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Chapter 6

PSYB10 Chapter 6 Attitudes and Attitude Change

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Elizabeth Page- Gould

Chapter 6 Attitudes and Attitude Change Attitude  A like or dislike toward someone or something - Attitude object is the target of the attitude (thing, person, place, idea) - Where do attitudes come from? o Affectively based attitudes  Based on people’s emotions and feelings about the attitude object o Behaviourally based attitudes  Based on observations of how one behaves toward an attitude object o Cognitively based attitudes  Based on people’s beliefs about the properties of an attitude object - What goes into an attitude? o Valence (positive to negative)  Bipolar dimension from good to bad o Strength (strong to weak)  Intensity of the attitude - Attitude types o Explicit attitudes  Stored in the form of a statement  You are fully aware  Rooted in recent experiences o Implicit attitudes  Stored as an association in your semantic network  You may or may not be aware  Rooted in childhood experiences - Attitudes and behaviour o Theory of planned behaviour  Which comes first?  Attitude affects behaviour  Behaviour can change your attitude  A change in people’s behaviour alters their attitudes o Cognitive dissonance  Dissonance is an unpleasant feeling of tension  You experience cognitive dissonance when:  You experience two contradictory attitudes  Your behaviour is inconsistent with your attitudes  To reduce cognitive dissonance:  You change your behaviour  You change one of your attitudes*  You reappraise the situation so that your behaviour no longer indicates anything about your attitudes (You add new attitudes) o Overjustification effect  Justifying an attitude-inconsistent behaviour o Post-decision dissonance  Dissonance after making a decision  Reduced by:  Enhancing the attractiveness of the chosen alternative  Devaluing the rejected alternatives o Justification of effort  The tendency for people to increase their liking for something they have worked hard to attain  E.g. expend a great deal of effort to get into a particular club  Justify effort by interpreting all the ambiguous aspects of the group in a positive manner  E.g. raising a child is time, money, and other resources  There is nothing more rewarding in life than raising a child  If a person goes through an effortful, difficult or an unpleasant experience to attain some goal or object, that goal or object becomes more attractive o External justification  A person’s explanation for dissonant behaviour that resides outside the individual  E.g. to receive a large reward  E.g. to avoid a severe punishment o Internal justification  When you can’t find an external justification for dissonant behaviour  The reduction of dissonance by changing something about one self’s attitude or behaviour  Counter-attitudinal advocacy  The process that occurs when a person states an opinion or attitude that runs counter to his or her private belief or attitude  We start to believe the lie we told  E.g. offered $20 for telling the lie versus offered $1 for telling the lie o $20 had a large external justification but didn’t believe the lie o $1 changed their attitude because external justification was insufficient and start to believe the lie o Insufficient punishment  The dissonance created when individuals lack sufficient external justification for having resisted a desired activity or object  To stop someone from behaving badly  E.g. stop bullying  If the bully is given a mild punishment, they convince themselves that they don’t find bully as much fun  If the bully was given a severe punishment, they would have a large external justification for stopping bullying  The behaviour may decrease because there is large external justification  There is no reason to change their attitude o Rationalization trap  The potential for dissonance reduction to produce a succession of justifications that ultimately result in a chain of stupid or immoral actions  Reducing dissonance too much isn’t good because this can endanger us not learning from our mistakes  Self-affirmation can be used to boost self-esteem and remind us that we are competent in other areas  Self-affirmation theory  People will reduce the impact of a dissonant-arousing threat to their self-concept by focusing on and affirming their competence on some dimension unrelated to the treat  May reverse rationalization trap - Liking  positively-valenced attitude o Balance theory  To reduce cognitive dissonance, we desire to keep a positive balance between our opinions and others o Options when unbalanced  Try to change friend’s attitude  Change your attitude  Change your liking of your friend - Attitude change o Persuasion  The altering of an existing attitude or the adoption of a new attitude  Methods of persuasion  Heuristic-systematic model o Two ways in which persuasive communications can cause attitude change  Systematic processing  People process the merits of the arguments  People think about and process the content of the communication
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