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Chapter 7

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYC 215
Professor
John Lydon
Semester
Fall

Description
Chapter 7 - Attitudes, Behavior, and Rationalization  Influence of attitudes on behavior is weaker than most people believe, and influence of behavior on attitudes is stronger  When people are made to behave in a particular way, their attitudes typically follow  3 Components of Attitudes  Attitude = an evaluation of an object along a positive-negative dimension  Involves:  Affect - how much people like or dislike an object  Cognitions - thoughts that typically reinforce a person's feelings; include knowledge and beliefs about object and the associated memories  Associated behaviors - ex. Affective evaluation of good is associated with approaching the "good" object; attitudes are associated with intentions and actions  Measuring Attitudes  Usually use attitude questionnaires  Likert scale = a numerical scale; includes a set of possible answers with labeled anchors on each extreme  Ex. 1=never, 7=always  Sometimes fail to differentiate people with stronger or weaker attitudes  To solve Likert scale problem, measure accessibility of attitude (how easily it can be brought to mind and used to guide behavior)  Response latency = the time it takes for individual to respond to attitude question  If latency is small, the attitude is strong and can be brought to mind faster  Can also determine centrality of attitude to person's belief system  Measure variety of attitudes within a domain and calculate how strongly each one is connected to the others  If attitude is important, it will correlate with your other attitudes Implicit attitude measures = indirect measures of attitudes that don't involve self reports   Used when people are unwilling/unable to report true attitudes  Use affective priming or implicit association test (IAT)  Allow to see automatic attitudes - people might not be conscious of them or they might conflict with endorsed explicit attitudes  Can also measure nonverbal expressions (ex. smiling) or physiological indicators (ex. heart rate)  Predicting Behavior from Attitudes  Attitudes don't predict behavior very well but they do go together  Usually people behave is certain way and so have a positive attitude towards it, but doesn't mean that people always act consistently with their attitudes  People may have many reasons for failing to act on their attitudes  Attitudes sometimes conflict with other determinants of behavior  "situationist" approach  Person's understanding of prevailing norms of appropriate behavior can greatly weaken relationship between attitude and behavior  Attitudes are sometimes inconsistent  They may conflict with one another  Different components of attitude may not always align  Particularly how we feel about something and what we think about it  So one component might win over the other in guiding behavior  Introspecting about reasons for attitudes  Thinking about why we like someone can sometimes lead to confusion about what the true feelings are  Introspection may lead us to focus of easiest to find reasons for liking/disliking something at expense of the real reasons  Can undermine how well attitudes guide behavior  This bad effect only happens when true source of attitude is hard to pin down, like when the basis is largely affective (i.e. based on emotions)  When basis is cognitive, search for reasons is likely to yield real reasons  Attitudes are sometimes based on secondhand info  Ones that are based on direct (firsthand) experience predict behavior better than those based on secondhand info  Ex. students with direct strong attitudes about a crisis were more likely to take action than those with less strong opinions  Mismatch between general attitudes and specific targets  Consistency between attitude and behavior is higher when they're both at the same level of specificity  If you want to predict a specific type of behavior, you have to measure the person's attitude towards that specific behavior, and not just in general  Usually people express their attitude toward a prototype of a given category  When an individual of that class doesn't match the prototype, our behavior doesn't match our stated attitude toward the class -- general attitude doesn't apply  Automatic behavior that bypasses conscious attitudes  Often behavior is reflexive, not reflective; context elicits behavior automatically  But it can sometimes be caused by attitudes - they exist so that we can make fast judgments and respond quickly without having to weigh all the pros and cons  Automatic behavior that bypasses attitudes can come into conflict with them without our awareness  Predicting Attitudes from Behavior  Over time outward behavior can create inner conviction; has powerful influence on attitude  Tendency to justify and rationalize our behavior and minimize inconsistency between attitudes and actions  Balance theory = people try to maintain balance among their beliefs, cognitions, and sentiments  In a triad, things are balanced if the product of the 3 sentiments is positive (1 positive sentiment and 2 negative or all 3 positive)  Ex. a liked celebrity (+) says good things about a product (+) so you're pressured to also like it to maintain balance  People remember balanced relationships better, rate them more favorably, and fill in unspecified relationships by assuming balance  Ex. if someone you know likes basketball, you're likely to assume that their friend does too  Cognitive dissonance theory = people are troubled by inconsistency among their thoughts, sentiments, and actions and they will expend psychological energy to restore consistency  Dissonance is felt when people experience inconsistency  People sometimes change cognition to make it more consistent with behavior  A hard decision mean that there are both desirable and undesirable features in both choices  People have tendency to rationalize decision  People have greater confidence in what they bet on after placing the bet  Making hard decisions triggers dissonance, which triggers the rationalization process (dissonance reduction) to make us more comfortable about our choices  Even just after a person develops a slight preference for one option, they distort subsequent info to support initial preference  Effort justification = people's tendency to reduce dissonance by justifying time, effort, or money they've devoted to something that's turned out to be disappointing  "sweet lemons justification" - "it's really not so bad"  Ex. someone is put through a rigorous initiation process to get into a group, the group was boring and uninteresting - created dissonance - reduced it by convincing themselves that it wasn’t that bad and later rated the group more favorably  Induced (forced) compliance = induced to behave in a manner that is inconsistent with their beliefs, attitudes, or values  People will change their original attitudes!  If people were given $1 to tell a lie (something at odds with their beliefs), they experienced dissonance and changed their original attitude  $1 was not enough justification  Those given $20 did not experience dissonance because the money was enough justification and the lie was of little consequence  To persuade someone and make them internalize the broader message behind the behavior, use the smallest amount of incentive (or coercion) to get them to do it  If the incentive is too substantial, people will justify their behavior by the reward and they won't rationalize it by changing their previous attitude  "forbidden toy" paradigm - children told not to play with second favorite toy; severe threat condition - all the toys will be taken away and experimenter will be and angry; mild threat condition - the experimenter will be annoyed  None of the children played with forbidden toy - but only those in mild threat condition experienced dissonance and convinced themselves that toy wasn't that great anyways  Not playing with the toy was justified by the harsh punishment for the kids in the severe threat condition  Later on, the kids in severe punishment condition may like the toy even more than they previously did  Kids in mild threat condition, changed their opinion about toy and didn't like it anymore  Mild punishment can bring about psychological change  When does inconsistency produce dissonance?  Aronson - inconsistency will arouse dissonance if it implicates our code sense of self  People like to think that they're rational, moral, and worthy; anything that challenges this is likely to arouse dissonance  When other people do something questionable - do we judge them  Wouldn't blame the person if they could not have acted in a different way, if they could justify their actions, or if they had no way for foreseeing the harm they might cause  Judge them more harshly in rough proportion to how much harm resulted  We should also experience dissonance if our conflicting behavior was freely chosen, the behavior is not sufficiently justified, has negative consequences , and negative consequences were foreseeable  Dissonance can be experienced even in free choice conditions  If we are paid well enough to do something that is inconsistent with our attitudes, we don't need to justify it  People experie
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