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Chapter 12

Attitudes & Opinions - Chapter 12.docx

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Western University
Psychology 3721F/G
Cheung/ Maxwell

Chapter 12attitude behaviour consistency and related issues Attitudes and behaviourBecause attitudes are usually measured through a persons verbal report there is a likelihood that attitudes and actions often may not correspond The usefulness of the concept attitude depends largely on the empirical evidence regarding its relationship to behaviour Famous early study o When racial prejudice wasa high level in the US LaPiere traveled extensively with a foreign born Chinese couplein empirical manner he kept records on their acceptance and the quality of service they received o Attempted to vary conditions experimentally by having Chinese friends enter restauraunts first or do the negotiation for rooms o In 10000 miles of travel the party was served250 establishments and rejected at only one This was the attitude measure o To determine the establishments attitudes toward Chinese guests sent questionnaire askingwill you accept members of the Chinese race as guests in your establishment o Majority said no as result of major discrepancy LaPiere concluded that attitudes generally must be studied through observation of actual social behavior o There are major methodological problems involved which cause what we may term pseudo inconsistencyPseudo inconsistency o Situational thresholdsverbal attitude statements and the overt behavioural measures that are studied have quite different thresholds or levels of probability of occurrence o Analysis of PI applies to LaPiere study infamous inconsistency was probably primarily a matter of differences in situational thresholdsfor discrimination is much harder in the fac to face situation than in written abstract letter situation o Other methodological critquesIn phoning or sending questionnaires no certainty that the attitude measure was provided by the same person whose behaviour was earlier observedo Much of the alleged inconsistency in the attitudebehaviour research literature is actually pseudo inconsistencyMethodological improvements o several methodological refinements that have been shown to yield higher attiudebehaviour relationships o 2 are broader methods of measurement using a multiitem attitude scale instead of measurement by a single item using a behavioural criterion scale made up of several actions instead of just one o Another improvement is to measure attitudes towards a particular action rather than using the more traditional measure of attitudes toward a person or a whole category of persons o Most often cited improvement affecting attitudebehaviour correlations is to ensure compatibility in the level of measurement o Many of the early studies in this area correlated general attitudes with specific behaviour o Specific attitudes that are compatible with the behaviours being studied are more strongly associated witht hemo Lack of compatibility was a problem in LaPieres study o Further research on principle of compatibility indicated that it also applies to general measuresthat is a measure of general attitudes on given topic will usually correlate quite strongly with an aggregate measure of actions within a relevant class fo goal directed behaviours Explaining variations in attitudebehaviour consistency o History of research on attitudebehaviour consistency characterized as passing through 3 stages st 1 stage asked the Is questionis there a relation between the two nd 2 stage asked the when questionunder what conditions are certain attitudes related to certain behavioursStudies of this type identified many situational personality and attitudinal factors that moderated the attitudebhavioue relationship rd 3 stage asked the how questionexamines the processes by which attitudes guide behaviouro Main moderator variables that influence the relationshipmoderator is a variable that increases or decreases the strength of a relationship between 2 other variables 1 The attitude o The varialbes of certainty stability consistency and direct experience have all been found to influence when an attitude will predict a behaviour o Attitude certaintythe internal consistency of the attitude ie the extent to which the cognitive and affective components of the atttiudde are in agreementAn uncertain attitude is one that is ambivalent and typically not a good predictor of behaviour o Attitude stabilityinstability of attitudes and intentions over time can reduce the strength of the attitudebehaviour relationshipThe longer the time period between attitude measurement and behavioural observation the greater the chances of inconsistency o Direct personal experienceattitudes that are result of a direct encounter with the object tend to be better predictors of behaviour than do attitudes acquired through indirect experience
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