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Chapter 6

PSYC 2310 Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Wear Sunscreen, Negativity Bias, Classical Conditioning

Course Code
PSYC 2310
Saba Safdar

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Chapter 6: Attitude Formation and Change WEEK 3
- researchers today regard attitude as an abstract construct that cannot be
viewed but can be inferred from people’s behaviour and their self-report
- one of the most common ways in which people form attitudes is through the
information they received from their social environment
- negative information seems to have a stronger influence
o one of the explanations for the negativity bias is that negative
information should be more important to our survival than positive
information we should respond more quickly to painful stimuli than
pleasant ones
Classical Conditioning
- attitudes that can be formed based on a simple association between an object
or person and a pleasant or unpleasant even. This is called classical
o a type of learning in which a neutral stimulus is repeated paired with
a stimulus that elicits a specific response, and eventually the neutral
stimulus elicits that response on its own
- one way attitudes can be conditioned is through mere exposure
o the phenomenon by which the greater the exposure that we have to a
given stimulus, the more we like it
- in subliminal persuasion, the stimulus that influences the person’s attitude
is presented to rapidly that it is below the person’s level of conscious
o a type of persuasion that occurs when stimuli are presented at a very
rapid and unconscious level
Operant Conditioning
- most of us have experience with conforming to the attitudes of our peers
this type of conditioning is called operant conditioning
o a type of learning in which behaviour that is rewarded increases
whereas behaviour punished decreases
- parents initially have the power to form their children’s attitudes through
operant conditioning, which is one reason why most children express
attitudes that are similar to those of their parents
- by adolescence, peers often reward and punish particular attitudes which is
one of the factors that lead to high levels of conformity in this age group
Observational Learning/Modelling
- a type of learning in which people’s attitudes and behaviour are influenced
by watching other people’s attitudes and behaviours
- by observing how others feel, children may learn that they should have a
negative attitude toward broccoli or a positive attitude toward candy
- in line with this view, children who are raised by an overweight mother have
more positive attitudes toward overweight people, whereas those who are
raised by a thin mother have more positive attitudes towards thin people
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Chapter 6: Attitude Formation and Change WEEK 3
- similarly, researchers at UoG had found that parents who wear a seatbelt,
wear a helmet, wear sunscreen, etc. heavily influence their children
- social psychologists are most interest in attitude formation as a way of
predicting what people will do in the future and as you might guess, our
attitudes are not always a very good predictor of our behaviour
- Richard LaPierre Stanford U travelled around the US with a young
Chinese couple in the 1930s
- Widespread prejudice against Chinese people was quite common
- All accepted the Chinese couple in their facilities (restaurants, etc.)
- In questionnaire after the fact months later, 91% said they would not accept
such guests
o Attitudes vary in their strength, and strong attitudes are more likely
to predict behaviour than weak ones
Attitudes on topics that are highly important to us are
more predictive of our behaviour
Direct Experience:
Attitudes that are formed on the basis of direct
experience are likely to be stronger and therefore better
predictors of behaviour
o The ease or accessibility with which one’s attitude comes to mind can
also influence the attitude-behaviour link
o People who are well informed about a topic are likely to have a
greater attitude-behaviour consistency than those who are poorly
informed, because having a lot of information about a topic increases
the accessibility of attitudes about this topic.
o Situational factors can also influence accessibility, and in turn the
attitude-behaviour link.
o Situational factors that increase self0awareness can lead people to
engage in behaviour that is in line with their attitudes, perhaps in part
because factors that increase elf-awareness may also increase the
accessibility of one’s attitude
o The implicit and explicit rules that a specific group has for its
members on values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours
o These rules influence whether our attitudes predict our behaviour, in
part because our behaviour if often heavily influenced by others in a
Theory of Planned Behaviour
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