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Chapter 7

TEXTBOOK Chapter 7 - Attitudes, Behaviour, and Rationalization

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Emily Impett

Notes From Reading: C HAPTER 7: ATTITUDES , EHAVIOR ,AND RATIONALIZATION (233- 272) The Three Components of Attitudes - 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 - Cognition – thoughts that typically reinforce a person’s feelings o Knowledge and beliefs about the object, as well as memories and images - Behaviors – when specific attitudes are primed, people are more likely to act in ways consistent with the attitude - Attitudes activate particular regions in the brain – areas of the motor cortex – that support specific actions Measuring Attitudes - Likert Scale – A numerical scale used to assess people’s attitudes; it includes a set of possible answers with labeled anchors on each extreme (1=never, 7=always) - Accessibility of the attitude is how readily the attitude can be activated in the individual’s mind, thereby guiding thought and behavior - Response Latency – The time it takes an individual to respond to a stimulus, such as an attitude question - Centrality of the attitude measures a variety of attitudes within a domain and calculate how strongly each attitude is linked to the others - Implicit Attitude Measures – Indirect measures of attitudes that do not involve self- report - Automatic Attitudes – people’s immediate evaluative reactions that they may not be conscious of, or that may conflict with their consciously endorsed attitudes Predicting Behavior from Attitudes - LaPiere Study: he spent two years touring the United States with a young Chinese couple, visiting numerous hotels, auto camps, restaurants and cafes o Although prejudice and discrimination against Chinese individuals were common at the time, it is reassuring to learn that LaPiere and his traveling companions were denied service by only one of the 250 establishments they visited o LaPiere wrote to all of the establishments they had visited and asked whether their policy was to serve “Orientals” o Approx. 90% of those who responded said they would not, a response rate that was inconsistent with what LaPiere actually observed o This suggested that attitudes do not predict behavior very well Attitudes Sometimes Conflict with Other Powerful Determinants of Behavior - Attitudes do not always win out over other determinants, and hence attitudes are not always so tightly connected to behavior - One strong determinant of a person’s actions 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 - The different components of an attitude may not always align - When the affect and cognitive component of an attitude are inconsistent, attitude may not predict behavior very well o Cognitive component might determine the attitude we express, but the affective component might determine our behavior (or vise versa) Introspecting about the Reasons for Our Attitudes - Thinking why we like someone can often lead to confusion about our true feelings Notes From Reading: C HAPTER 7: ATTITUDES , BEHAVIOR ,AND RATIONALIZATION (233- 272) - Introspecting about the reasons for our attitudes about all sorts of things can undermine how well those attitudes guide our behavior o Introspections may lead us to focus on easiest-to-identify reasons for liking or disliking something at the expense of the real reasons for our likes and dislikes Attitudes Are Sometimes Based on Secondhand Information - 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 General Attitudes and Specific Targets - Studies have shown that consistency between attitudes and behavior is higher when the attitude and behavior are at the same level of specificity o Higher specific attitudes typically do a better job of predicting specific behaviors o General attitudes typically do a better job of predicting how a person behaves “in general” across a number of different instances - If we encounter a specific situation or person who doesn’t fit the prototype, our behavior s not likely to reflect our stated attitude “Automatic” Behavior That Bypasses Conscious Attitudes - The influence of an attitude on behavior is sometimes conscious and deliberate: we reflect on our attitudes and then decide how to behave - Sometimes our automatic behavior is consistent with – indeed, caused by – our attitudes - One of the purposes of attitudes is to allow us to respond quickly, without having to do much weighing of pros and cons Predicting Attitudes from Behavior - Behavior can powerfully influence attitudes - This urge reflects the powerful tendency to justify, or rationalize, our behavior and to minimize any inconsistencies between our attitudes and actions Balance Theory - Balance Theory – A theory holding that people try to maintain balance among their beliefs, cognitions, and sentiments (developed by Heider) - People remember balanced relationships better and rate them ore favorably, and they “fill in” unspecified relations by assuming balance Cognitive Dissonance Theory - Cognitive Dissonance Theory – A 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 (developed by Festinger) - Decisions and Dissonance o A moment’s reflections tells us that all hard decisions arouse some dissonance o Since decision is hard, the rejected alternative must have some desirable features, the chosen alternative have some undesirable features, or both o Numerous people have the tendency to rationalize their decisions o Horse Race Study: investigators interviewed bettors at a racetrack, some just before and some just after placing their bets. Dissonance reduction should be reflected in greater confidence on the part of those interviewed right after placing their bets. Bettors who were waiting in line to place their bets gave their horses a “fair” chance of winning the race; those who were asked after they had placed their bets and were leaving the ticket window gave their horses a “good” chance to win. o Making hard decisions triggers dissonance, which in turn triggers processes of rationalization that make us more comfortable with our choices o Rationalization and distortion that occur after people make a decision also subconsciously take place before they make the decision Notes From Reading: C HAPTER 7: ATTITUDES , EHAVIOR ,AND R ATIONALIZATION (233- 272) - Effort Justification o Eff
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