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Chapter 6

Chapter 6

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Department
Psychology
Course Code
Psychology 2070A/B
Professor
o

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Chapter 6: Attitudes and Social Behaviour - Attitude: an individual’s evaluation of a target along a good-bad dimension o Can be any identifiable aspect of the environment (person, object, group, behaviour..) o Always 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 o Blood 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 o E.g. chocolate cake- you love the taste but you know it’s bad for you o Ambivalent 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 cockroaches - Implicit attitudes: automatic evaluative response to a target, that can occur without awareness - 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 o Liberal vs. conservative o Traditional 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 attitudes - Values: standards/goals that people consider to be important, and a guiding principle in their lives o People sometimes adopt attitudes to express their underlying values o E.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 o E.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 o Attitudes towards coffee (object) and perfume (value) o Study 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 o Study 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 o Likert-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 agreement or disagreement with each item. They are easy to construct and produce reliable scores o Sematic differential scales: respondents rate attitudes on several evaluative dimensions such as “good-bad”, “favourable-unfavourable”, “effective-ineffective”, “fair-not fair”, with the target written at the top of the page. They are also easy to construct and straight forward to complete. o Opinion surveys: designed to assess public opinion on an issue by asking 1-2 items on each issue with responses yes/no/undecided. They are useful in gathering information about public opinion, and sometimes to obtain a representative sample - Problems with self-report measures o Cannot be used for implicit attitudes o Assume that people know their attitudes, and that they will report them honestly o Don’t yield a clear way to measure ambivalence on an individual’s attitude Nonverbal Measures of Attitudes - Behavioural measures o Researchers use participants’ overt behaviours to infer their attitude towards an object  E.g. people’s willingness to approach a snake as a measure of their attitude o Advantage is that they are unobtrusive measures: don’t realize that their attitudes are being assessed o Disadvantage is that it’s hard to design a behavioural measure of an attitude - Physiological measures o Symptoms of arousal (heart rate, and blood pressure)  Indicate the intensity of feelings, but not distinguishing between +ive/-ive evaluations o Facial electromyography (facial EMG): measures muscle contractions in the face that may be sensitive to positive vs. negative responses to a stimulus o Hard to measure, and people can alter their facial expressions - Implicit measures o Implicit Association Test (IAT): a reaction time procedure where people are required to complete 2 sorting tasks as quickly as possible. The first must be sorted into the same category as some good objects, and the second bad. The one with the quicker response time reflects the person’s attitude towards that object How Do Attitudes Form? Affective Sources of Attitudes - Evaluative Conditioning: where objects come to evoke positive or negative affect simply by their association with the arousal-inducing event o E.g. you like a song because it was playing when you met your partner, or you don’t like a show because that’s what you were watching when you received bad news o Classic example: Pavlov’s work with dogs; ringing of the bell caused them to salivate after being conditioned that the bell is followed by food o STUDY: people were shown real and nonwords with conjunction with electric shock. Both were rated much more unpleasant when they were associated with shock then when they were not - Mere Exposure Effect: exposure to an object generally leads to a more favourable attitude towards it, especially for novel objects o When we get to know something, we beco
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