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PSY220H1 (200)


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Jennifer Fortune

Attitudes and Attitude Change CHAPTER 7Attitudes and Attitude ChangeInfluencing Thoughts and FeelingsCHAPTER 7 OVERVIEWIn Chapter 7 the topics of attitudes and attitude change are examined Attitudes are evaluations of people objects and ideas Researchers have addressed the question of where attitudes come from Some attitudes are linked to our genes Even if there is a genetic component our social experiences clearly play a major role in shaping our attitudes Attitudes can be cognitively affectively or behaviorally based A cognitively based attitude is based primarily on peoples beliefs about the properties of an attitude object An affectively based attitude is based more on peoples feelings and values than on their beliefs about the nature of an attitude object The function of attitudes based on values and feelings is not so much to paint an accurate picture of the world as to express and validate ones basic value system Affectively based attitudes can also result from a sensory reaction aesthetic reaction or they can be the result of conditioning Classical conditioning is the phenomenon whereby a stimulus that elicits an emotional response is repeatedly paired with a neutral stimulus that does not until the neutral stimulus takes on the emotional properties of the first stimulus In operant conditioning behaviors that we freely choose to perform become more or less frequent depending on whether they are followed by a reward or punishment A behaviorally based attitude stems from peoples observations of how they behave toward an object According to Daryl Bems selfperception theory under certain circumstances people dont know how they feel until they see how they behave People infer their attitudes from their behavior only when there are no other plausible explanations for their behavior Once an attitude develops it can exist at two levels Explicit attitudes are ones we consciously endorse and can easily report People also have implicit attitudes which are involuntary uncontrollable and at times unconscious evaluations Attitudes do sometimes change When attitudes change they often do so in response to social influence Attitude change can come from cognitive dissonancewhen people behave inconsistently with their attitudes and cannot find external justification for their behavior Although dissonance techniques are powerful they are very difficult to carry out on a mass scale To change as many peoples attitudes as possible you would have to resort to other techniques of attitude change You would probably use some sort of persuasive communication which is a communication such as a speech or television advertisement that advocates a particular side of an issue Social psychologists have conducted many studies over the years on what makes a persuasive communication effective The Yale Attitude Change Approach refers to the study of the conditions under which people are most likely to change their attitudes in response to persuasive messages focusing on who said what to whomthe source of the communication the nature of the communication and the nature of the audience The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion specifies when people will be influenced by what the speech says and when they will be influenced by more superficial characteristics The theory states that under certain conditions people are motivated to pay attention to the facts in a communication and so they listen carefully to and think about the arguments This is the central route to persuasion The peripheral route to persuasion is the case whereby people do not elaborate on the arguments in a persuasive communication but are instead swayed by peripheral cues People are more likely to take the166 Copyright2010 by Pearson Education inc All rights reserved Chapter 7 central route if they are motivated and have the ability to pay attention to the facts Motivation is higher when the communication is personally relevant Peoples motivation to pay attention to a speech depends on their personality Some people enjoy thinking things through more than others do they are said to be high in the need for cognition People high in need for cognition are more likely to pay close attention to relevant arguments whereas people low in need for cognition are more likely to rely on peripheral cues It is more difficult to pay attention to a communication if we are tired distracted or if the issue is too complex and hard to evaluate People who base their attitudes on a careful analysis of the arguments will be more likely to maintain this attitude over time more likely to behave consistently with this attitude and more resistant to counterpersuasion than people who base their attitudes on peripheral cuesTo get people to consider carefully constructed arguments you have to get their attention One way to get peoples attention is to scare them A feararousing communication is a persuasive message that attempts to change peoples attitudes by arousing their fears The effectiveness of feararousing communication depends on whether the fear influences peoples ability to pay attention to and process the arguments in a message If a moderate amount of fear is created and people believe that listening to the message will teach them how to reduce this fear they will be motivated to analyze the message carefully and will likely change their attitudes via the central routeAnother way in which emotions can cause attitude change is by acting as a signal for how we feel about something According to the heuristicsystematic model of persuasion when people take the peripheral route to persuasion they often use heuristics Our emotions and moods can themselves act as heuristics to determine our attitudes The only problem is that sometimes it is difficult to tell where our feelings come from We may misattribute feelings created by one source to another source The success of various attitude change techniques depends on the type of attitude we are trying to change Several studies have shown that if an attitude is cognitively based try to change it with rational arguments if it is affectively based try to change it with emotional appeals Advertisements are more effective when they emphasize the attitudes of the culture they are trying to influence Anything you can do to increase peoples confidence in their thoughts about your message will make it more effective as long as your arguments are strong and convincing The next section of the chapter discusses resisting persuasive messages Attitude inoculation refers to making people immune to attempts to change their attitudes by initially exposing them to small doses of the arguments against their positions Being alert to product placement can also aid in resisting persuasive messages Products are often shown in television shows and movies They seem to be simply part of the show but they are really placed in these programs as advertisements One reason that product placement may be so successful is that people do not realize that someone is trying to influence their attitudes and behavior Warning people about an upcoming attempt to change their attitudes makes them less susceptible to that attempt Attitude inoculation has been used to help adolescents to resist pressure from peers to smoke It is important not to use too heavy a hand when trying to immunize people against assaults on their attitudes There is harm to administering strong prohibitionsthe stronger they are the more likely they will boomerang causing an increase in interest in the prohibited activity According to reactance theory people do not like to feel that their freedom to do or think whatever they want is being threatened When they feel that their freedom is threatened an unpleasant state of reactance is aroused and people can reduce this reactance by performing the threatened behavior The next section of the chapter addresses the question When will attitudes predict behavior The relationship between attitudes and behavior is not simple Attitudes will predict spontaneous behaviors only when they are highly accessible to people Attitude accessibility refers to the strength of167 Copyright2010 by Pearson Education inc All rights reserved
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