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Chapter 7

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McGill University
PSYC 215
John Lydon

Chapter 7 -Attitudes can influence behavior and behavior can influence attitudes. Attitudes on behavior is weaker than most suspect, and behavior on attitudes is stronger. The Three Components of Attitude Attitude: And evaluation of an object in a positive or negative fashion that includes the three elements of effect (how much people like or dislike and object), cognition (thoughts that typically reinforce a person's feelings. Include knowledge, beliefs, associated memories and images about an object) and behavior. -Our attitudes activate particular areas of the motor cortex that support specific actions. Measuring Attitudes Likert Scale: A numerical scale used to assess people's attitudes; it includes a set of possible answers with labeled anchors on each extreme. -This scale can lack the ability to differentiate between the strengths of people's attitudes, so a method to help this is to measure the accessibility of the attitude. This is known as Response Latency: The time it takes an individual to respond to a stimulus, such as an attitude question. Another way is to determine the centrality of the attitude. Researchers do this by measuring a variety of attitudes within a domain and calculating how strongly each attitude is linked to the others. Investigators often use Implicit Attitude Measures: indirect measures of attitudes that do not involve self-report. Implicit measure like this allow researchers to tap into automatic attitudes. Researchers sometimes also use non-verbal measures of attitudes, like people smiling, or physiological indicators like heartbeat. Predicting Behavior From Attitude -We assume attitude consistently correlates with behavior based on our observations. Although, people have many reasons for failing to act on their attitudes. So when are attitudes predictive of behavior and when are they not? Attitudes Sometimes Conflict with Other Powerful Determinants of Behavior -Like dieting: attitude and behavior are often different. This is true about other attitudes...they all compete with other determinants of behavior. Behaviors are sometimes avoided due to the scene they may cause. Attitudes are Sometimes Inconsistent -They can conflict -There can be a rift between the affective component (what we feel) and the cognitive component (what we think). This means attitude cannot predict behavior well. Introspection about the Reasons for Our Attitudes -When we introspect on reasons we focus on the things that are easy to identify. Ex: Thinking about why we like someone can lead to confusion about what our true feelings really are. -Introspection is not always harmful, though. -When the basis of our attitudes is largely cognitive, the search for reasons is more likely to yield the real reasons, and introspection is unlikely to diminish the relationship between attitude and behavior. This is usually occurs when the basis of our attitude is largely affective. Attitudes Are Sometimes Based on Secondhand Information -Attitudes from direct (firsthand) experience predict behavior better than secondhand. The Mismatch Between General Attitudes and Specific Targets -The attitude behavior that is typically assessed is directed towards more specific attitudes. -Consistency between attitude and behavior is higher when the attitude and behavior are at the same level of specificity. -What most people usually think of as attitudes toward different classes of people etc. are often expressions of attitudes toward a prototype of a given category.' "Automatic" Behavior That Bypasses Conscious Attitudes -Automatic behavior that bypasses our conscious attitudes can conflict with those attitudes without our knowing it. Predicting Attitudes From Behavior -Over time, outward behavior can give way to inner conviction. -Why does our behavior so powerfully influence our attitudes? Balance Theory Balance Theory: A theory holding that people try to maintain balance among their beliefs, cognitions, and sentiments. -Ex: If someone you know likes b-ball, you're likely to assumer that their best friend does too Cognitive Distance Theory -Most influential consistency theory. -Cognitive Distance Theory: A theory that maintains that inconsistencies among a person's thought, sentiments, and actions create an aversive emotional state (dissonance) that leads to efforts to restore consistency. Decisions and Dissonance -All hard decisions arouse some dissonance. This leads to people rationalizing their decisions. Effort Justification -People's tendency to reduce dissonance by justifying the time, effort, or money they have devoted to something that has turned out to be unpleasant or disappointing. Induced Compliance and Attitude Change Induced (forced) compliance: Subtly compelling individuals to behave in a manner that is inconsistent with their beliefs, attitudes, or values, in order to elicit dissonance-and therefore a change in their original attitudes or values. -This compels people to change their original behaviors. -To influence someone else's attitudes, use the smallest amount of coercion or incentive to do so. If they're too big, people will justify their behavior by the inducements and they will not need to rationalize their behavior by coming to believe in the broader purpose or philosophy behind it. If the inducement is barely sufficient, though, then people's need to rationalize will tend to produce a deep- seated attitude change in behavior. Induced Compliance and Extinguishing Undesired Behavior -Mild vs severe punishments -The threat of severe punishment will keep children from doing something you don't want them to do; but they will still, later on, want to do it. The threat of mild punishment can bring about psychological change, such that they will no longer be tempted to do what you don't want them to do When Does Inconsistency Produce Dissonance -Festinger says that people experience dissonance when there is an inconsistency, but what is considered an inconsistency? -Aronson
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