PSYC 215 Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Elaboration Likelihood Model, Bennington College, Richard Petty

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Published on 22 Apr 2013
School
McGill University
Department
Psychology
Course
PSYC 215
Professor
Bona Kim PSYC215 Chapter Summary
CHAPTER 8 - Persuasion (pgs. 273-305)
FUNCTIONS OF ATTITUDES
- Attitudes guide behavior. They also serve 4 other functions:
o 1. Utilitarian function: signaling rewards and punishments
o 2. Ego-Defensive function: protecting people from undesirable beliefs and emotions
o 3. Value-Expressive function: reflecting values that people want others, especially their
reference groups to acknowledge
o 4. Knowledge function: organizing how people construe the social world and guiding
how people attend to, store and retrieve information
The Utilitarian Function of Attitudes
- utilitarian function: alert us to rewarding objects we should approach and to costly or
punishing objects we should avoid
o often activated by our current goals and trigger actions that help us pursue our goals
o Ex: if you have the goal is to get a good grade on your psychology exam, then you
attitudes toward objects relevant to achieving this goal should become more positive
o this change can occur automatically, even if you do not consciously decide to evaluate
the library positively
- when your attitudes toward goal-relevant objects are positive, you are more likely to engage in
goal-relevant behavior
- attitudes make us evaluatively ready to achieve the goals that matter to us
- our food preferences also illustrate the utilitarian function of attitudes
o our dietary likes and dislikes help us eat foods that are beneficial to survival and avoid
foods that are potentially dangerous
o preference for sweet foods helps us identify foods of nutritional value, such as foods
that provide vitamin C which humans do not synthesize in the body
o our distaste for bitter foods help us avoid the toxins that tend in nature to taste bitter
o women are particularly sensitive to bitter tastes and pungent smells during the first
trimester of pregnancy. Their experience of “morning sickness” prevents them from
eating these foods and thus protects the fetus from being exposed to dangerous toxins
- the idea that attitudes serve utilitarian functions has helped shed light on why humans prefer
certain natural settings in different parts of the world
o evolutionary psychologists have reasoned that people prefer landscapes that have
water, lush trees and bushes, semi-open space, ground cover, and distant views to the
horizon
o these kinds of environments offered our ancestors reliable sources of water,
opportunities for hunting animals and gathering food, shelter and the means to detect
and hide from predators
o we have positive attitudes toward these kinds of environments today because of the
evolutionary advantages these attitudes conferred
- advertisers use the utilitarian function of attitudes
o researchers have shown that attitudes toward fairly neutral objects can be modified by
pairing that object with a stimulus that generates a strong positive/negative reaction
ads that use animals, babies or sexually alluring young women and men are
more likely to sell products than those that use less intrinsically rewarding
objects such as cartoons or historical figures
The Ego-Defensive Function of Attitudes
- ego-defensive function: protecting us from unpleasant facts or emotions
- we develop certain attitudes to maintain cherished beliefs about ourselves or our world
- one way we protect our valued beliefs is addressed in terror management theory
o our fear of dying leads us to adopt or cling to attitudes that reflect cultural worldviews
out of a belief that if we so, part of us will survive death
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Bona Kim PSYC215 Chapter Summary
o research has shown that when mortality is somehow made salient, people tend to
exhibit more positive evaluations of their own group vs. other groups, greater
patriotism, increased religious conviction, greater conformity to cultural standards,
and a greater inclination to punish moral transgressors
- John Jost et al. argued that political conservatism is a form of motivated or ego-defensive
cognition that helps people ward off certain anxieties
o Identify two core values to political conservatism
o 1. Resistance to change. Conservatives express greater doubts about any changes
o 2. Endorsement of equality. Conservatives are more willing to accept these as
inequalities
o these core values are attempts to manage fear and uncertainty
o conservatives
consistently show higher levels of fear than others
they judge the world to be a more dangerous place
react more quickly to danger-related words
even more prone to nightmares
show less interest in new technological innovations, unfamiliar music,
changes in job requirements,
o to ward off fear and uncertainty, conservatives gravitate to attitudes and beliefs that
envision a structured and orderly world, and this behavior gives rise to their core
values - resistance to change and tolerance of inequality
The Value-Expressive Function of Attitudes
- value-expressive function: attitudes help us express our most cherished values, usually in
groups where these values can be supported or reinforced (more social dimension)
o reference groups: groups whose opinions matter to us and affect our opinions and
beliefs
- accounts for a variety of phenomena
o our commitment to the idea that people in our reference groups can even lead to
certain forms of bias: within political groups, people tend to overestimate the
similarity between their own attitudes and the attitudes of their leaders
- Theodore Newcomb study of student attitudes at Bennington College (an isolated,
experimental liberal arts college in Vermont)
o The school was left-leaning in its politics and run by liberal professors
o Studied all 600 students who attended this school - they were largely from upper-
class, Protestant, Republican families
o The experience at this school shaped the students’ political attitudes in a lasting way
o In a 4yr period, most students’ political conservatism changed dramatically and played
out in voting preferences
1st year students were much more likely to prefer the Republican candidate
4th year students, the Democratic or radical left-wing candidate
o 25 years later had a follow up study of 129 students
60% of these former students voted for the more liberal presidential
candidate
the changes these women underwent during college stayed with them
throughout their lives
The Knowledge Function of Attitudes
- knowledge function: attitudes help organize our understanding of the world
o guide what we attend to and remember
o make us more efficient, and sometimes more biased, perceivers of the complex social
situations we experience
o typically, we pay attention to and recall information that is consistent with our
preexisting attitudes
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Bona Kim PSYC215 Chapter Summary
- Lepper, Ross, Vallone, and keavney
o 3 groups watched a videotape of a debate between the 2 candidates during the 1980
campaign
o answered “Who won the debate?” Students’ preexisting attitudes led partisans to very
different conclusions about who won
o G1: Supporters of Jimmy Carter: thought he won
o G2: Ronald Reagan: thought he won
o G3: undecided voters: were split, although more said Reagan won
- Our attitudes lead us to seek out and selectively attend to information that bolsters our
preexisting attitudes
- Our preexisting attitudes about a person or group of individuals lead us to selectively recall
information that is consistent with those beliefs and attitudes
- We like physically attractive individuals and interpret their actions more favourably
- Prejudicial attitudes toward different outgroups lead us to interpret the actions of members of
those groups negatively, in ways that are consistent with our prejudices
PERSUASION AND ATTITUDE CHANGE
A Two-Process Approach to Persuasion
- two important theoretical models were developed in the 1980s to explain how people change
their attitudes in response to persuasive messages
o 1. Shelly Chaiken’s heuristic-systematic model of persuasion
o 2. Richard Petty and John Cacioppo’s elaboration likelihood model (ELM)
- both hypothesize that there are two routes to persuasion
o 1. Central systematic route
think carefully and deliberately about the msg’s content: attend to the logic
and cogency of the arguments contained in the message, the evidence and
principles that are cited, retrieve relevant experiences, memories, and images
all of this elaborate thinking can lead the individual to change an attitude or
not based on the arguments presented. Brings attitude change that is more
enduring, more resistant to persuasion. And more predictive of behaviour
More persuaded by high quality messages
3 factors that make the central route to persuasion more likely:
1. Personal relevance of the message (our goals, concerns and well-being)
2. When they have knowledge in the domain (the more we know, the more
likely we are to scrutinize the message with thoughtfulness)
3. When the message evokes a sense of personal responsibility
o 2. Peripheral heuristic route
attend to superficial aspects of the message that are tangential to its
substance - how long the message is or how expert the communicator seems
reliance on pretty simple communication heuristics to justify attitude change
might change the individual’s basic emotional reaction to the attitude object
that is the focus of the persuasive message
persuaded by source characteristics such as how many arguments there are
and whether the conclusions are explicit
3 factors that make the peripheral route to persuasion more likely when we:
1. Have little motivation, time
2. Interfere with our ability to attend to the message carefully
- 2 factors of determining which route is used:
o 1. Motivation to devote time and energy/how important is it to the person
when the message has personal consequences for us, we are more likely to go
through the central route and carefully work through the arguments
o 2. Ability to process the message in depth
when the message is clear and we have sufficient time, we are able to process
it deeply
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Document Summary

They also serve 4 other functions: 1. Utilitarian function: signaling rewards and punishments: 2. Ego-defensive function: protecting people from undesirable beliefs and emotions: 3. Value-expressive function: reflecting values that people want others, especially their reference groups to acknowledge: 4. Knowledge function: organizing how people construe the social world and guiding how people attend to, store and retrieve information. The ego-defensive function of attitudes ego-defensive function: protecting us from unpleasant facts or emotions. John jost et al. argued that political conservatism is a form of motivated or ego-defensive cognition that helps people ward off certain anxieties. Identify two core values to political conservatism: 1. Conservatives express greater doubts about any changes: 2. In a 4yr period, most students" political conservatism changed dramatically and played out in voting preferences. 1st year students were much more likely to prefer the republican candidate. 4th year students, the democratic or radical left-wing candidate: 25 years later had a follow up study of 129 students.

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