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Chapter 6

Psychology 2720A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Blood Donation, Psych, Heritability

Course Code
Richard Sorrentino

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Psych 2720A
Chapter 6: Attitudes and Social Behaviour
What Are Attitudes?
Jeff Keller, president of Attitude is Everything Inc. says that success is a matter of
having a positive attitude
a general perspective on life, an outlook that can be positive or negative
Attitudes: Evaluations of Targets
attitude: an individualʼs evaluation of a target along a good-bad dimension
target can be an object, an issue, a person, a group, a behaviour or any other
identifiable aspect of the environment
as it is an evaluation, an attitude is a good-bad judgement
represents the individualʼs overall assessment of whether a particular target is
positive or negative
attitudes cannot be seen directly, so researchers must infer attitudes from
individualʼs observable responses
attitudeʼs target could be absolutely anything
Three Parts of Attitudes
attitudes can come from sources: emotional reactions, cognitive information, and past
your previous knowledge is influenced by experiences and what people say to us
whether an individual evaluates a target positively or negatively will depend on 3
how the object makes the person feel (affect)
the personʼs beliefs about the object (cognition)
personʼs previous actions toward the object (past behaviour)
two-way relation between attitudes and behaviour
previous behaviour can contribute to individualʼs current attitude
current attitudes also influence future behaviour
attitudes of certain targets depend mostly on peopleʼs feelings whereas attitudes
towards other targets depend mostly on peopleʼs general knowledge and beliefs
ie. attitudes towards blood donation focus on how each person feels about
donating blood and attitudes towards controversial social issues such as racism
are mostly dependent on general knowledge or beliefs
most of the time, attitudes contain conflicting elements (both positive and negative
elements) that are called ambivalent attitudes
the fact that our attitudes are ambivalent is the very nature of our behaviourʼs
attitudes that are low in ambivalence (all positive or all negative elements) will not
produce variable responses
Explicit vs Implicit Attitudes
explicit attitude: evaluations that people can repeat consciously

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implicit attitude: automatic evaluative responses to a target, which may occur without
spontaneous and immediate judgement
automatic processes (cannot be controlled)
implicit attitudes conform to explicit attitudes - inconsistency between the two is
very common as well
Perception of Othersʼ Attitudes
two dimensions are important into the structure to peopleʼs perception of othersʼ
liberal vs. conservative
traditional vs. novel (radical)
Why Do We Evaluate?
recognition is not very informative unless the memory system also triggers some sort
of evaluation of the object
individual needs to determine whether the object in the past had been useful or not
Assessing Objects
object-appraisal function: a function of attitudes in which attitudes provide rapid
evaluative judgements of targets, facilitating approach or avoidance
quick assessment (appraisal) of whether targets are likely to be helpful or hurtful
fundamental goal of object appraisal can be served by simple, affective responses that
do not rely on complex recognition
Expressing Values
values: broad, abstract standards or goals that people consider to be important
guiding principles in their life
ie. freedom, equality, happiness
peopleʼs values are related to their attitudes towards specific issues
value-expressive function: a function of attitudes in which attitudes communicate
individualsʼ identity and values
allow people to convey an identity that connects them to some groups and makes
them distinct from other groups
Testing the Functions of Attitudes
how can you tell if an attitude serves an object-appraisal function or a value-
expressive function? (study by Shavitt)
look at attitudes in coffee and perfume
attitudes about coffee generally tend to be object-appraisal function - people tend
to like or dislike the taste of coffee
attitudes about perfumes generally tend to be value-expressive function - people
ted to buy perfumes that celebrities wear that they identify with
when advertising, object-appraisal function objects such as coffee should emphasize
the rewards or the advantages that one receives from coffee

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when advertising for value-expressive attitude, most effective strategy should
emphasize the desirable impression one can obtain
advertisements are more effective when they were consistent with the function fulfilled
by the attitude: object-appraisal attitudes responses to information about rewards and
value-expressive attitudes responded to information about image and identity
Measuring Attitudes
donʼt forget concept of validity and reliability
Self-Report Measures of Attitudes
self-report measures and questionnaires and surveys are usually used
Likert-Type Scales: an attitude measurement technique that requires respondents to
indicate the extent of their agreement or disagreement with several statements on an
participants read a list of statements and they have to rank them whether they
strongly agree, agree, undecided, disagree, or strongly disagree with them (scale
of 1-5)
higher numbers reflect the same direction of attitudes
sum of the scores would represent their attitude score
easy to construct and are clear/simple to complete
Semantic Differential Scales: an attitude measurement technique that requires
respondents to rate a target on several evaluative dimensions (such as good-bad and
the object of target is indicated at the top of the page and below them will indicate
a bunch of words one has to choose from each dimensions
in between each words, participants have to mark an X on the scale from 1-5
Opinion Surveys
usually for larger populations
most opinion surveys contain one or two items on a particular issue and responses
are often limited to yes or no answers
useful for gathering information about public opinion
Problems with Self-Report Measures
all of the self-report techniques have two assumptions in common:
people know what their attitudes are
they will report these attitudes honestly
cannot use self-report measures if one wants to measure implicit attitudes
cannot stop socially-desirable responding
typically do not yield a clear and easy way to measure the ambivalence (containing
positive and negative aspects) of an individualʼs attitude
to measure ambivalence, some researchers have asked respondents to rate
the target object on both positive scales and negative scales separately
Nonverbal Measures of Attitudes
nonverbal measures of attitudes provide better assessments of peopleʼs implicit
may include behavioural measures, physiological measures, and implicit measures
Behavioural Measures
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