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Chapter 7

Chapter 7 - Attitudes, Behavior, and Rationalization.odt

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McGill University
PSYC 215
John Lydon

Chapter Seven: Attitudes, Behavior and Rationalization the influence of attitudes on behaviors is a bit weaker than most people suspect the influence of behavior on attitudes is much stronger than people suspect attitudes are surprisingly poor predictors of behavior, but it specifies the circumstances in which attitudes predict behavior rather well The Three Components ofAttitudes attitude an evaluation of an object in a positive or negative fashion that includes the three elements of affect, cognition, and behavior affect how much people like or dislike an object nearly all objects trigger some degree of positive or negative emotion cognitions thoughts that typically reinforce a person's feelings include knowledge and beliefs about the object, as well as associated memories and images behaviors actions, usually a tendency to either approach or avoid when specific attitudes are primed, people are more likely to act in a way consistent with that attitude our attitudes activate particular regions in the brain that support specific actions MeasuringAttitudes attitudes are most commonly measured through simple survey questions researchers typically ask their participants to rate an attitude object on a Likert scale Likert scale a numerical scale used to assess people's attitudes; includes a set of possible answers with labeled anchors on each extreme ex. - 1= never; 7 = always responses to these sort of simple scales are likely to miss some important elements when it comes to complex attitudes people differ in the strength and depth of their attitudes toward complex issues to capture the richness of people's attitudes: measure the accessibility of the attitude how readily the attitude can be activated in the individual's mind response latency the time it takes for an individual to respond to an attitude question determine the centrality of the attitude to the individual's belief system researchers measure a variety of attitudes within a domain and calculate how strongly each attitude is linked to the others if an attitude is very important to you, it should be highly correlated with your attitudes towards certain other issues implicit attitude measures indirect measures of attitudes that do not involve self- report utilized when there is reason to believe that people may be unwilling or unable to report their true attitudes two widely used measures: affective priming implicit association test (IAT) allow researchers to tap into automatic attitudes, or people's immediate evaluative reactions that they may or may not be conscious of, or that may conflict with their consciously endorsed attitudes researchers can use nonverbal measures of attitudes people's smiling behaviors people's degree of physical closeness researchers can measure physiological indicators increased heartbeat associated with fear sweaty palms associated with fear Box 7.1 negative evaluations are stronger than positive evaluations makes evolutionary sense (food and mates are available tmrw; if a predator is not successfully avoided, there is no tmrw) Predicting Behavior fromAttitudes 1930's, Richard LaPiere spent two years traveling the States with a young Chinese couple in the 30's went to 250 establishments; refused service in one establishment LaPiere wrote to each establishment asking whether or not they employ a policy to refuse service to Orientals ~90% replied that they would NOT provide service to an Oriental conclusion: attitudes do not predict behavior very well 1960's, a review the present review provides little evidence to support the postulated existence of stable underlying attitudes within the individual which influence both his verbal expressions and his actions people are surprised by this because we see plenty of evidence every day that attitudes and behavior go together BUT this evidence only tells us that if people behave in a certain way, they are likely to have a positive attitude toward that behavior this does not mean that people with a positive attitude towards a given behavior are likely to behave in a manner consistent with their attitude people may have many reasons for failing to act on their attitudes Attitudes Sometimes Conflict with Other Powerful Determinants of Behavior attitudes compete with other determinants of behavior attitudes do not always win out over these other determinants and therefore are not always tightly connected to behavior one determinant that can weaken the relationship between attitudes and behavior is an individual's understanding of the prevailing norms of appropriate behavior Attitudes are Sometimes Inconsistent attitudes may conflict with one another different components of attitudes may not always align in particular, there can be a rift between the affective and cognitive components of attitudes affective component what we feel about the subject cognitive component what we think about the subject cognitive components might determine the attitudes we express, but the affective components might determine our behavior (or vice versa) Introspecting about the Reasons for OurAttitudes sometimes it's not easy to know exactly why we hold the attitudes we do when we introspect about the reasons why we like something, we may focus on what is easy to justify, easy to identify, and easy to capture in words in doing so, we may miss the real reason for our attraction thinking about why we like someone can sometimes lead to confusion about what our true feelings really are introspection about the reasons for our attitudes about all sorts of things can determine how well those attitudes might guide our behavior when people are induced to think carefully about the reasons they prefer one product over another, they are more likely to regret their choice later, and their choices are less likely to correspond to the true value of the product as determined by experts in many cases, the real reasons for our attitudes are perfectly easy to identify and articulate introspection therefore produces no rift between the variables we think are guiding our attitudes and those that actually are the contaminating effect of introspection is limited to those times when the true source of our attitude is hard to pin down (a.k.a. the basis of our attitude is largely affective) a cognitive analysis is likely to seize on seemingly plausible but misleading cognitive reasons when the basis of our attitude 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 Attitudes are Sometimes Based on Secondhand Information attitudes based on direct (firsthand) information and experience predict subsequent behavior much better than those derived indirectly (secondhand) when the attitude we have about some object or event is based on firsthand experience, our attitude may turn out to be a rather telling guide to our subsequent actions after all The Mismatch between GeneralAttitudes and Specific Targets people generally express attitudes that are about general classes of things attitude-relevant behavior that is typically assessed deals with a particular instance of that class because of the great mismatch between general attitudes and specific instances of real behavior, it is no wonder that attitudes do not always predict behavior particularly well consistency between attitudes and behavior is higher when the attitude and behavior are at the same level of specificity highly specific attitudes do a better job at predicting specific behaviors if you want to measure a specific behavior accurately, you have to measure people's atitudes towards that specific type of behavior general attitudes tend to do a better job of predicting how a person behaves in general across a number of different instances what people generally think of as attitudes toward different classes of people places things and events are often expressions of attitudes towards a prototype of a given category if we encounter a specific situation or behavior who doesn't fit the prototype, our behavior is not likely to reflect our stated attitude our general attitude doesn't apply to that sort of person Lord, Lepper, &Mackie, 1984 John B. experiment assessment of attitudes vs. behaviors towards gay men
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