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Social Psychology Part II. Dr. William G. Huitt Valdosta State University. Last revised: May 2005. Attitudes and Attitude Change. Attitudes A relatively stable evaluation of a person, object, situation, or issue Attitudes have three components:

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social psychology part ii

Social PsychologyPart II

Dr. William G. Huitt

Valdosta State University

Last revised: May 2005

attitudes and attitude change
Attitudes and Attitude Change
  • Attitudes
    • A relatively stable evaluation of a person, object, situation, or issue
    • Attitudes have three components:
      • a cognitive component – thoughts and beliefs about the attitudinal object
      • an emotional component – feelings toward the attitudinal object
      • a behavioral component – predispositions concerning actions toward the object
  • Generally, attitudes are caught, not taught.
cognitive dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance
  • When people discover that some of their attitudes are in conflict with others or that their attitudes are not consistent with their behavior; they are likely to experience an unpleasant state called cognitive dissonance
  • Likely results from a desire to maintain self-esteem
  • Individuals experience dissonance when observing conflicts in the attitudes and/or behaviors of others; that is, vicarious cognitive dissonance
cognitive dissonance4
Cognitive Dissonance
  • Festinger and Carlsmith
    • Placed research participants alone in a room to play a boring game
    • Upon completing the game, participants were instructed to tell the next participants that the game was fun
    • Participants who were paid $1 resolved the conflict by convincing themselves that the game really had been fun, a change in attitude
    • By contrast, participants who were paid $20 resolved the negative feelings by justifying their actions on the basis of having been paid a fairly large sum of money relative to the amount of effort it had required to lie to the next participant
cognitive dissonance5
Cognitive Dissonance
  • Aronson and Mills
    • Argued that the more people have to sacrifice, give up, or suffer to become a member of an organization, the more positive their attitudes are likely to become toward the group, in order to justify their sacrifice
  • A deliberate attempt to influence the attitudes and/or behavior of another
  • Researchers have identified four elements of persuasion:
    • the source of the communication
    • the audience
    • the message
    • the medium
  • Some factors that make the source more persuasive are
    • credibility
    • attractiveness
    • likeability
  • Persuasion easier when
    • people are of low intelligence
    • Message is repeated
prosocial behavior
Prosocial Behavior
  • Behavior that benefits others, such as helping, cooperation, and sympathy
  • Altruism
    • Behavior aimed at helping another, requiring some self-sacrifice and not designed for personal gain
    • Factors influencing
      • empathy
      • commitment
prosocial behavior9
Prosocial Behavior
  • The bystander effect
    • The fact that as the number of bystanders at an emergency increases, the probability that the victim will receive help decreases, and help, if given, is likely to be delayed
    • Diffusion of responsibility
      • The feeling among bystanders at an emergency that the responsibility for helping is shared by the group, so each person feels less compelled to act than if he or she alone bore the total responsibility
  • The intentional infliction of physical or psychological harm on another
  • Biological factors in aggression
    • There is a genetic link for criminal behavior
    • Men are more physically aggressive than women, and the male hormone testosterone is involved
    • Low arousal level of the autonomic nervous system
  • Other influences on aggression
    • Frustration-aggression hypothesis
      • The hypothesis that frustration produces aggression
      • Aggression in response to frustration is not always aimed at the people causing it
    • Scapegoating
      • Displacing aggression onto minority groups or other innocent targets not responsible for the frustrating situation
    • People often become aggressive when they are in pain or are exposed to loud noise or foul odors
  • Aversive events and from unpleasant emotional states such as sadness, grief, and depression
  • Personal space
    • An area surrounding each individual, much like an invisible bubble, that is considered to belong to the person and is used to regulate the closeness of interactions with others
  • Crowding
    • A subjective perception that there are too many people in a defined space
social learning theory
Social learning theory
  • Learning by observation and modeling
social learning theory14
Social Learning Theory
  • Attention
    • individual notices something in the environment
  • Retention
    • individual remembers what was noticed
  • Reproduction
    • individual produces an action that is a copy of what was noticed
  • Motivation
    • environment delivers a consequence that changes the probability the behavior will be emitted again (reinforcement and punishment)
  • Albert Bandura
    • Claims that aggressive models in the subculture, the family, and the media all play a part in increasing the level of aggression in society
  • Oliver
    • Concludes that one-third of people who are abused go on to become abusers, one-third do not, and the final third may become abusers if their lives are highly stressful
  • Research evidence overwhelmingly supports a relationship between TV violence and viewer aggression
social cognition theory
Social Cognition Theory
  • Mental processes that people use to notice, interpret, understand, remember, and apply information about the social world and that enable them to simplify, categorize, and order that world
prejudice and discrimination
Prejudice and Discrimination
  • Prejudice
    • Negative attitudes toward others based on their gender, religion, race, or membership in a particular group
  • Discrimination
    • Behavior, usually negative, directed toward others based on their gender, religion, race, or membership in a particular group
prejudice and discrimination19
Prejudice and Discrimination
  • The roots of prejudice and discrimination
    • Realistic conflict theory
      • The notion that prejudices arise when social groups must compete for scarce resources and opportunities
    • In-groups and out-groups
      • In-group
        • A social group with a strong sense of togetherness and from which others are excluded
      • Out-group
        • A social group specifically identified by the in-group as not belonging
prejudice and discrimination20
Prejudice and Discrimination
  • The roots of prejudice and discrimination
    • Social cognitive theory
      • According to the social-cognitive theory, people learn attitudes of prejudice and hatred (or nonprejudiced attitudes) the same way they learn other attitudes
prejudice and discrimination21
Prejudice and Discrimination
  • The roots of prejudice and discrimination
    • Social cognitive theory
      • Stereotypes
        • Widely shared beliefs about the characteristic traits, attitudes, and behaviors of members of various social groups, including the assumption that the members of such groups are usually all alike
        • Macrae and colleagues
        • Suggest that people apply stereotypes in their interactions with others because doing so requires less mental energy than trying to understand others as individuals
prejudice and discrimination22
Prejudice and Discrimination
  • Is prejudice increasing or decreasing?
    • Gallup polls revealed that Caucasians in the United States became more racially tolerant over the final decades of the twentieth century
    • Studies suggest that racial stereotyping is still evident in the United States