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 • 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 • 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) • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • The process of changing people’s attitude
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 • 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 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 • 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? • 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 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 • Mackie et al. (1990) • Participants: • UCSB students • DV:Persuasion • IV1: Type of Argument • IV2: College
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 • 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? • It depends… • How personally relevant is the message for the recipient?
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) • 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 (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
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
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
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 • How different is the message from the initial position? • Use the cautious approach
Fear appeals • Works when coupled with a solution to the problem
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? • 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??? • 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… • 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 • 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??? • 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 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 • 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 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 • Play a subtle but important role. • Individualistic vs. collectivistic messages
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… • 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 • Did she role play Tania?
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 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 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