Attitude Measurement Carlos Torelli Lu Wang
Attitudes • Measuring the unobservable in order to predict behavior and to assess people’s responses to persuasion. • Attitude properties: • Evaluative • Strength (accessibility, ambivalence, certainty, etc.) • Cognitions vs. affect • Functions • Attitudes as systems interconnected with other systems. • Not all attitudes are created equal: Attitudes can be self-defining potential measurement issues.
Measuring Attitude • Ways to know another person’s attitude • Direct (Ask): • Structured vs. unstructured • One-item vs. multiple items (scales) • Indirect: • Observe reaction • Observe behavior • Judgmental biases • IAT (automatic evaluation/associations) • Physiological response • Personal Attitudes vs. Shared (General) Attitudes
Structured vs. Unstructured • Unstructured • Advantages: • Does not constrain people’s responses • Provide rich data • Especially useful during the early stages of investigating a particular issue • Structured • Advantages: • Easier for respondents to answer • Easier for researcher to score • Focus precisely on specific properties of the attitude
Single-Item Direct Measures: Example 1 • Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: “I think Elizabeth Almond’s mandatory recycling program is the best way in which to deal with Clarkton’s trash crisis”?
Single-Item Direct Measures: Example 1 • Potential problems: • Acquiescence bias • What is it? • Why does it occur? • How to deal with it?
Single-Item Direct Measures: Example 2 • Do you favor tax increase to pay for Clarkton’s garbage to be trucked to another county, or do you think that Elizabeth Almond’s mandatory recycling proposal is a good idea?
Single-Item Direct Measures: Example 2 • Potential problems: • Persuasive argument in favor of one point of view • What about people who do not agree with either point of view? • How to deal with these problems?
Single-Item Direct Measures: Example 4 • What is your opinion about the mandatory recycling proposal: Do you favor it, oppose it, or neither?
Single-Item Direct Measures: Example 4 • Potential problems: • Limited response alternatives • How to deal with it? • Scale with a large or small number of options • What is a moderate length?
Single-Item Direct Measures: Example 6 • How do you feel about proposed city Bylaw C6-L573?
Single-Item Direct Measures: Example 6 • Potential problems: • Knowledge problem • Social desirability effect • How to deal with it?
What about Multiple-Item Direct Measures? • Examples of Multiple-item measures • Thurstone equal-appearing intervals • Likert • Semantic Differentials • Conversation metaphor • Will respondents perceive multiple-item questions as trying to get at new information? • How should we deal with this problem?
What Will You Do? • Which method will you use if you are to measure attitude in your research area? • What are some of the criteria that help you make the choice? (e.g. how much time/resource do you have in constructing the measure?)
What About Indirect Measures? • What is an implicit attitude? • We have it but we don’t say it (i.e., editing) • We are not conscious we have it (i.e., automatic evaluation) • What does the IAT measure? • Is it non-context dependent? • Culturally nurtured associative structures or “true” individual’s evaluations (i.e., cultural knowledge about a target-concept association vs. my personal evaluation about the target) • Is the IAT a measure of strength of association? • Check this website https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/research/
Attitude Strength • Can strength-related dimensions be studied in isolation? • Measures of other strength-related properties (i.e., repeated expression and elaboration) • Manipulations that can eliminate differences in one or more dimensions (i.e., distraction task). • Measures and manipulations might not be interchangeable
Self-Defining Attitudes • What about measuring self-defining attitudes? • Self-presentation • Contingencies of self-worth and editing of responses • Shall we anticipate whether certain attitudes we want to measure are self-defining? • What should we do about it?
Attitudes Toward Advertising • Personal vs. Shared attitudes • Which one is more important? • Would both lead to same behaviors?
Interconnectedness of Attitudes • If we want to measure attitude toward an object, can the questionnaire itself change individual’s prior attitudes? I f so, How can that happen? • Changing cognitions through previously presented information (i.e., other questions – context effects?) • Affecting emotions toward the object (i.e., prejudice). • Making accessible in memory certain behaviors (i.e., associating the objects to recently recalled behaviors) • Measuring attitude toward related objects (assimilation or contrast?)