PSYC215 Chapter 4 Notes
Attitude: A Favourable or unfavourable evaluative reaction toward something or someone, exhibited in
one’s beliefs, feelings, or intended behaviour.
Role: A set of norms that define how people in a given social position ought to behave.
Gender Role: A set of behaviour expectations (norms) for males and females.
Foot-In-The-Door Phenomenon: The tendency for people who have first agreed to a small request to
comply later with a larger request.
Low-Ball Technique: A tactic for getting people to agree to something. People who agree to an initial
request will often still comply when the requester up the ante. People who receive only the costly
request are less likely to comply with it.
Cognitive Dissonance: Tension that arises when one is simultaneously aware of two inconsistent
cognitions. For example, dissonance may occur when we realize that we have, with little justification,
acted contrary to our attitudes or made a decision favouring one alternative despite reasons favouring
Insufficient Justification Effect: Reduction of dissonance by internally justifying one’s behaviour when
external justification is “insufficient”.
Self-perception Theory: The theory that when unsure of our attitudes, we infer them much as would
someone observing us – by looking at our behaviour and the circumstances under which it occurs.
Overjustification Effect: The result of bribing people to do what they already like doing; they may then
see their action as externally controlled rather than intrinsically appealing.
Self-affirmation Theory: A theory that people often experience self-image threat after engaging in an
undesirable behaviour, they compensate for this threat by affirming another aspect of the self. Threaten
people’s self-concept in one domain, and they will compensate either by refocusing or by doing good
deeds in some other domain.
Every year, the tobacco industry kills over 2 million customers with over half a billion people
died from smoking tobacco based on a 1994 World Health Organization report
When people question someone’s attitude, they refer to beliefs and feelings related to a person
or event and the resulting behaviour. Taken together, favourable or unfavourable evaluative
reactions – whether exhibited in beliefs, feelings, or inclinations to act – define a person’s
When we have to respond quickly to something, how we feel about it can guide how we react.
ABCs of attitudes: Affect (feelings), Behaviour (intention), and Cognition (thoughts).
The prevailing assumption is that our private beliefs and feelings determine our public
behaviour, so if we want to alter the way people act; we need to change their hearts and minds.
Leon Festinger concluded that evidence did not show that changing attitudes changes
behaviour. Festinger believed that attitude-behaviour relation works the other way around, with
our behaviour as the horse and our attitudes as the cart.
Allan Wicker concluded that people’s expressed attitudes hardly predicted their varying
behaviours. For example, student attitudes toward cheating bore little relation to the likelihood
of their actually cheating. Daniel Batson showed “Moral hypocrisy” (appearing moral without being so) as an example of
the disjuncture between attitudes and action by having individuals choose from a positive task
with reward or dull task with nothing. At the end of the day, when morality and greed were put
on a collision course, greed won.
What controls behaviour is external social influences, such as other’s behaviour and
expectations, and played down internal factors, such as attitudes and personality.
Social psychologists today measure facial muscle responses to statements and to wire people to
a fake lie detector in order to subtly assess attitudes. IAT (Implicit Association Test) uses
reaction times to measure how quickly people associate concepts.
The findings define a principle of aggregation: The effects of an attitude on behaviour become
more apparent when we look at a person’s aggregate or average behaviour rather than at
When the measured attitude is general, we should not expect a close correspondence between
words and actions. In 26 out of 27 studies by Icek Ajzen and Martin Fishbein, attitudes did not
predict behaviour, but attitudes did predict behaviour in all 26 studies they could find in which
the measured attitude was directly pertinent to the situation.
Icek Ajzen, working with Martin Fishbein, has shown that one’s (a) attitudes, (b) perceived social
norms, and (c) feelings of control together determine one’s intentions, which guide behaviours.
Specific, relevant attitudes do predict behaviour; attitudes towards condoms strongly predict
condom use and attitudes toward recycling (but not general attitudes toward environmental
issues) predict participation in recycling.
Two conditions which attitudes will predict behaviour: (1) When we minimize other influences
on our attitude statements and our behaviour, and (2) when the attitude is specifically relevant
to the observed behaviour. Third condition is when an attitude predicts behaviour better when
it is potent.
People who take a few moments to review their past behaviour express attitudes that better
predict their future behaviour. Our attitudes guide our behaviour if we think about them.
Self-conscious people are usually in touch with their attitudes. Another way to induce people to
focus on their inner convictions is to make them self-conscious like performing in front of a
When attitudes arise from experience, they are far more likely to endure and to guide actions.
Our attitudes predict our actions if:
o Other influences are minimized