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Social Psychology. Attitudes – Chapter 6 October 22, 2004 Class #8. What is an Attitude?. A positive, negative, or mixed evaluation of a person, object, or idea expressed at some level of intensity. How Attitudes Are Measured: Self-Report Measures. Attitude Scale

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social psychology

Social Psychology

Attitudes – Chapter 6

October 22, 2004

Class #8

what is an attitude
What is an Attitude?
  • A positive, negative, or mixed evaluation of a person, object, or idea expressed at some level of intensity
how attitudes are measured self report measures
How Attitudes Are Measured: Self-Report Measures
  • Attitude Scale
    • A multiple-item questionnaire designed to measure a person’s attitude toward some object
      • Ex: Likert Scale
  • Bogus Pipeline
    • An experimental paradigm
    • A phony lie-detector device that is sometimes used to get respondents to give truthfulanswers to sensitive questions
    • Helps control for social desirability
how attitudes are measured covert measures
How Attitudes Are Measured: Covert Measures
  • Observable behavior
    • Facial Electromyograph (EMG)
      • An electronic instrument that records facial muscle activity associated with emotions and attitudes
how attitudes are measured the implicit association test iat
How Attitudes Are Measured: The Implicit Association Test (IAT)
  • Based on notion that we have implicit attitudes
    • Attitudes that one is not aware of having
  • Implicit Association Test (IAT)
    • Measures the speed with which one responds to pairings of concepts
the link between attitudes and behavior
The Link Between Attitudes and Behavior
  • Is the assumption that attitudes influence behavior a valid one?
    • LaPiere’s (1934) provocative but flawed study
    • Wicker’s (1969) conclusion that attitudes and behavior are only weakly correlated
  • Kraus (1995): “Attitudes significantly and substantially predict future behavior”
strength of the attitude
Strength of the Attitude
  • Why do some attitudes have more influence on behavior?
    • Depends on attitude’s importance or strength
  • Why are some attitudes stronger than others?
    • Because of our genetic make-up?
psychological factors influencing attitude strength
Psychological Factors Influencing Attitude Strength
  • Does it directly affect one’s own outcomes and self-interests?
  • Is it related to deeply held philosophical, political, and religious values?
  • Is it of concern to one’s close friends, family, and social in-groups?
factors that indicate the strength of an attitude
Factors That Indicate the Strength of an Attitude
  • How well informed is the person?
  • How was the information on which the attitude is based acquired?
  • Has the attitude been attacked?
  • How accessible is the attitude to awareness?
persuasion
Persuasion
  • The process of changing people’s attitude
two routes to persuasion
Two Routes to Persuasion
  • Central Route
    • Person thinks carefully about a message
    • Influenced by the strength and quality of the message
  • Peripheral Route
    • Person does not think critically about the contents of a message
    • Influenced by superficial cues
the central route
The Central Route
  • Hovland et al. (1949)
    • Persuaded when we attend to, comprehend, and retain in memory an argument.
  • McGuire (1968)
    • Distinguished between the reception of a message and its later acceptance.
  • Greenwald (1968)
    • Elaboration is an important, intermediate step
      • Thoughts that are generated in response to the message
      • Favorable thoughts lead to attitude change
the central route14
The Central Route
  • Assumption that the recipients are attentive, active, critical, and thoughtful
    • Assumption is correct only some of the time
    • When it is correct, the persuasiveness of the message depends on the strength of the message’s content
  • The central route is a thoughtful process
    • But not necessarily an objective one
the peripheral route
The Peripheral Route
  • People are persuaded on the basis of superficial, peripheral cues
    • Message is evaluated through the use of simple-minded heuristics
  • People are also influenced by attitude-irrelevant factors
what makes an effective source
What Makes an Effective Source?
  • Believable sources must be credible sources
  • To be seen as credible, the source must have two distinct characteristics:
    • Competence or expertise
    • Trustworthiness
      • People are convincing when they appear to be arguing against their own self-interest
what makes an effective source18
What Makes an Effective Source?
  • How likable is the communicator?
  • Two factors influence a source’s likability:
    • The similarity between the source and the audience
    • The physical attractiveness of the source
likability
Likability
  • Mackie et al. (1990)
    • Participants:
      • UCSB students
    • DV:Persuasion
    • IV1: Type of Argument
    • IV2: College
this supermodel can get you to become a vegetarian
This supermodel can get you to become a vegetarian…
  • Chaiken (1979)
    • DV: Persuasion (signing petition)
    • IV: Attractiveness of student assistant
    • Results:
      • See next slide
the sleeper effect
The Sleeper Effect
  • Source Amnesia
    • As time passes, people tend to forget the source of a message
    • Consequently, effects of the speaker tend to disappear over time
      • Unless people are reminded of the source
is the source more important than the message
Is The Source More Important Than The Message?
  • It depends…
    • How personally relevant is the message for the recipient?
the effects of personal relevance
The Effects of Personal Relevance
  • Petty & Cacioppo (1984)
    • Asked college students to read arguments in favor of mandatory comprehensive exams
    • Students would be required to pass these exams before being allowed to graduate
petty cacioppo 1984
Petty & Cacioppo (1984)
  • Issue was either highly relevant to them
    • They would personally have to take the exams to graduate
  • Or of low relevance to them
    • Policy would not take effect for 10 years – long after they’d graduated
petty cacioppo 198427
Petty & Cacioppo (1984)
  • Arguments were either high quality
    • “Average starting salaries are higher for graduates of schools with exams”
  • Or low quality
    • “Exams would allow students to compare performance with other schools”
  • Some students heard only 3 arguments
  • Others heard 9 arguments
slide28

High

Low

Argument

Quality

Personal Relevance

Personal Relevance

High

Low

For students with a personal stake, more strong arguments were more convincing

12

10

Attitude Toward Exams

8

6

4

2

0

3

9

3

9

Number of Arguments

slide29

But more weak arguments left them less convinced

High

Low

Argument

Quality

Personal Relevance

Personal Relevance

High

Low

12

10

Attitude Toward Exams

8

6

4

2

0

3

9

3

9

Number of Arguments

slide30

Students who wouldn’t be affected didn’t process quality

High

Low

Argument

Quality

Personal Relevance

Personal Relevance

High

Low

12

10

8

Attitude Toward Exams

6

4

2

0

3

9

3

9

Number of Arguments

discrepancy
Discrepancy
  • How different is the message from the initial position?
    • Use the cautious approach
fear appeals
Fear appeals
  • Works when coupled with a solution to the problem
slide33
Mood
  • Are appeals to positive emotions effective?
    • People are “soft touches” when they are in a good mood.
      • Janis et al. (1965)
        • Peanuts and Pepsi experiment 
why might positive feelings activate the peripheral route
Why Might Positive Feelings Activate the Peripheral Route?
  • A positive emotional state is cognitively distracting, impairing ability to think critically
  • When in a good mood, assume all is well and become lazy processors of information
  • When happy, become motivated not to spoil the mood by thinking critically about new information
what happens when the expert meets your friend
What happens when the “expert” meets your friend???
  • Experts are more influential when the information is about facts  
  • Similar others are more influential when the information is about opinions  
some conclusions regarding persuasion
Some conclusions regarding persuasion…
  • If strong arguments are available….
    • provide many
    • repeat a few times
    • ensure appropriate prior knowledge
    • emphasise personal relevance
    • ensure distraction-free presentation
  • If not…..
    • distract receivers
    • source credibility
subliminal persuasion
Subliminal Persuasion
  • Can subliminal messages influence behavior?
    • Ex:
      • Coke and Popcorn (1957)
      • Rats (2000)
  • We do perceive subliminal cues…
    • But the cues will not persuade us to take action unless we are already motivated to do so
      • At least that’s what psychologists say
      • Advertisers differ
do they use this at walmart
Do they use this at Walmart???
  • Time magazine (1984)
    • 50 department stores in the U.S. and Canada installed a device in attempts to reduce shoplifting and employee theft
    • One undisclosed East Coast chain is said to have cut the number of thefts by 37%, for a savings of $600,000, during a nine-month trial
    • Behind the background music played in stores, there's a subliminal anti-theft message, "I am honest, I will not steal," being played 9,000 times an hour
subliminal persuasion40
Subliminal Persuasion
  • It appears that regular messages are more effective at persuading us than subliminal messages  
  • Interestingly, however, people are more afraid of subliminal messages than regular messages
audience factors
Audience Factors
  • Very few people are consistently easy or difficult to persuade
  • People differ in extent to which become involved and take the central route
    • Need for Cognition: How much does one enjoy effortful cognitive activities?
audience factors42
Audience Factors
  • Synder and DeBono (1985)
    • Felt that high self-monitors could be easily influenced by ads bringing attention to them
      • DV: Persuasion
      • IV1: self-monitoring type
      • IV2: imagery used
cultural factors
Cultural factors
  • Play a subtle but important role.
    • Individualistic vs. collectivistic messages
audience factors44
Audience Factors
  • Has the audience been forewarned?
    • Advanced knowledge allows time to develop counterarguments
      • Inoculation hypothesis
    • Being forewarned elicits a motivational reaction
      • Psychological reactance
    • Effects of forewarning depends on personal importance of message
persuasion by our own actions
Persuasion by our own actions…
  • Role Playing: All the World’s a Stage
    • What happens when we engage in attitude-discrepant behavior?
    • Why does role-playing lead to enduring attitude change?
    • Why can changes in behavior lead to changes in attitude?
case study patty hearst
Case Study: Patty Hearst
  • Did she role play Tania?
cognitive dissonance theory
Cognitive Dissonance Theory
  • Inconsistent cognitions arouse psychological tension that people become motivated to reduce
    • The unpleasant state of psychological arousal resulting from an inconsistency within one's important attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors
    • We are motivated by a desire for cognitive consistency.
    • Can lead to irrational and sometimes maladaptive behavior.
cognitive dissonance theory49
Cognitive Dissonance Theory
  • Festinger and Carlsmith (1959)
    • Perform an excruciatingly boring task – turning pegs in holes
    • Lie to a waiting “participant” (really a confederate), telling them the study is fun & exciting
    • Offered $1 or $20 to lie
    • $20 justifies lying; no dissonance
    • $1 insufficient justification for lying; great dissonance
cognitive dissonance theory50
Cognitive Dissonance Theory
  • When later asked their attitudes toward the boring task:
  • Those receiving $1 payment had come to see it as more enjoyable,
  • Those receiving $20 hadn't changed their attitudes at all
cognitive dissonance theory51
Cognitive Dissonance Theory
  • Why? Dissonance theory explains:
    • $20 provided adequate justification for misleading another student
    • $1 was insufficient justification, thus arousing dissonance
    • Changing beliefs about the task reduced the cognitive discomfort
justifying attitude discrepant behavior
Justifying Attitude-Discrepant Behavior
  • Subjects experienced cognitive dissonance because had insufficient justification for lying
  • Contributions of Festinger & Carlsmith’s classic study:
    • Showed the phenomenon of self-persuasion
    • Contradicted the accepted belief that big rewards produce greater change
cognitive dissonance theory53
Cognitive Dissonance Theory
  • Postdecisional Dissonance
    • The conflict one feels between the knowledge that he or she has made a decision and the possibility that the decision may be wrong
  • Knox & Inkster (1968)
    • Just seconds after placing a bet, gamblers are more confident their horse will win
justifying attitude discrepant behavior54
Justifying Attitude-Discrepant Behavior
  • Mild punishment is insufficient deterrence for attitude-discrepant nonbehavior
    • The less severe the threatened punishment, the greater the attitude change produced
justifying effort coming to like what we suffer for
Justifying Effort: Coming to Like What We Suffer For
  • We alter our attitudes to justify our suffering
  • The more we pay for something, the more we will come to like it
  • Aronson & Mills’ (1959) “embarrassment test” study
aronson mills 1959
Aronson & Mills’ (1959)
  • Participants had to pass an “embarrassment test” concerning discussions on sex
  • Procedures: Listened to boring discussion on sexual behavior of animals
  • Those that had to undergo toughest tests rated this the most favorably
justifying difficult decisions when good choices get even better
Justifying Difficult Decisions: When Good Choices Get Even Better
  • Whenever we make difficult decisions, we feel dissonance.
  • We rationalize the correctness of our decision by exaggerating:
    • The positive features of the chosen alternative
    • The negative features of the unchosen alternative.
alternative routes to self persuasion
Alternative Routes to Self-Persuasion
  • Self-Perception Theory
    • Self-persuasion through observation of own behavior
  • Impression Management Theory
    • What matters is not a motive to be consistent but rather a motive to appear consistent
  • Self-Affirmation Theory
    • Dissonance situations create a threat to the self
when self affirmation fails
When Self-Affirmation Fails

Galinsky et al., 2000.