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Chapter 7

PSYC 215 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Likert Scale, Implicit Attitude, Cognitive Dissonance

Course Code
PSYC 215
Mark Baldwin

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Social Psychology Chapter 7 Attitude, Behaviour, and Rationalization
Influence of behaviour on attitude is actually stronger than the opposite
Components and Measurement
Attitude: evaluation of an object along a positive or negative dimension
o 1. Affect: positive or negative emotion
o 2. Cognitions: thoughts that a typically reinforce a person's feelings
o 3. Behaviours: behavioural tendency to approach or avoid
Measuring Attitudes
Usually self report measures - can be inaccurate, biased, not true
Likert scale: numerical scale that lists possible answers and with anchors on each
Response latency: amount of time it takes to respond to stimulus
o Study shows: the quicker decision made the stronger their attitude about
Implicit attitude measures: indirect measure that does not involve self report, for
people unwilling or unable to report attitude - one belief should be correlated with
another belief - determine the centrality of the attitude of belief system
Nonconscious attitude: may not be aware of immediate evaluative reactions
Use nonverbal measures such as physiological indicators
Amygdala: central to component of attitude
Negative evaluations are stronger than positive ones - increase chance of survival
- negative stimuli generates greater brain activity
Predicting Behaviour from Attitudes
1. Attitudes may conflict with each other
2. Different components of attitude may not always align (what we feel vs what
we think)
When affective and cognitive components are inconsistent, attitude may not
predict behaviour
Cognitive component might determine the attitude but affective component might
determine our behaviour or vice versa
Introspecting about the Reasons for Our Attitudes
Ex: why you like someone? People focus on easy to identify and easy to capture
in words and miss the real but hard to articulate reasons for the attraction
Thinking about why we like someone can mislead us in terms of our true attitude
toward that person, weakening the link between attitude we report after generating
reasons and our subsequent behaviour
Introspection may lead us to focus on the easier to identify reasons for liking or
disliking at the expenses of the real reasons
Contaminating effect of introspection is limited to those times when the true
source of our attitude is hard to pin down
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When the basis is primarily cognitive, the search for reasons tends to yield the
real reasons
Consistency between attitudes and behaviour is higher when they are both at the
same level of specificity
Sometimes our automatic behaviour is consistent with our attitudes (caused by)
Automatic behaviour that bypasses our conscious attitudes can conflict with those
attitudes without knowing it
Predicting Attitudes from Behaviour
Overtime, mere outward behaviour can give way to genuine inner conviction
Why does our behaviour so powerfully influence our attitudes?
o Explained by collectively cognitive consistency theories: that the impact
of behaviour on attitudes reflects the powerful tendency we have to justify
or rationalize our behaviour and to minimize any inconsistencies between
attitudes and actions
Cognitive Dissonance Theory
People are troubled by inconsistency in their thoughts and will expand
psychological energy to restore consistency
Inconsistency between behaviour and prior attitudes or values produces an
unpleasant physiological state that motivates people to reduce
Dissonance: aversive emotional state - is aroused when people experience
inconsistency between two cognitions
People try to change the cognition to make it more consistent with the behaviour
Rationalize: exert mental effort to reduce dissonance
o Study: dissonance reduction should be reflected in greater confidence on
the part of those interviewed after placing their bets because behaviour
Making hard decisions triggers processes of rationalization that
make us more comfortable with our choices
Dissonance reduction takes place only after an irrevocable decision
has been made
o Study shows: same sort of rationalization and distortion that occur after
people make a decision also subconsciously take place before decision
Once people develop a slight preference for one option, they
distort subsequent information to support their initial preference
Durability of attitude change occurs as a result of post decision
Effort justification: tendency to reduce dissonance by justifying the time, effort, or money
devoted to something that turned out to be unpleasant or disappointing
Induced (forced) compliance: compelling of people to behave in a manner that is
inconsistent with their beliefs, attitudes, values - to elicit dissonance and a change in their
original views
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