SOCIAL PSYC CHAPTER 7 SUMMARY
ATTITUDES, BEHAVIOR,AND RATIONALIZATION
There is a consistency between attitudes and behavior; does the consistency b/w the 2 influence more
behavior or attitudes? Both influence each other.
I.e.: ppl w/ pro-environment attitude will more like vote Green. Environmentally minded ppl who drive gas-
guzzling cars can convince themselves that it doesn’t contribute much to pollution.
The influence of attitudes on behavior is a bit weaker than we suspect & the influence of behavior on
attitudes is stronger than we suspect.
Give ppl a nudge to behave in a certain way = attitudes typically follow.
Attitudes are often poor predictors of behavior - depending on the circumstances.
THE THREE COMPONENTS OFATTITUDES
Attitude: evaluation of an object in a positive/negative way including the 3 elements of affect, cognition
1. affect: degree of appreciation of smtg, positive/negative emotion /b smtg.
2. cognitions: reinforce ppl’s feelings /b smtg. Knowledge & beliefs, ass./ memories, images w/ smtg.
3. behaviors: behavioral tendency to approach vs avoid smtg. When attitudes are primed, ppl are + likely to
act within the attitude. Neuroscientific studies show attitudes activate a specific region in the brain -
motor cortex - supporting specific actions, intentions.
Most commonly measured by surveys.Attitude questionnaires + used in social psych.
Rensis Liker: invented Likert-scale - a numerical scale used to assess ppl’s attitudes; includes a set of
possible answers w/ labeled anchors on each extreme. However, might miss precision on complex attitude
questions such as gay marriage, Tea Party, etc.
i.e. if ask how you feel /b freedom, reducing discrimination, environment, etc? Most ppl would answer
positively on the scale but the depth/strength of the attitudes might be diff.
Solution: developed by Russell Fazio - measure accessibility of the attitude = how easily can the attitude be
activated in someone’s mind thereby guiding thought & behavior.
- assessed the time it takes the individual to respond to the attitude question (response latency). I.e.
750 milliseconds to responds = stronger attitude than 3 seconds.
- study: before elections measured the response latency of ppl’s opinions /b both candidates. The results
were strong predictors of who they believed won the first debate b/w the candidates, & for which
candidate they voted.
2nd solution: determine the centrality of the attitude to the person’s belief system. To assess it, researchers
measure various attitudes within a domain & calculate how strongly each attitude is linked to each other.
- self reports on various social & political attitudes
- not only self-reports used - implicit attitude measures : indirect measures of attitudes that don’t
involve self-reports when led to ppl that ppl are unwilling/unable to report true attitudes (i.e. use of active
priming & implicit ass./ test).
- the implicit attitude measures allow researchers to tap automatic attitudes - ppl’s immediate reactions that
they might not be conscious of, or that may conflict w/ their consciously endorsed attitudes.
- use of non-verbal cues as indices of + attitudes towards others (smiling behavior, closeness).
- measure of physiological indicators - heart heart, sweaty palms - to capture attitudes. SOCIAL PSYC CHAPTER 7 SUMMARY
PREDICTING BEHAVIOR FROMATTITUDES
Richard LaPiere, study in the early 1930’s: 2 yrs touring around USAw/ Chinese couple. Denied service by
only one establishment on 250. When toured stopped, LaPiere wrote to the establishments asking if their
policy could serve Orientals.Around 90% responded they wouldn’t - inconsistent w/ observed facts =
attitudes do not predict behavior.
Many experiments in the following yrs reached the same conclusion.
Believed attitudes motivated behavior for so long since everyday life evidence inquires so (i.e. ppl against
abortion protest, ppl at the gym are positive towards sports, etc.). This only shows us that if ppl behave in a
certain way, they will have a positive attitude towards that behavior, not vice-versa. I.e. doesn’t mean that
you have a positive attitude towards sports that you will go to the gym weekly.
Attitudes Sometimes Conflict with Other Powerful Determinants of Behavior
All attitudes /b smtg compete t/ other determinants of behavior. I.e. someone’s + view on dieting & success
in diet = not strong relshp. The success also depends on eating habits, physiology, environment, etc. The
attitude is not the only influence.
Situationist msg of social psych = attitudes don’t always win out over the other determinants.
Ppl’s understanding of the prevailing norms of appropriate behavior weaken the relshp b/w attitudes &
behavior. I.e. turning down the Chinese couple might have caused a scene at the hotel so lay down the
Attitudes are Sometimes Inconsistent
Attitudes may conflict b/w each other. I.e. liking acting skills of an actor but hating his arrogance & persona.
Different components of an attitude may conflict. I.e. affective component (how we feel
/b the actor) & cognitive component (wht we think /b him). When these components are inconsistent, not
surprising we can’t predict behavior from it. The cognitive component can determine attitude and affective
component determine behavior & vice versa.
Introspecting about the Reasons for OurAttitudes
Why we like someone?
Study: asked students in 1 group to overall evaluate their relationship. 2nd group asked to first list why they
felt the way they did & give overall evaluation of their relationship. 9 months later they were asked /b the
status of their relationship.
- the attitudes of the 1st group were much more accurate predictors of the current status of the relationship
the 2nd group.
- thinking /b why we like someone can lead to confusion /b our true feelings.
This effect of introspecting /b the reasons for our attitudes applies to all domains & can undermine how well
the attitudes guide our behavior: leads us to focus on the easiest-to-identify reasons for liking/disliking
smtg at the expenses of the real reasons.
i.e. when asked to think why you prefer a product over another (as opposed to just preference) = + likely to
regret the choice later = choices less likely to correspond to the “true” value of products of the products as
determined by experts.
Not always bad to introspect - limitations of introspect only to the times when the true source of our attitude
is hard to pin down, when the basis of our attitude is largely affective. In this case, a cognitive analysis is
likely to seize on plausible but misleading cognitive reasons. SOCIAL PSYC CHAPTER 7 SUMMARY
When basis of our attitude is cognitive, the search for reasons is + likely to yield real reasons & introspect
is unlikely to diminish the relshp b/w attitude & behavior. I.e. introspecting /b why you like an artist might
create a rift b/w expressed attitude & subsequent behavior vs introspecting /b which camera model to buy.
AttitudesAre Sometimes Based on Secondhand Info
Attitudes towards Bali, Hilary Clinton, or British royal family = based on secondhand info. Possibility that
your attitude may bit off the mark & not match how you would behave in the given situation.
Experiments show that attitudes based on direct (firsthand) info predict subsequent behavior much better
than those derived indirectly (secondhand).
Study: measures of Cornell Uni students’ attitudes /b housing shortage causing freshman to spend the first
month or 2 sleeping on cots in a dormitory lounge. Some students had 1sthand experience, other had
merely heard /b it. Then given the opportunity to act on their attitudes by signing a petition, writing a letter,
joining committee, etc.
- the correlation b/w the students’ attitudes & their overt behavior was higher among the directly affected
Other studies confirm this effect
The Mismatch between GeneralAttitudes and Specific Targets
Usu express attitudes /b general classes of things - environmental ppl, French cooking
The attitude-relevant behavior typically assessed deals w/ particular instances of that class - donating to
Greenpeace, ordering foie gras
Great mismatch b/w general attitudes & specific instances of real behavior = another reason why attitudes
don’t predict behavior.
Consistency b/w attitude & behavior is higher when both are at the same lvl of specificity. I.e. LaPiere study
assessed general attitude of Chinese but when came a specific person, attitude did not correspond
because wasn’t general anymore.
We often reflect attitudes toward diff classes of ppl, places, things, etc. as an expression of attitudes toward
a prototype of a given category. When you encounter a sit./person that doesn’t fit the prototype, the
behavior will usu not reflect the stated attitude.
Study: male college students asked /b attitudes toward gay men. Researcher elicited their stereotypes of
the “typical” gay man. 2 months later, diff. experimental approach: asked the students if they could provide
a tour of the school to new students.
- 1st visitor “John B.” described as “typical” gay
- for 1/2 of the participants the description was crafted to fit their gay stereotype, 2nd 1/2 was not.
- students’ willingness to show John B. around the campus was strongly predicted by their attitudes toward
gay men (those w/ + attitudes = willing, w/ - = not) but only if he matched their prototype of gay individual.
- if John B. didn’t fit their prototype of gay man, their attitude didn’t predict their willingness.
“Automatic” Behavior That Bypasses ConsciousAttitudes
The influence of an attitude on our behavior is sometimes conscious & deliberate: reflect on attitude & then
decide how to behave.
However, behavior is often + reflexive than reflective & surrounding contxt elicits beavior automatically.
Sometimes automatic behavior is consistent w/ attitude. One of the purpose of attitude = allow us to
respond quickly w/o weighting the pros & cons - gut feeling. SOCIAL PSYC CHAPTER 7 SUMMARY
Some types of automatic behaviors bypass our attitudes - i.e. jumping away in the grass from smtg that
looks like a snake. Such actions come directly & mindlessly from the surrounding contxt = connection b/w
conscious attitudes & behavior is weak.
Behaviour can be automatically elicited by a stimuli from our environment.
Automatic behavior that bypasses our conscious attitudes can conflict w/ those attitudes w/o our knowing it.
PREDICTINGATTITUDES FROM BEHAVIOR
Mere outward behavior can give way to genuine inner conviction: i.e. being sent to church as kid even if
didn’t believe in it. In the long run, you stick to the tradition.
Example of behavior being strongly influenced by attitude. People also tend to bring their attitudes in line w/
their actions reflecting the powerful tendency to justify/rationalize our behavior & to minimize any
inconsistencies b/w our attitudes and actions.
Cognitive consistency theories: attempt to account for some common sources of rationalization ppl use to
bring their attitudes in line w/ their actions.
Atheory holding that ppl try to maintain balance among their beliefs, cognitions, & sentiments.
i.e. if 2 of your friends love each other: good, balanced. But if hate each other you’ll exert psychological nrj
to achieve/restore balance in the set of relshps. You may decide you like one friend less or conclude their
dislike of each other is a misunderstanding based on several issues.
In a threesome (triad) things balance if the product of 3 sentiments is positive. If my enemy (-) is disliked by
by a particular person (-), the balance is achieved by my liking this person (+) = - x - x + = +
Concept used in advertisement: beloved celebrity (+) say positive things (+) /b smtg they sell.
Support for the evidence from 2 types of studies:
1- establishing 2 relshps in a triad & eliciting ppl’s inferences /b the 3rd
2- present various balanced & imbalanced relshps and examine how well ppl remember them/how
comfortable they are w/ them. Ppl remember balanced relshps beter & rate them + favorably, and they “fill
in” unspecified relations by assuming balance.
Cognitive Dissonance Theory
Most influential consistency theory in social psychology.
Theory that maintains that inconsistencies among a person’s thoughts, sentiments, and actions create an
aversive emotional state (dissonance) that leads to efforts to restore consistency. Troubled by these
inconsistencies and so ppl will spend psychological nrj to restore it.
Leon Festinger thought an aversive emotional state -dissonance- is aroused when ppl experience
inconsistencies b/w 2 cognitions and when they’re /b own behavior.
When ppl troubled (i.e. i just failed to live up to my vow - cognition & behavior). When troubled, ppl try to
restore by changing the cognition to make it more consistent w/ behavior.
Decision and Dissonance
All hard decisions arouse dissonance. Since decision is hard, the rejected alternative must have some
desirable fts & the chosen alternative must have some undesirable, or both. These elements are
inconsistent w/ the choice we make = dissonance.
Once you made decision, you make mental efforts to reduce dissonance, rationalize it. SOCIAL PSYC CHAPTER 7 SUMMARY
Study: interview of bettors at racetrack - some b4 pacing bet, some after.Act of making a bet & making an
irrevocable choice of a particular horse causes bettors to reduce dissonance ass./ w/ negative fts of the
chosen horse and all positive fts of competing horses.
-dissonance reduction = greater confidence of ppl interviewed after placing the bet
-one participant interviewed while waiting in line: said had a fair chance of winning.After placing the bet
went up to researchers and told them he had a good chance even excellent chance of winning.
Making hard decisions triggers dissonance = triggers rationalization = + comfortable w/ our choice.
Similar findings in elections: voters more confident /b the choice after having voted.
Dissonance reduction only takes place after an irrevocable decision has been made: “clear & undeniable
diff. b/w the cognitive processes occurring during the period of making a decision & those occurring after
decision was made. Reevaluation of alternatives in the direction of favoring the chosen/disfavoring the
rejected alternative...is as post-decision phenomenon”.
Humans can anticipate future thus same sorts of rationalization & distortion occurring after decision making
also appear subconsciously b4.
Study: choosing restaurant, vacation spot, political candidates, etc. Once ppl dev. a preference for one
option, they distort subsequent info to support their initial preference.
i.e. small size of Italian restaurant = positive for those leaning towards Italian food (“nice & intimate”) but
negative for those preferring big burger joint (“won’t be able to talk w/o everyone hearing”).
Festinger right /b the processes of decisions making but wrong it happens only after: happens b4 & after.
Ppl’s tendency to reduce dissonance by justifying the time, effort, or money they have devoted to smtg that
has turned out to be unpleasant/disappointing. If you pay a high price for smtg - dollars, effort, time, etc. -
and turns out to be disappointing = dissonance. = devote mental nrj to justify your actions.
Most familiar example on campus: fraternity hazing. Need to believe it is worhtwhile to go through suffering
& humiliation rituals. The Greek system capitalizes on cognitive dissonance.
Sweet lemons rationalization - “it’s not rly that bad” - seen in many contxt. I.e. religious groups
asking to contribute time & money, high prices at high class restaurants, taking care of animal (poops,
walks in the morning, etc.), taking care of kids, etc.
-Study: role of dissonance in such sit. Female undergrads signed up for a study thinking it involved
joining an ongoing discussion group /b sex. When arrived, told not everyone can speak /b it comfortably
so participants had to pass a screening test to join gr.All participants were told they passed the test.
-ppl in the control gr. simply read aloud a list of innocuous words to the male experimenter
-ppl in the “mild” initiation condition read aloud a list of mildly embarrassing words (prostitute, virgin,
-ppl in the “severe” condition read obscene words & a passage from a book description sexual scene.
-told that best if they just listen to the first session /b boring talk on sex life invertebrates. Members in the
discussion gr. contradicted themselves, not clear sentences, uninteresting etc. Discussion boring &
disappointing for to all participants, but produced dissonance only for the ppl in the severe condition.
The cognition “i suffered to get into this gr.” is inconsistent w/ realization the the group is boring.
-to reduce dissonance, participants convinced themselves that it wasn’t so boring. When asked to rate
the quality of the discussion at the end, ppl in severe condition rated it + favorably. SOCIAL PSYC CHAPTER 7 SUMMARY
I. Induced Compliance and Attitude Change
Dissonance theory explains what happens as a result of induced (forced) compliance - subtly
compelling individuals to behave in an inconsistent manner w/ their beliefs, attitudes, values to elicit
dissonance & a change in their original attitudes or values.
Most ppl feel discomfort & mismatch. Way to deal w/ it = change original attitude or value.
Core idea in Lyndon’s stratagem w/ the Chinese couple study.
Various studies demonstrated the power of induced compliance to shift’s a person’s original attitudes.
Study: ppl engaged in an experimental drudgery for an hour (loading spools on a tray over & over, turning
pegs on a pegboard one-quarter turn at a time).
-ppl in control cond. sent immediately after to see someone from the psych. department interviewing
them /b the experience as research volunteers. When asked how much enjoyed, rated it low.
-ppl in 2 other cond. told that the experiment was /b how ppl’s performance on a task is influenced by
their expectations /b it b4 hand. Led to believe they were in a control, “no expectations” cond., but that
the other subjects were told b4hand the experiment was interesting or boring. Experimenter told that
next participant was coming and needed to be told it’s interesting. Told this was usu done by a
confederate but he didn’t show up & asked participant to play the role of the confederate. Offered either
1$ or 20$ to do so.
-in this “play within a play” true participants think they are the confederates. They ended up lying saying a
boring experiment was interesting. Produced dissonance for participants only offered 1$ - words
inconsistent w/ beliefs and 1$ not enough to justify the lie. The ones w/ 20$ could justify it was worth it
since the pay was good and lie of little consequence.
-participants in 1$ cond. rationalize behavior - reduce dissonance - by changing their attitude /b the task
they performed. Convinced themselves the task was not uninteresting after all and the lie wasn’t rly a lie.
When asked to evaluate their experience like ppl in the control gr. the ones in 1$ cond. rated it more
favorably. Only they - of all - rated the activities above a neutral pts.
If you want to persuade ppl to do stmg, you want them to internalize the broader msg behind the behavior &
use the smallest amount of incentive/coercion necessary to get them to do it. If the inducements are too
substantial, ppl will justify their behavior by the inducements (like ppl in the 20$ cond.) and there is no need
to rationalize their behavior by coming to believe in the bigger purpose behind it. Opposite for ppl w/ barely
Induced Compliance and Extinguishing Undesired Behavior
Involves the use of mild vs severe punishments. Illustrated by experiments using the “forbidden toy”
Study: showed children at nursery school a set of 5 toys & asked them which one they liked each one.
Explained had to leave for a second but he’ll come back. Children free to play w/ any toy except for the 2nd
-1/2 of the children asked not to play w/ the forbidden toy & that experiment would be annoyed if they did.
Mild threat condition.
-1/2 of the children told that if they play w/ the forbidden toy, the experimenter would be very angry, take
all toys home, and never come back.
-No children played w/ the forbidden toy. Not playing w/ the toy produced dissonance but only for the kids
in the mild condition. Not playing w/ the toy is inconsistent w/ its high desirability. Resolved by
derogating the toy - “not so great after all”. Ppl in severe cond. didn’t have such dissonance since
playing w/ the toy was justified by the severe threat. Nothing to cause them to derogate the toy. SOCIAL PSYC CHAPTER 7 SUMMARY
-Children had to re-evaluate the toys when experimenter returned. Kids in severe condition didn’t
degrade their liking of the toy. In mild cond., viewed toy less favorably.
-Threat of severe punishment will keep children from doing it but they’ll still want to do it after. Threat of
mild punishment will be enough to keep them from doing it and bring psychological change to not be
tempter to do it anymore.
When Does Inconsistency Produce Dissonance?
Festinger thought ppl would experience dissonance when held 2 inconsistent cognitions. What constitute
We refrain from doing things we would find enjoyable even w/ no compelling reasons to refrain us from it.
Solution to the question by EliotAronson - a particular inconsistency will arouse dissonance if it implicates
our core sense of self.
-Ppl tend to think of themselves as rational, morally upright, worthy, and anything that challenges it =
arouses dissonance. I.e. expending great effort to join a boring gr. questions our wisdom & rationality,
lying to a student /b a boring task challenges our integrity.
Cognitions likely to challenge our sense of judgement & personal character: think of when someone else’s
actions make us question that person’s character.
-i.e. if you ask help from a friend and says no. Harshness of judgement depends on several factors.
Wouldn’t blame him if he rly couldn’t (i.e. was at work) or if he can justify his actions (i.e. study for an
important exam) he could have helped you out but doing