude • Judd and Kulik tested if when individuals have unipolar attitudes, extreme congruent and incongruent statements would be more likely to be noticed and remembered compared to less extreme congruent and incongruent statements o Results revealed that extreme statements were more likely to be noticed and recalled than less extreme • When people feel highly ambivalent toward an issue they will examine relevant info more carefully than do people who have the same position but are relatively non- ambivalent o Presumably this careful scrutiny makes people more able to detect new info to support their attitude and help decrease their ambivalence, similar to dissonance reduction o There is evidence that ambivalence elicits less attention to the content of a message when the message challenges the recipient’s attitude • Holbrook found that individuals who considered the topics important were more likely to seek out info than individuals who attached less importance to these • Attitude accessibility also influences selective exposure o Our visual attention is automatically drawn to objects that we have highly accessible attitudes o Participants do not need to be actively searching for these ob
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