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Chapter 6

Psychology 2070A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Implicit-Association Test, Chocolate Cake, Blood Donation

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Chapter 6: Attitudes and Social Behaviour
- Attitude: an individual’s evaluation of a target along a good-bad dimension
oCan be any identifiable aspect of the environment (person, object, group,
oAlways have a target
Three Aspects of Attitudes
E.g. how do you feel about cockroaches on the floor?
1. Emotional reactions (they are disgusting and make you feel sick)
2. Cognitive information (persistent pest that can spread disease)
3. Past behaviour (having an experience like killing one in the past)
- Targets that arouse negative feelings and emotions are more likely to generate
unfavourable attitudes than targets that arouse positive emotions
- Past behaviours influence attitudes, and current attitudes influence future behaviour
- Victoria Esses argued that attitudes towards some things depend mostly on people’s
feelings, while attitudes on other things depend on their beliefs and knowledge
oBlood donation (emotions; how scared are they) vs. controversial social issues
(knowledge & beliefs)
- Usually people’s feelings, beliefs, and past actions are pretty consistent
- Ambivalent attitudes: attitudes containing conflicting elements
oE.g. chocolate cake- you love the taste but you know it’s bad for you
oAmbivalent attitudes can lead to inconsistent behaviour over time depending on
which type of element (+/-) is dominant in that particular situation
High in ambivalence will lead to varying behaviour, and low in ambivalence
will lead to consistent behaviour
Explicit Versus Implicit Attitudes
- Explicit attitudes: those that people can report consciously; you can report them
confidently on a self-report scale. E.g. you are aware that you like puppies and dislike
- Implicit attitudes: automatic evaluative response to a target, that can occur without

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- Bertram Gawronski argued that implicit attitudes are reflect “low-level” (minimal
processing) associations between objects and evaluations, whereas explicit attitudes
reflect “higher level” (higher level processing) evaluations that are based on rational
beliefs about the object and its features
- Implicit attitudes conform to explicit attitudes; cockroaches elicit an implicit negative
response that is consistent with our explicit negative attitude
- Perceptions of other people’s attitudes have two important dimensions
oLiberal vs. conservative
oTraditional vs. novel
Why Do We Evaluate?
- Object-appraisal function: a function of attitudes in which they provide a rapid assessment
of whether targets are likely to be harmful or helpful; most basic/the reason people have
- Values: standards/goals that people consider to be important, and a guiding principle in
their lives
oPeople sometimes adopt attitudes to express their underlying values
oE.g. religious people may adopt positions on gay marriage and birth control to
support to their faith
- Value-expressive function: where attitudes communicate individuals’ identity and values
oE.g. teens can get into heavy metals to fit in with a peer group and dissociate from
their parents
- STUDY: Sharon Shavitt; on the functions of attitudes
oAttitudes towards coffee (object) and perfume (value)
oStudy 1: people were asked to write their thoughts on the objects; proved her
hypothesis- when people describes object-appraisal attitude they talked about the
features of the object whereas the value-expressive, people talked about their
values, and identity, and what it communicated to others
oStudy 2: made 2 versions of advertisements; proved that advertisements are more
effective when they are consistent with the function fulfilled by the attitude: object-
appraisal responds to information about the rewards, whereas value-expressive
responded to information about the image
Measuring Attitudes
- Self-report measures
oLikert-type scales: respondents read several statements, each of which express a
clear position (pro or con) toward a target, and indicate the extent of their
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