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Chapter 7

Chapter 7-Attitudes, Behaviour, and Rationalization.pdf

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Dan Dolderman

CHAPTER 7: ATTITUDES, BEHAVIOUR, AND RATIONALIZATION Two types of effects: 1. Effect of attitude on behaviour - is weaker than most people think - ex: Environmentalist more likely to vote Green Party or Democrat than Rep. 2. Effect of behaviour on attitude - is stronger than most think - ex: Environmentalists who drive gas-guzzling cars rationalize their behaviour by convincing themselves that car emissions have little influence on the climate or that they “don’t drive that much anyway.” - i.e., President Johnson converted war-skeptical politicians (from his own campaign) into true believers by sending them on “fact-finding” mission to Vietnam. Skeptics would rather try to influence admin. from the inside than in the public eye. As they supported the policy in the public-eye more and more, the skeptics start to believe their own lies and thus become true supporters of war. The Three Components of Attitudes Affect: degree of +/- emotion Attitude: an evaluation of an object in either a positive or negative light Cognition: thoughts, beliefs that involves the three elements of Affect Behaviour about object & associated memories, images; reinforces affect, cognition and behaviour. affect. Cognition Behaviour: tendency to approach or avoid; studies show attitudes activate motor region of brain Measuring Attitudes • Attitudes most commonly measured with simple survey questions. Likert scale: a numerical scale used to asses peopleʼs attitudes; it includes a set of possible answers with labeled anchors on each extreme. • Simple scales often miss important elements of complex attitudes, i.e., attitude towards same-sex marriage. • Although people may share a general positive/negative attitude towards a a certain idea, people still differ in strength and depth of their attitudes. • How to overcome this challenge? •Russell Fazioʼs approach: measuring accessibility of attitude (how readily the attitude can be activated in the individual’s mind, thereby guiding thought and behaviour). •Response latency: the time it takes an individual to respond to a stimulus, such as attitude question. •Fazio and Williams (1986) measured how long it took participants to answer attitude questions regarding presidential candidates. Time was strong predictor of who participants thought won first debate and for whom they eventually voted for. • Implicit attitude measures: indirect measures of attitudes that do not involve self-report, i.e., IAT (implicit associate test). • Allows researcher to tap into automatic (unconscious) attitudes of participants • Includes nonverbal measures (smiling), physiological indicators (heart rate, brain imaging) • The bad is stronger than the good •Joseph LeDoux ---> amygdala plays important role in the affective component of our attitudes. •When animals had no amygdala, they ate feces, mated with other species, did not fear predators, etc.. •More research ---> negative evaluations > positive evaluations • Evolutionarily: food/mating opportunities not realized today will happen tomorrow, but if predators not avoided today, there won’t be a tomorrow. • Losing 20$ > winning 20$ • Brain imaging showed negative stimuli ---> greater brain activity Predicting Behaviour from Attitudes • 1930s study Richard LaPierre: traveled U.S. with Chinese couple and were allowed into all but one establishment (hotels, cafes, etc..)---> would think that anti-Chinese prejudice not so strong. But LaPierre wrote to all establishments they visited to ask directly about their policy to serve Orientals, 90% said they would not. •Study indicates that attitudes may not always be the best predictor of behaviour •Findings were very shocking to psychologists •Therefore, important to understand when attitudes likely to be high predictors and when not. A. Attitudes sometimes conflict with other powerful determinants of behaviour • Behaviour is determined by too many things other than attitude (i.e., eating less is determined by more than attitude towards dieting like existing eating habits, physiology, environment, other attitudes towards pizza, ice cream, etc.). • Understanding of prevailing norms of appropriate behaviour can weaken relationship between person’s attitudes and behaviour (i.e., restaurants owners may have been afraid to cause a scene by denying Chinese couple service) B. Attitudes are sometimes Inconsistent • Attitudes may conflict with one another • Different components of one attitude may conflict with each other (i.e., affect and cognition) • i.e., Restaurant owners THINK it’s bad to serve Chinese but meeting real people made them FEEL it was hard to deny service C. Introspecting about reasons for our attitudes • Can confuse us about the real reasons for our attitudes • When introspecting, we focus on what is easy to identify- not necessarily what is true • Wilson study: Asked one group of participants for overall evaluation of relationship; asked another group to first list reasons why they felt the way they did and then make overall evaluation. 9 months later both groups asked about status of relationship: First group better predictors of status than second group. • Thinking about why we like someone can confuse us about true feelings. • Wilson also tested theory in non-romantic context ---> rating products (dislike/ like): participants who gave reasons more likely to regret decision and less accurate to products’ objective value • This does not mean introspection is futile! • Contamination effect of introspection usually only when true source of attitude hard to pin-point. • Introspection more useful in cognitive decisions (buying electronics) than in affective decisions (preference of artist). D. Attitudes are sometimes based on secondhand information • Attitudes based off direct (first-hand) experience predict subsequent beh. better than those based off indirect experience! • Regan & Fazio study: Cornell Uni housing shortage: some students had to sleep on cots in dormitory lounges. Others who were fortunate enough to get housing, only heard about housing crisis second-hand. Study on whether correlation between student’s attitudes and beh. (writing to officials/petitioning) high among directly affect students. IT WAS. • More studies: • Attitudes about participating in psych. exp. higher for those who have participated in past • Attitudes about solving intellectual puzzles higher for those who have tried them • Attitudes about flu shots higher for those who have gotten them E. The mismatch between general attitudes and specific targets • Consistency between attitudes and behaviour is higher when attitude and behaviour are at same level of specificity. • Lord, Lepper, & Mackie study: Male college students asked attitude towards gay men, and to describe stereotypical gay man. Months later, other experiment asked students willingness to show new student around campus. When student was described according to participant’s specific gay man stereotype ---> those with + attitude more willing; when description not match stereotypical image of participant ---> less willing. F. “Automatic” behaviour that bypasses conscious attitudes • Automatic behaviour that bypasses our conscious attitudes can conflict with those attitudes without our knowing it. • Beh. is often more reflexive than reflective. • Context elicits auto. beh., connection btw attitudes and beh. is necessarily weak • Evolutionarily we need automatic beh. to help us react quickly without thinking too much, i.e., jumping back when something looks like a snake Predicting Attitudes from Behaviour Urge to bring attitudes in line with beh. reflects powerful tendency to justify/rationalize beh. to minimize inconsistencies between att. and beh. a. Balance Theory • (Heider) people try to maintain balance among their beliefs, cognitions, and sentiments. • In triad, things are balanced when product of 3 sentiments = + • Advertisers take advantage... Beyonce, whom I like (+) says positive things (+) about perfume (+/-) ---> pressure on you to like (+) perfume so that product balances positively (+) =(+) x (+) x (+) • 2 types of supporting studies: • Present two (+)’s and elicit people’s inferences about third, which is usually (+) • Present balance and imbalanced relationships: people like & remember balanced better; and when info is missing, they fill in by assuming balance b. Cognitive Dissonance Theory • (Festinger) inconsistencies among personʼs thoughts, sentiments, and actions. • Dissonance---> aversive emotional state aroused by inconsistency between 2 cognitions • When cog.s related to own beh. ---> troubling inconsistency between cog. and beh. Decisions and Dissonance • Hard decisions innately cause dissonance: option you didn’t pick had attractive features, option you did pick has unattractive features • Festinger argued cog. diss. only happens once irr. dec. are made, which we then try to reduce •post-decision phenomenon of reevaluating options in favour of chosen •i.e., betters of horse race: before buying ticket all think “fair” chance if winning vs. think “good” or even “excellent” chance once ticket already bought •Further research---> rationalization also occurs before making decision, simple act of developing slight preference is enough! Effort Justification •reducing cog. diss. by justifying time, effort, or money devoted to something that turned out unpleasant/disappointing i.e., frat initiation hazing, religious groups • requiring a lot of time/money, etc.. •“sweet lemons rationalization” (“it’s really no so bad”) •Group sex discussion study: female students signed up for sex discussion groups, told they have to go through screening: control group read neutral words to male experimenter, “mild” condition group read mildly embarrassing words, “severe” condition group read obscene words and passage describing sexual intercourse. Then all sit through boring discussion where they can’t talk, only listen. Finally, all asked to rate discussion group. Induced Compliance and Attitude Change subtly compelling individuals to act in a • way inconsistent with their att./beliefs/ values, thus causing diss. and also then causing them to change original att. •Remember Pres. Johnson case (from beginning) •Festinger & Carlsmith study: boring spoon task, lie to next person that it’s fun
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