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Chapter 8

PSYB10H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Theodore Newcomb, Master Sergeant, Morning Sickness

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Elizabeth Page- Gould

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PSYB20 Chapter 8
Functions of attitudes
There are 4 main functions of attitudes:
1. Utilitarian function: Attitudes alert ppl of things they should approach (desirable object or situation)
and of things they should avoid (costly/punishing objects)
Goals activate attitudes and attitudes induce goal related behavior (ex: if you view library
positively, will go the library)
Attitudes makes us achieve goals that matter to us.
Innate human utilitarian functions:
(+) attitude SWEET foods = helps us identify nutritional foods
Pregnant Women’s sensitivity to bitter – morning sickness – prevent women from eating
bitter foods containing toxins that can potentially harm fetus.
Humans (+) attitudes toward: green, water filled, natural areas – needed for survival (evo
2. Ego Defensive function: Protects us from unpleasant facts and emotions
Ex. Fear of death = belief in god and after life
3. Value-Expressive function: Helps us express our most cherished valued usually in groups where they
will be supported and reinforced.
Reference Groups: groups whose opinions matter to us & affect our opinions/beliefs (ex:
youth group)
Experiment by Theodore Newcomb took conservative minded students in college that wasn’t all
liberal staffed by liberal professors. After staying four years at the college, the attitudes of
majority students changed from conservative to republican.
4. Knowledge Function: helps organize our understanding of the world.
Make us more efficient and even biased of the social situations we experience (ex: we pay
attention to and recall info that is consistent with our preexisting attitudes)
Ex. After watching a debate, students were asked who won the debate? It was noticed that those
who supported a particular political leader thought that political leader won.
Persuasion and attitude change
Two theoretical methods were developed – 1980s to explain how people change their attitudes in response
to persuasive messages:
1. Heuristic-systematic model of persuasion – Shelly Chaiken: maintains that there are two different
routes of persuasion:
A. Systematic route
B. Heuristic route
2. Elaboration likelihood model (ELM) of persuasion – Petty & Cacioppo: maintains that there are
two different routes of persuasion:
A. Central route (Aka: systematic route – Chaiken’s model)
Motivation and ability factors that lead to this method of persuasion if: issue is personally
relevant, knowledgeable in domain and personally responsible.
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PSYB20 Chapter 8
Thinking carefully and deliberately about the content of the msg
Attend to its logic and cogency (how convincing the argument is)
Attend to the evidence and principles cited
Retrieve info tht is relevant – experience, memories and images
Such thinking can influence a person to change attitude or not
Affects QUALITY of argument
Central route is influenced by:
1. Personal Relevance of message – whether message bears on our goals, concerns, and well
2. Knowledge about issue – The more we know, the more likely we are to scrutinize message
with care and thoughtfulness
3. Whether message makes us feel responsible for some action or outcome. (Ex: when we have
to explain the message to someone)
B. Peripheral route (Aka: heuristic route)
Motivation and ability factors that lead to this method of persuasion if: issue isn’t
personally relevant, person is distracted or fatigued and if msg is incomplete or hard-to-
People attend to superficial aspects of the msg tht r tangential to its substance. (ex:
Length of message – many arguments presented, the expertise or attractiveness of
communicator, consensus – many ppl agree)
Peripheral Processing is triggered by FACTORS that:
1. Reduce our motivation
People who are tired, who are in uncomfortable posture, or are given messages that
are incomplete or hard to understand are more likely to focus on peripheral cues of a
2. Interfere with our ability to attend to the message carefully
Example: When someone is multitasking they are more likely to attend to peripheral
What determines whether we will go through the central or peripheral route?
1. Motivation: Devoting time and energy to message
Msg has personal consequences for us  we think about it more carefully using central
2. Ability to process the message in depth
When msg is clear and we have sufficient time, we r able to process it deeply
When we have little motivation and little ability to process message we attend to the
easy-to-process peripheral cues
An Experiment to clarify this:
When exam was 10yrs later – not relevant to students – were more moved by whether arguments
came from high schoolers or uni-students
When exam was the following year – message was relevant – more persuade by strong argument,
less influenced by who generated the arguments
High Personal Relevance = more persuaded by argument Strength
Low Personal Relevance = more persuaded by Expertise of communicator
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