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ATTITUDE CHANGE. Overview. Attitude-behaviour problem: how do internal mental activities relate to overt behaviour? ( attitude – behaviour relations ) To what degree our are attitudes internally organised? Why do so many people share similar attitudes on particular issues?. Research strands.

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overview
Overview
  • Attitude-behaviour problem: how do internal mental activities relate to overt behaviour? (attitude–behaviour relations)
  • To what degree our are attitudes internally organised?
  • Why do so many people share similar attitudes on particular issues?
research strands
Research strands
  • Early phase 40’s-50’s: interest in attitude change & empirical research on persuasive communication
  • 60’s-70’s: focus on attitude organization in terms of maintenance of cognitive consistency (e.g., dissonance theory)
  • 80’s-90’s: back to attitude change, more general theories (e.g., ELM, HSM)
moderator variables
Moderator variables:

Under what conditions do what kinds of attitudes of what kinds of individuals predict what kinds of behaviour?

Situational moderators; attitudinal qualities; personal moderators, individual differences; behavioural properties…

three components
Three components
  • Thoughts (information)
  • Feelings (classical conditioning)
  • Actions (instrumental conditioning/ modelling)

Can we change attitudes by changing these components?

slide6
Attitudes changed by persuasive mechanisms (central/peripheral)
  • Attitudes also changed on foot of changing behaviour
    • Counter-attitudinal advocacy
    • Cognitive dissonance/Self-perception theory
thoughts
Thoughts

Changed by persuasive communications (i.e., new information)

  • What qualities makes a communication persuasive?
  • How does persuasion occur?
  • When do people resist persuasive communications?
qualities of communication
Qualities of communication

Three important factors:

  • Source
  • Content
  • Audience
how does persuasion occur by what psychological mechanisms do attitudes guide behaviour
How does persuasion occur? By what psychological mechanisms do attitudes guide behaviour?

Two Dual Process models of persuasion (drawn from memory research - Depth of Processing)

  • Petty & Cacioppo 1981 Elaboration-Likelihood Model ELM
  • Chaiken 1980 Heuristic Systematic Model HSM

Deliberative (reasoned action, planned behaviour models) vs. automatic processing modes

slide12
2 routes
  • Peripheral, relatively spontaneous
    • resultant attitude change = temporary, unlikely to predict behaviour, susceptible to further change
  • Central, relatively deliberate
    • resultant attitude change = relatively permanent, likely to predict behaviour, resistant to further change
when do people resist
When do people resist?
  • When forewarned, psychological reactance
  • When innoculated by previous success in counterarguing persuasive communications
  • When high need for ‘cognitive closure’
  • When use Defensive strategies(e.g., Denial; Bolstering; Differentiation; Transference)
feelings
Feelings

Classically conditioned by repeated association of attitude object with positive or negative events.

Peripheral route

slide15
2 ways to change people’s attitude feelings:
  • Put people in a good mood
  • Classically condition the attitude

Do feelings ever change without thought?

Conditioning without awareness

  • Mere exposure
  • Match attitude change with attitude basis
actions
Actions

Changed through rewards & modelling

Induced compliance

  • If negatively aroused by inconsistency
  • Where no strong attitudes, infer thoughts/feelings from actions
cognitive dissonance theory
Cognitive Dissonance Theory

Festinger 1957

http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Festinger/

http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/index.htm

We change our attitudes to reduce the aversive arousal we experience when we have two cognitions or thoughts that contradict each other or are dissonant.

To change thoughts, get people to act counterattitudinally

circumstances when attitudes change because of cognitive disssonance
Circumstances when attitudes change because of cognitive disssonance
  • Postdecisional dissonance
  • Effort justification
  • Insufficient justification (Festinger & Carlsmith 1959)
  • Insufficient deterrence (Aronson & Carlsmith 1963)
attitude change occurs only when
Attitude change occurs only when:
  • There are aversive consequences to the action
  • Person assumes personal responsibility for causing those consequences
  • Person who performs action experiences aversive arousal that is attributed to action
  • Person has no attractive way to reduce arousal other than through attitude change
slide22
Do people infer their attitudes from their actions?
  • Self perception theory Bem 1967

People who do not have strong attitudes sometimes infer their thoughts and feelings from their own actions.

slide23
Attitudes change when people have such weak attitudes that counterattitudinal behaviour does not cause negative arousal.

Schachter & Singer 1962 ‘2 factor’ theory of emotion

attitude change occurs when
Attitude change occurs when:
  • The action is one that logically implies a corresponding attitude
  • People do not spontaneously remember what their attitude used to be and draw the same conclusion from their action as an uninvolved observer
  • People experience no physiological arousal that they need to explain
  • A previously attractive option becomes dictated by external controls
cognitive dissonance theory25
Cognitive Dissonance Theory

Some critics suggest actually testing:

  • Sociological mores not psychological laws
  • Not consistency but norms of conduct in which inconsistency looks bad
  • Impression management (Goffman 1959)
reading
Reading:

(Ch 6, Hogg & Vaughan) esp. Fazio & Cooper 1984

Chapter 4. Augoustinos, M., Walker, I. & Donaghue, N. (2006) (2nd ed.).Social Cognition. London: Sage.