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Chapter 4

PS270 Chapter 4 Notes.docx

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Christine Zaza

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Chapter 4 – Behaviour and Attitudes - Our private beliefs and feelings determine our public behaviour, so if we wish to change behaviour we must first change hearts and minds - Extreme attitudes can produce extreme behaviour - Changing people’s attitudes hardly affects their behaviour - The attitude-behaviour relation works the other way around - ‘very well trained and very good at finding reasons for what we do, but not very good at doing what we find reasons for’ - Favourable or unfavourable evaluative reactions toward something – often rooted in beliefs and exhibited in feelings and inclinations to act – define a person’s attitude - Attitude – a favourable or unfavourable evaluative reaction toward something or someone, exhibited in one’s beliefs, feelings, or intended behaviour - A person may have a negative attitude toward coffee, a neutral attitude toward the French, and a positive attitude toward their neighbour - Attitudes provide an efficient way to size up the world - When we have to respond quickly to something, how we feel about it can guide how we react - Three dimensions as the ABCs of attitudes o Affect (feelings) o Behaviour tendency o Cognition (thoughts) - People’s expressed attitudes hardly predicted their varying behaviours - ‘Moral hypocrisy’ – appearing moral without being so - If people don’t walk the same line that they talk, it’s little wonder that attempts to change behaviour by changing attitudes often fail - The developing picture of what controls behaviour emphasized external social influences, such as others’ behaviour and expectations, and played down internal factors, such as attitudes and personality - What people say often differs from what they do - The reason why our behaviour and our expressed attitudes differ is that both are subject to other influences - Our attitudes to predict our behaviour when these other influences on what we say and do are minimal, when the attitude is specific to the behaviour, and when the attitude is potent - Like other behaviours, expressions are subject to outside influences - Social psychologists have clever means at their disposal for minimizing social influences on people’s attitude reports o Some of these complement traditional self-report measures of explicit (conscious) attitudes measure of implicit (unconscious) attitudes o One such test measures facial muscle responses to various statements o Those measurements can reveal enough of a microsmile or a microfown to indicate the participant’s attitude about a given statement - Implicit Association Test (IAT) – a computer-driven assessment of implicit attitudes o The test uses reaction times to measure people’s automatic associations between attitude objects and evaluative words o Easier pairings (and faster responses) are taken to indicate stronger unconscious associations - Explicit (self-report) and implicit attitudes both help predict people’s behaviours and judgments o Thus, explicit and implicit attitudes may together predict behaviour better than either alone - For attitudes formed early in life, such as racial and gender attitudes, implicit and explicit attitudes frequently diverge, with implicit attitudes often being the better predictor of behaviour o Implicit racial attitudes have successfully predicted interracial roommate relationships o For other attitudes, such as those related to consumer behaviour and support for political candidates, explicit self-reports are the better predictor - One area in the brain (the amygdale, a center for threat perception) is active as we automatically evaluate social stimuli - Other frontal lobe areas are involved in detecting and regulating implicit attitudes - The IAT has detractors - The IAT is not reliable enough for use in assessing and comparing individuals o A score that suggests some relative bias doesn’t distinguish a positive bias for one group from a bias against another - The existence of distinct explicit and implicit attitudes confirms: our ‘dual processing’ capacity for both controlled (deliberate, conscious, explicit) and automatic (effortless, habitual, implicit) thinking - Social influence can be enormous – enormous enough to induce people to violate their deepest convictions - Predicting people’s behaviour is like predicting a baseball or cricket player’s hitting o The outcome of any particular time at bat is nearly impossible to predict, because it is affected not only by the batter but also by what the pitcher throws and by chance factors o When we aggregate many times at bat, we neutralize these complicating factors o Knowing the players, we can predict their approximate batting averages - The findings define a principle of aggregation – the effects of an attitude on behaviour become more apparent when we look at a person’s aggregate or average behaviour rather than at isolated acts - When the measured attitude is general and the behaviour is very specific, we should not expect a close correspondence between words and actions - Attitudes do predict behaviour - Attitudes toward the general concept of ‘health fitness’ poorly predict specific exercise and dietary practices - ‘Theory of planned behaviour’ is knowing people’s intended behaviours and their perceived self- efficacy and control - Even simply asking people about their intentions to engage in a behaviour increases the likelihood - Specific relevant attitudes do predict intended and actual behaviour - To change habits through persuasion, we had best alter people’s attitudes toward specific practices - Two conditions under which attitudes will predict behaviour 1. When we minimize other influences on our attitude statements and our behaviour 2. When the attitude is specifically relevant to the observed behaviour - There is a third condition: an attitude predicts behaviour better when it is potent (strong and brought to mind) - Much of our behaviour is automatic o We act our familiar scripts without reflecting on what we’re doing - Such mindless reaction is adaptive o For habitual behaviours (seat belt use, coffee consumption, class attendance – conscious intentions are hardly activated - People who take a few moments to review their past behaviour express attitudes that better predict their future behaviour o Our attitudes become potent if we think about them - Self-conscious people usually are in touch with their attitudes - Making people self-aware in this way (such as entering a room with a large mirror) promotes consistency between word and deeds o Mirrors bring behaviour into line with espoused moral attitudes - When attitudes are forged by experience, they are more accessible, more enduring, and more likely to guide actions - We are likely not only to think ourselves into a way of acting but also to act ourselves into a way of thinking - It’s true that we sometimes stand up for what we believe, but it’s also true that we come to believe in what we stand up for - Our attitudes follow our behaviour - Role – a set of norms that define how people in a given social position ought to behave - Norms – rules for accepted and expected behaviour o Norms prescribe ‘proper’ behaviour - When stepping into a new social role, we must perform its actions, even if we feel phony - Think of a time when you stepped into some new role – at such times, we feel self-conscious o We observe our new speech and actions because they aren’t natural to us o We notice that our sorority enthusiasm or our pseudo-intellectual talk no longer feels forced o The role has begun to fit as comfortably as our old jeans and t-shirt - The deeper less of role-playing studies concerns how what is unreal (an artificial role) can evolve into what is real - Our actions depend not only on the social situation but also on our dispositions - Some social situations can move most ‘normal’ people to behave in ‘abnormal’ ways o This is clear from experiments that put well-intentioned people in a bad situation to see whether good or evil prevails o To a dismaying extent, evil wins – nice guys often don’t finish nice - One prominent role given to us by our society is our gender - Gender socialization gives girls ‘roots’ and boys ‘wings’ o Girls have four times more often than boys been shown using household objects and vice versa for the boys - Gender Role – a set of behaviour expectations (norms) for males and females o Our gender roles can shape our actions - People often adapt what they say to please their listeners o They are quicker to tell people good news than bad, and they adjust their message toward the listener’s position - They begin to believe what they are saying – provided they weren’t bribed or coerced into dong so o When there is no compelling external explanation for one’s words, saying becomes believing - It seems that we are prone to adjust our messages to our listeners, and having done so, to believe the altered message - Foot-in-the-Door Phenomenon – the tendency for people who have first agreed to a small request to comply later with a largest request - When people commit themselves to public behaviours and perceive these acts to be their own doing, they come to believe more strongly in what they have done - Low-Ball Technique – a tactic for getting people to agree to something o People who agree to an initial request will often still comply when the requester ups the ante o People who receive only the costly request are less likely to comply with it o This is a tactic normally used by some car dealers - A harmless initial commitment often moves us toward a larger commitment - The attitudes-follow behaviour principle works with more immortal acts as well - Evil sometimes results from gradually escalating commitments - A trifling evil act can make a worse act easier - It is not as difficult to find a person who has never succumbed to a given temptation as to find a person who has succumbed only once o After telling a ‘white lie’ and thinking ‘well that wasn’t so bad’ – you may go on to tell a bigger lie - Another way in which evil acts influence attitudes is the paradoxical fact that we tend not only to hurt those we dislike but also to dislike those we hurt - When we voluntarily agree to do a deed, we take more responsibility for it - Attitudes also follow behaviour in peacetime - Actions and attitudes feed each other, sometimes to the point of moral numbness o The more one harms another and adjusts one’s attitudes, the easier harm-doing becomes o Conscience is corroded - Harmful acts shape the self but so do moral acts o Character is reflected in what we do when we think no one is looking - When children resist the temptation, they internalize the conscientious act if the deterrent is strong enough to elicit the desired behaviour yet mild enough to leave them with a sense of choice - Moral action, especially when chosen rather than coerced, affects moral thinking - Laws and rules that require moral conduct can lead to genuine moral beliefs - If we wait for the heart to change (through preaching and teaching) we will wait a long time o But if we legislate moral action, we can, under the right conditions, indirectly affect heartfelt attitudes o The idea runs counter to the presumption that ‘you can’t legislate morality’ yet attitude change has followed changes in laws - Laws do not always lead to the adoption of consistent attitudes o People’s attitudes follow their behaviours even when these behaviours are required - Positive behaviour toward someone fosters liking for that person o Doing a favour for an experimenter or another subject, or tutoring a student, usually increases liking of the person helped o If you wish to love someone more, act as if you do - But a danger lies in the possibility of employing the same idea for political socialization on a mass scale o The public greeting ‘Heil Hitler’ established a profound inconsistency between behaviour and belief - Political rituals use public conformity to build a private belief in patriotism - Their actions expressed an idea whose time had come and drove tha
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