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chapter 4

Chapter 4

Attitudes: Evaluating the Social World

  • This multimedia product and its contents are protected under copyright law. The following are prohibited by law:
  • any public performance or display, including transmission of any image over a network;
  • preparation of any derivative work, including the extraction, in whole or in part, of any images;
  • any rental, lease, or lending of the program.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

chapter outline
Chapter Outline
  • Attitude Formation
  • Attitude Functions
  • Link Between Attitudes and Behavior
  • Persuasion
  • Cognitive Dissonance

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

attitudes
Attitudes
  • Attitudes—evaluations of various aspects of the social world
    • The study of attitudes is a major topic within the field of social psychology.
      • They represent a very basic component of social cognition.
      • They often influence behavior, especially when they are strong, accessible, and long-standing.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

attitude formation
Attitude Formation
  • How Attitudes Develop
    • Social Learning—the process through which people acquire new information, forms of behavior, or attitudes from other persons
    • Three learning processes are important to the development of attitudes.
      • Classical Conditioning—learning in which one stimulus becomes a signal for the presentation of another stimulus (learning by association)
        • Subliminal Conditioning—classical conditioning of attitudes by exposure to stimuli that are below individuals’ threshold of conscious awareness

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

attitude formation5
Attitude Formation
  • How Attitudes Develop
      • Instrumental Conditioning—learning in which responses (e.g., attitudes) that lead to positive outcomes or which avoid negative outcomes are strengthened
      • Observational Learning—learning in which individuals acquire new forms of behavior (e.g., attitudes) as a result of observing others
        • Media exposure can influence attitude formation.
          • Third-Person Effect—the impact of media exposure on others’ attitudes and behaviors is overestimated and the impact on the self is underestimated
        • Social Comparisonto people that are liked also plays a role in learning attitudes from others and people learn attitudes from those they like and respect.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

attitude functions
Attitude Functions
  • Attitude formation is a basic cognitive process that can be viewed as almost automatic.
    • Mere Exposure
      • People form attitudes toward things that they have seen before, but do not necessarily remember seeing.
    • Attitudes serve many functions.
      • The Knowledge Function—attitudes aid in the interpretation of new stimuli and enable rapid responding to attitude-relevant information (in ways that maintain them).
        • Attitudes help to make sense of the social world quickly.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

attitude functions7
Attitude Functions
  • Attitudes serve many functions.
    • The Identity or Self-Expression Function—attitudes can permit the expression of central values and beliefs and thereby communicate personal identity.
      • This can include group membership and identity.
        • People are more likely to adopt the attitude position of someone with whom they share an important identity.
    • The Self-Esteem Function—holding particular attitudes can help maintain or enhance feelings of self-worth.
      • Attitudes based on moral convictions are good predictors of behavior.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

attitude functions8
Attitude Functions
  • Attitudes serve many functions.
    • The Ego-Defensive Function—claiming particular attitudes can protect people from unwanted or unflattering views of themselves.
      • For example, when prejudiced people state that they are against prejudice and discrimination they protect themselves from seeing that they are actually bigoted.
    • The Impression Motivation Function—people can use attitudes to lead others to have a positive view of themselves. When motivated to do so, the attitudes people express can shift in order to create the desired impression on others.
      • Attitudes that serve an impression motivation function can lead people to formulate arguments that support their views.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

attitude formation and functions
Attitude Formation and Functions
  • What are your thoughts?
    • How is an attitude formed through the process of classical conditioning or subliminal conditioning?
    • What are examples of attitudes that people learn from the media?
      • Are there problems with learning attitudes from the media?
        • If so, what are they?
    • What functions do your attitudes serve?
      • Are people always aware of why they hold the attitudes that they do?
        • What are consequences of not being aware of these functions?

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

link between attitudes and behavior
Link Between Attitudes and Behavior
  • Role of the Social Context
    • Social attitudes do not always predict behavior.
      • LaPiere (1934) found that the actions of business owners did not match their attitudes.
        • Businesses gave the Chinese couple traveling with him very good service.
        • But, they expressed negative attitudes in written responses to LaPiere, saying that they would not offer service to Chinese customers.
      • Attitudes differentially predict behavior depending on how public the action is and whether there are potential social consequences.

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link between attitudes and behavior11
Link Between Attitudes and Behavior
  • When and Why Do Attitudes Influence Behavior?
    • Situational constraints that affect attitude expression
      • People’s assumptions about the attitudes of others and what they think others will think of them can be better predictors of behavior than their actual attitudes.
        • And, due to pluralistic ignorance, people can be wrong about what attitudes they think others hold.
    • Strength of attitudes
      • Strong attitudes are better predictors of behavior than are weak attitudes.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

link between attitudes and behavior12
Link Between Attitudes and Behavior
  • Attitude extremity
    • An important factor in determining attitude intensity is vested interest.
      • When people are affected by an object or issue (they have a strong vested interest), their attitudes will have a larger impact on their behavior.
        • And, personal relevance increases the development of arguments to support the attitude.
  • Role of personal experience
    • Direct experience with an attitude object/issue results in a stronger link between the attitude and behavior.
      • Attitudes formed by direct experience are more accessible.
        • Accessible attitudes are more likely to determine behavior.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

link between attitudes and behavior13
Link Between Attitudes and Behavior

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

link between attitudes and behavior14
Link Between Attitudes and Behavior
  • How Do Attitudes Guide Behavior?
    • Attitudes arrived at through reasoned thought
      • Theory of Reasoned Action (Fishbein & Azjen, 1980)—the decision to engage in a particular behavior is the result of a rational process in which behavioral options are considered, consequences or outcomes of each are evaluated, and a decision is reached to act or not to act.
        • That decision is reflected in behavioral intentions, which strongly influence overt behavior.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

link between attitudes and behavior15
Link Between Attitudes and Behavior
  • How Do Attitudes Guide Behavior?
      • Theory of Planned Behavior—in addition to attitudes toward a given behavior and subjective norms about it, individuals also consider their ability to perform the behavior (perceived behavioral control).
        • This theory is an extension of the theory of reasoned action.
        • Behavioral intentions are determined by attitudes toward a behavior, subjective norms, and also perceived behavioral control.
      • Both theories are useful in predicting the link between attitudes and behavior.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

link between attitudes and behavior16
Link Between Attitudes and Behavior
  • How Do Attitudes Guide Behavior?
    • Attitudes and spontaneous behavioral reactions
      • Attitude-to-Behavior Process Model (Fazio, 1989)—emphasizes the influence of attitudes and stored knowledge of what is appropriate in a given situation on an individual’s definition of the present situation, which then influences overt behavior.
    • Attitudes affect behavior in two ways.
      • Attitudes can result in conscious deliberation in which alternatives are weighed and people decide how to act.
      • Or, attitudes spontaneously shape perceptions of the situation and behavioral reactions.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

link between attitudes and behavior17
Link Between Attitudes and Behavior
  • What are your thoughts?
    • What accounts for pluralistic ignorance, people’s false belief that others have different attitudes than they do?
      • Which sources in society may be promoting this belief?
    • Are attitudes formed by deliberate thoughts that guide actions or do attitudes spontaneously shape perceptions of the situation and behavioral reactions?
      • Do situational factors determine how attitudes will guide behavior?
        • When are people more deliberate and when are they more spontaneous?

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

persuasion
Persuasion
  • Persuasion—efforts to change others’ attitudes through the use of various kinds of messages

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

persuasion19
Persuasion
  • Communicators and Audiences (findings from early research by Hovland, Janis, and Kelley, 1953)
    • Communicators who are perceived as credible experts, are attractive, speak rapidly, and appear confident are more persuasive.
    • Messages that do not appear to try to change attitudes are more persuasive.
    • Distraction can make people more likely to be persuaded.
    • A two-sided approach is more persuasive when the audience’s attitude is different from the communicator’s.
    • Younger people (e.g., between the ages of 18 and 25) are more likely to be persuaded than are older people.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

persuasion20
Persuasion
  • The Cognitive Processes Underlying Persuasion
    • Systematic versus heuristic processing
      • Systematic Processing—involves careful consideration of message content and ideas (argument strength matters)
        • Central Route (to persuasion)—attitude change resulting from systematic processing of information presented in persuasive messages
      • Heuristic Processing—involves the use of simple rules or mental shortcuts (argument strength does not matter)
        • Peripheral Route (to persuasion)—attitude change in response to peripheral persuasion cues, e.g., expertise or status

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

persuasion21
Persuasion
  • According to the elaboration likelihood model (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986) and the heuristic-systematic model (Chaiken, et al., 1989),persuasion can occur in two ways, differing in the amount of cognitive effort or elaboration they require.
    • People can take the central route (use systematic processing).
    • People can take the peripheral route (use heuristic processing).

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

persuasion22
Persuasion

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

persuasion23
Persuasion
  • Resisting Persuasion
    • Reactance—negative reactions to threats to one’s personal freedom
      • Often increases resistance to persuasion and can even produce negative attitude change or that opposite to what was intended
      • Is one reason why hard-sell persuasion attempts often fail
    • Forewarning—advance knowledge that one is about to become the target of an attempt at persuasion and increases resistance to the persuasion that follows
      • Provides opportunity to develop counterarguments

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

persuasion24
Persuasion
  • Resisting Persuasion
    • Selective Avoidance—tendency to direct attention away from information that challenges existing attitudes, which increases resistance to persuasion
      • In addition, people seek information consistent with their attitudes (selective exposure).
    • Actively defend attitudes
      • Generate counterarguments to refute opposing position
    • Inoculation (McGuire, 1961)
      • Exposure to arguments opposed to one’s attitudes, along with arguments that refute these counterattitudinal positions, can strengthen people’s original attitudes.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

persuasion25
Persuasion
  • What are your thoughts?
    • Why are younger people more persuadable than older people?
    • Do most voters take the central route or the peripheral route when listening to the persuasive messages of political candidates?
      • What determines which route people take?
      • What are the consequences for the political process of taking the central route or the peripheral route?
    • Are fear-based persuasive appeals effective at changing attitudes and related behavior?
      • What factors are important to consider when using fear?

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

cognitive dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance
  • Cognitive Dissonance—an (unpleasant) internal state which results when individuals notice inconsistency between two or more attitudes or between their attitudes and their behavior
    • Can result in attitude change

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

cognitive dissonance27
Cognitive Dissonance
  • People are motivated to reduce cognitive dissonance and use the following strategies to do so (Aronson, 1968; Festinger, 1957).
    • Change attitudes or behavior to be consistent with each other
    • Acquire information that supports attitude or behavior
    • Engage in trivialization of the inconsistency, concluding that the attitudes or behaviors are unimportant
    • Also, people use indirect ways to restore positive self-evaluations, which is more likely when the dissonance involves important attitudes or self-beliefs (Steele, 1988) (e.g., they may use self-affirmation).

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

cognitive dissonance28
Cognitive Dissonance
  • Is dissonance really unpleasant?

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cognitive dissonance29
Cognitive Dissonance
  • Is dissonance a universal human experience?
    • Dissonance is universal, but the factors that produce it and its magnitude are influenced by cultural factors.
      • The spreading of alternatives (when making a decision people tend to downplay the item they did not choose and promote the item that they did choose) effect was found to be stronger for Canadian students than for Japanese students (Heine & Lehman, 1997).

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

cognitive dissonance30
Cognitive Dissonance
  • Dissonance and attitude change: The effects of Induced or Forced Compliance
    • Dissonance and the less-leads-to-more effect
      • Less reasons or rewards for performing an attitude-discrepant behavior often results in more dissonance and thus greater attitude change, since it gives people less justification.
      • Effect only occurs when people believe that they have a choice about performing the behavior and when they feel personally responsible for their choice and its negative effects.
      • Effect only occurs when people view the reward as a well-deserved payment, and not as a bribe.
    • Dissonance is stronger and attitudes change more when there is no real justification for engaging in attitude-discrepant behavior.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

cognitive dissonance31
Cognitive Dissonance

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cognitive dissonance32
Cognitive Dissonance
  • When dissonance is a tool for beneficial changes in behavior
    • Dissonance can promote positive behavioral changes, especially when it generates hypocrisy—publicly advocating some attitudes or behavior and then acting in a way that is inconsistent with these attitudes or behavior.
      • For maximum effectiveness of this tool:
        • People must publicly advocate the desired behaviors.
        • People must be induced to think about their own failures to engage in these behaviors in the past.
        • People must be given access to direct routes to dissonance reduction.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

cognitive dissonance33
Cognitive Dissonance
  • What are your thoughts?
    • What are the factors that increase the likelihood that someone will experience cognitive dissonance?
    • Why are people motivated to reduce cognitive dissonance?
    • Why may dissonance be felt more strongly in individualist cultures than in collectivist cultures?
    • How could dissonance be used as a tool to promote behaviors that conserve energy and environmental resources?

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon