PSY 220 CH.8
• Ads for smoking have reduced its occurrence from 50% in 1950’s to 20% these days.Ads
by tobacco companies contribute to the 20% that continue to smoke.
• People can be remarkably persistent or susceptible to persuasion.
Functions of Attitudes
• Attitudes guide behaviour. Though it has 4 other main functions.
The Utilitarian Function ofAttitudes
• Utilitarian function: An attitudinal function that served to alert people to rewarding
objects and situations they should approach and costly or punishing objects or situations
they should avoid.
• When your attitudes towards goal-relevant objects are positive, you are more likely to
engage in goal-relevant behaviour.
• Argued that we have positive views towards landscape of waters, trees, ground cover
because that was what our ancestors looked for to survive.
• People’s attitudes towards things can be changed by being paired with emotionally
The Ego-Defensive Function of Attitudes
• Ego-defensive function: An attitudinal function that enables people to maintain cherished
beliefs about themselves and their world by protecting them from contradictory
• John Lost has argued that political conservatism is a form of motivated or ego-defensive
cognition that helps people ward off certain anxieties. They identify 2 core values to
political conservation. 1) Resistance to change. 2) Endorsement of inequality.
• To ward off fear or uncertainty, conservatives gravitate to attitudes and beliefs that
envision a structured and orderly world, and this behaviour gives rise to core values.
The Value-Expressive Function ofAttitudes
• Value-expressive function: An attitudinal function whereby attitudes help people express
their most cherished values – usually in groups in which these values can be supported
• Reference groups: Groups whose opinions matter to a person and that affect the person’s
opinions and beliefs.
• We all join groups to express our attitudes. These groups are reference groups.
• Our commitment to the idea that people in the groups we join share our attitudes can
even lead to certain forms of bias: within political groups, people tend to overestimate
the similarity between their own attitudes and the attitudes of the leader.
• Study on Bennington College, a largely liberal college that was in a largely Republican
area. Students who went their often ended up with a change of view.Afollow up study
using the same students found that the school formed a lasting impression on them.
The Knowledge Function of Attitudes
• Knowledge function: An attitudinal function whereby attitudes help organize people’s
understanding of the world, guiding how they attend to, store, and retrieve information. • We pay attention to and recall information that is consistent with our pre-existing
• Debate between Carter and Reagan. Who won? People who already identified as
supporters for each group saw their team as winning. Undecided voters gave a slight
advantage to Reagan.
• In contrast, prejudicial attitudes toward different outgroups lead us to interpret the actions
of members of those groups negatively, in ways that are consistent with our prejudice.
Persuasion andAttitude Change
• Scientific community overwhelmingly supports the idea of global warming. There is no
simple one-solution fits all means of persuasion to curb behaviours.
ATwo-Process Approach to Persuasion
• Two models developed to explain how people change their attitudes in response to
• Heuristic-systematic model: A model of persuasion that maintains that there are 2
different routes of persuasion: the systematic route and the heuristic route.
• Elaboration likelihood model (ELM): A model of persuasion that maintains that there are
2 different routes to persuasion: the central route and the peripheral route.
• Central (systematic) route: A persuasive route wherein people think carefully and
deliberately about the content of a message, attending to its logic, cogency, and
arguments as well as to related evidence and principles.
• All the elaboration and thinking can lead to a person changing an attitude (or not).
• Peripheral (heuristic) route: A persuasive route wherein people attend to relatively
simple, superficial cues related to the messages, such as the length of the message or the
expertise or attractiveness of the communicator.
• Here the individual is swayed by the cues without giving much thought to the message
• They tend to rely on the rule of thumb for to justify attitude change.
• Motivation is one thing that determines whether we will go through the central or
peripheral route. If there are personal consequences, we are more likely to take the central
• Ability to process the message in depth also contributes to which route we take. When the
message is clear and we have sufficient time, we will take the central route.
• 3 factors make the central route to persuasion more likely: 1) the personal relevance of
the message; 2) our knowledge about the issue; and 3) whether the message makes us feel
more responsible for some action or outcome.
• Peripheral processing is triggered by factors that: 1) reduce our motivation or 2) interfere
with our ability to attend to the message carefully.
• Study: Variations were strength of argument, relevance of issue, and a peripheral cue
(expertise of the source of the persuasive argument). Participants read 8 weak or strong
arguments in support of comprehensive exams being implemented. The year was varied
(1 year away and it will affect participants, 10 years not so much). Half were told the
arguments were generated by a high-school class the others from “Carneige Commission
on Higher Education” chaired by a Princeton University professor. When the message was not relevant, the source credibility mattered; the strength of the argument did not.
When it was personally relevant, the strength was important, but the source was not.
• High personal relevance was linked to being persuaded by the strength of the argument,
whereas low personal relevance led participants to be persuaded by source expertise.
• Yale school approach broke down persuasiveness into 3 components: 1) the who, the
source of the message, 2) the what, or content of the message, and 3) the whom, or target
of the message.
• Source characteristics: Characteristics of the person who delivers the message, including
the person’s attractiveness, credibility, and expertise.
• Through ELM, attractive communicators can promote attitude change through the
peripheral route of persuasion.
• Attractiveness may work through the central route, by getting you to think more about
something, however it is most common to work through the peripheral route.
• Acombination of expertise and trustworthiness of the communicator.
• These communicators produce more attitudinal change in circumstances that promote the
peripheral route to persuasion.
The Sleeper Effect
• Sleeper effect: An effect that occurs when messages from unreliable sources initially
exert little influence but later cause individuals’attitudes to shift.
• Over time, people dissociate the source of the message from the message itself.
• When cues that challenge the noncredible source precede the message – for example the
trustworthiness of the com