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Soc 319: Sociological Approaches to Social Psychology

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  1. Soc 319: Sociological Approaches to Social Psychology Thursday February 26, 2009 Attribution Theory (cont’d) & Attitudes

  2. I. Attribution Theory • What is It? 1. Naïve scientist B. Dispositional vs. Situational Attributions 1. Subtractive Rule C. Covariation Principle (Kelley) 1. Three sources of behavior a. Actor b. Object c. Context

  3. C. Kelly Covariation (cont’d) 2. Sources of information for making attribution a. Consensus b. Consistency c. Distinctiveness 3. Examples

  4. Kelley’s Cube (e.g., McArthur, 1972) Is Joe the Comedian funny? Is Mary easily amused? Or is tonight a special event?

  5. D. Sources of Bias in Making Attributions 1. Correspondence bias (Jones 1979) a. Explanations 2. Actor-observer effect (“You fell, I was pushed”) a. Explanations 3. Self-serving bias (“I’m good, you’re lucky”) a. Explanations

  6. E. Attributions for Success and Failure 1. Dimensions a. Locus of control b. Stability 2. Combinations a. Internal/stable = Ability (your ability at logic & reasoning) b. Internal/unstable = Effort (how many hours you studied the LSAT guide) c. External/stable = Task difficulty (how difficult the test is) d. External/unstable = Luck

  7. Attributions for Success and Failure Source: Weiner et al., 1972

  8. F. Consequences of Success & Failure Attributions • Such attributions may affect subsequent achievement behaviors and motivation; future achievement expectancies; persistence at similar tasks; pride or shame felt following success or failure. a. Optimistic attribution style. Negative outcomes attributed external, unstable and specific causes; and positive outcomes to internal, stable, global causes. b. Pessimistic attribution style. Negative outcomes attributed to internal, stable, and global forces. (I’m a bad person); positive events in terms of external, unstable, and specific causes.

  9. I. Attitudes A. Definitions 1. General: “an attitude is a predisposition to respond to a particular object in a generally favorable or unfavorable way.” 2. Tripartite approaches to attitude a. Affective: + or - evaluation (like/dislike) of object • “Cigarette smoke is smelly and disgusting.” b. Behavioral: predisposition to respond or a behavioral tendency towards the object. • “I do not and would never smoke.” c. Cognitive: beliefs about object • “Smoking causes cancer and emphysema.”

  10. B. Why attitudes are important • Among most “distinctive and indispensable” topics in social psych (Allport 1954). • An important indicator of social and normative change. • Early social psychological research presumed attitude towards a given object must influence actions towards that object. • e.g., political polls, marketing polls, fertility aspirations. • The relationship between attitudes and behaviors varies: • Strength of relationship contingent on properties of attitude, person, and social context.

  11. C. How we develop attitudes 1. Instrumental conditioning a. Bennington College study (Newcomb 1943) 2. Classical conditioning 3. Observational learning

  12. Political Attitudes of Bennington College Women (Newcomb, 1943)

  13. Presidential Election 1960

  14. D. Measurement of Attitudes 1. Direct or self-reported measures a. Single items b. Likert scale c. Semantic differential (Osgood, Suci, Tannenbaum 1975) 2. Indirect methods a.Wrong number technique b. Lost letter technique

  15. Examples of self-reported attitude scales • Semantic differential (evaluation, potency, activity) • “Smokers are… Good +3 +2 +1 0 -1 -2 -3 Bad Clean +3 +2 +1 0 -1 -2 -3 Dirty • Likert scale: Please indicate whether you strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree, or disagree strongly.” • “I believe that cigarette smoking should be banned from all public places.” • “Americans should be free to smoke whenever and wherever they like.”

  16. E. Structure of attitudes Vertical structure Horizontal structure

  17. Structure of Attitudes Vertical Structure ↓ Primitive Belief: I follow God’s teachings Horizontal Structure→ Premarital sex leads to promiscuity. Promiscuity spreads STDs. Premarital sex causes pregnancy. Teen pregnancies ruin girls’ lives. The Bible says premarital sex is wrong. Premarital sex is wrong

  18. F. How Attitudes Change Over Time • 1. Age effect: how one’s chronological age affects some attitude (e.g., maturation or developmental effects) • 2. Cohort effect: how membership in a birth cohort affects some attitude (e.g., how boomers and Gen Xers differ) • 3. Period effect: how a historical moment affects some attitude, for all people at that moment (e.g. if 2002 differs from 2000, it could be a “9-11” effect)

  19. Are Baby Boomers really more politically liberal the Gen Xers (or Gen Y)? Anti-war protest, 1968

  20. Important questions to ask • Were Baby Boomers more likely than members of other birth cohorts to also protest in 1978, and 1988, and 1998…. It yes, then we would believe they are a distinct cohort. • Were most protesters in 1968 teenagers? If not, then perhaps protests were a period effect. • Are most protests in 1968, and 1978… and 2006 led by young adults? If yes, then we would say participation in protests reflects an age effect.

  21. Approval/Disapproval of Gay Marriage (2005), by Age