Psychology 2070A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Rensis Likert, Gordon Allport, Implicit-Association Test

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13 Nov 2012
Chapter Six Attitudes and Social Behaviour
Attitudes were the most indispensible concept in social psychology Gordon Allport
What Are Attitudes?
Attitude general perspective on life, an outlook that can be positive (leading to success) or
negative (leading to failure)
Attitudes: Evaluations of Targets
Attitude an individual’s evaluation of a target
Good-bad judgement: individual’s overall assessment of whether a particular
target is positive or negative
Cannot be seen directly
Attitudes always have a target directed at something
Three Parts of Attitudes
Attitudes can come from sources: emotional reactions, cognitive information, and past
Whether an individual evaluates a target positively or negatively will depend on three
o How the object makes the person feel
o The person’s beliefs about the object
o Person’s previous actions towards the object
Two-way behaviour
o Attitudes cause behaviour
o Past behaviours influence current attitudes
o Current attitudes influence future behaviour
Previous behaviour toward a target may contribute to an individual’s current attitude
towards a target
People’s feelings, beliefs, and past actions toward a target are reasonably consistent
either negative or positive
o Can have a mix of positive or negative feelings and beliefs
Ambivalent attitudes evaluations of targets that include both positive and negative
Loves the taste of chocolate cake but knows that it is high in calories
and fat
Respect Sarah but know she can be selfish
o Can lead to different behaviours over time dominant element will drive
Explicit Versus Implicit Attitudes
Explicit attitudes those people can report consciously
o Ex. aware that you dislike cockroaches and like puppies
o High-level associations based on rational beliefs about the object and its
Implicit attitudes individual’s automatic evaluative response to a target, which can
occur without awareness
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o Spontaneous, immediate, good-bad response to the target at a subconscious
o Type of automatic process
o Low-level associations between objects and evaluations
Implicit conform to explicit
o Ex. cockroaches elicit an implicit negative response that is consistent with our
explicit negative attitude
Perceptions of Others’ Attitudes
Common structure to people’s perceptions of others’ attitudes
Two dimensions: liberal vs. conservative and traditional versus novel
o Fundamental in perceptions of others’ attitudes
Why Do We Evaluate?
Assessing Objects
Object-appraisal function function of attitudes in which attitudes provide rapid
evaluative judgments of targets, facilitating approach or avoidance
o Quick assessment of targets
o Most basic function of attitudes reason why humans form attitudes
Expressing Values
Values broad, abstract standards or goals that people consider to be important guiding
principles in their life
o Ex. freedom, equality, happiness
o Ex. teenagers wearing specific clothing to show commitment to group (GOTHS)
Value-expressive function a function of attitudes in which attitudes communicate
individuals’ identity and values
o Allow people to convey an identity that connects them to some group and
makes them distinct from other groups
o Ex. teenagers embrace in heavy metal to associate themselves with a peer
group and dissociate themselves from their parents
Testing the Functions of Attitudes
Attitude towards coffee object-appraisal
o Responded to information about rewards
Attitude towards perfume value-appraisal
o Responded to information about image
Measuring Attitudes
Validity measure actually assesses what it is supposed to assess
Reliability participants’ scores on the measure are stable and free from extraneous variables
Self-Report Measures of Attitude
An attitude- individual’s evaluation of a target: his or her judgment of an object, issue,
or person on a ‘good-bad’ dimension
Directly report their evaluations
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Three common self-report techniques
Likert-Type Scales (most used)
Rensis Likert
Likert-type scales an attitude measurement technique that requires
respondents to indicate the extent of their agreement or disagreement with
several statements on an issue
o Each statement expresses a clear position (pro or con) on an issue or a
clear attitude (favourable or unfavourable) toward a target
Make sure all the items are valid reflections of the target attitude
o Easy for researchers to construct
o Are clear and simple for respondents to complete
o Produce reliable scores
Semantic Differential Scales
Semantic Differential Scale an attitude measurement technique that requires
respondents to rate a target on several evaluative dimensions (such as good-
bad and favourable-unfavourable)
o Easy to construct
o Straightforward to complete
Assess evaluations very directly participants rate the attitude object on
dimensions that are explicitly evaluative
Opinion Surveys
Designed to assess public opinion about an issue, event, or group
Sometimes want a representative sample of a population or just a ‘snippet’ of
public opinion
Contains two items on particular issue, with yes or no responses
Useful in gathering information about public opinion
Problem with Self-Report Measures
Self-report techniques rest on two assumptions
o People know what their attitudes are
o Report those attitudes honestly
Want implicit attitudes cannot use these methods
Sometimes a position on an issue is more socially desirable than others
o People will shift their answers on attitude scales towards a socially
desirable response
o This reduces the accuracy of the measure of attitudes
These measures do not yield a clear and easy way to measure the ambivalence
of an individual’s attitude
o Measures only yield a single, overall score to represent the attitude
o To measure: can rate the target on both positive and negative scales
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