"Attitudes are associations between attitude objects (virtually any aspect of the social world) and evaluations of those objects"
"Attitudes are lasting evaluations of various aspects of the social world--evaluations that are stored in memory"
"An attitude is a mental and neural state of readiness organised through experience exerting a directive or dynamic influence upon the individual's response to all objects and situations with which it is related."
"A learned predisposition to respond in a consistently favourable or unfavourable manner with respect to a given object."
On what kinds of dimensions can we "describe" attitudes?
Valence , aka "evaluation" (positive, negative)
Strength (certainty or probability)
Complexity (e.g., number of elements in an attitude)
The ABC's of attitudes. Does each attitude have one or more of following components?:
A: Affective (liking, feeling for)
B: Behavioral (how you behave toward object in question)
C: Cognition (your beliefs/thoughts about object in question)
Think of your attitudes toward the object BIG Macs.
What are the A, B, C's of this attitude?
They can function as schemas for organizing and interpreting information about social entities.
Think about your attitudes toward "spending money," professors, and eating out during the week. I suggest to class: "Hey class, let's celebrate the end of semester by going out to dinner together at the La Caille restaurant." What's your response? How is response informed by each of these attitudes?
People will behave in ways consistent with their attitudes
But, of course, our behaviors do not always conform to attitudes (and vice versa)
Think of examples from your life where attitudes Ç behavior
Let's take an attitude survey and see how consistent your attitudes and behavior are. For now, consider this (some of the links are not active):
We have numerous attitudes about various aspects of our lives. Attitudes are our feelings about an issue at hand &emdash; the clothes we wear, the foods we like or dislike, our taste in music, art, political parties, etc. Our attitudes can span a continuum from very positive to very negative, and usually fall somewhere in between. Some of our attitudes are directed at other people or groups of people. An attitude that involves negative feelings toward people based simply on their membership in a particular group (e.g., a group defined in terms of ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual preference) is called prejudice. Although attitudes do not always predict our behavior, psychological research has shown that they (including prejudice) can affect how people behave. This means that prejudice toward a person or group of people might predict negative behavior toward that person or group. This negative behavior is called discrimination.
Attitude formation, including prejudice, starts early in children's lives. Attitudes have many sources. The attitudes espoused by those around us (family, other influential adults, peers, the media) can profoundly affect what we think and how we feel about a myriad of issues. People's attitudes change across their lifespan as they gain new information and experiences. Unfortunately, people can be extremely resistant to changing prejudicial attitudes. There are three primary reasons for this. First, prejudicial attitudes are often maintained and exacerbated because those holding them feel threatened by the group in question. Second, feelings of prejudice against an "out-group" help buttress self-esteem and the positive feelings people have about their in-group. Third, prejudices lead people to avoid contact with members of the out-group, affording them little new information on which to base new attitudes.
Despite efforts to reduce prejudice and discrimination through civil rights legislation and education, American society still wrestles with discriminatory beliefs and practices. In recent years there have been several well-publicized incidents of prejudicially-motivated crimes http://www.civilrights.org/lcef/hcpc/stats/table9a.html] against people based on race, religion, ethnic background, or sexual orientation. Data show incidents of prejudicially-motivated crimes against gays and lesbians are on the rise [http://www.civilrights.org/lcef/hcpc/stats/overtime.html]. The most recent incident involved Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old freshman and political science major at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Matthew Shepard was savagely pistol-whipped and then lashed to a fence [http://www.mercurycenter.com:80/premium/front/docs/gay18.htm] by alleged first-degree murder suspects Russell Henderson (21) and Aaron McKinney (22). A cyclist passerby found Matt over 12 hours later, first mistaking him for a scarecrow. Matt died from massive head injuries without regaining consciousness on Monday, October 12, 1998. Matt's death unleashed disgust and outrage across the nation. Many vigils [http://www.wiredstrategies.com/vigil1.html] and public displays [http://cnn.com/US/9810/20/gay.protest.ap/index.html] of support for Matt have occurred since his death. His death, has also sparked more callous reactions. For example, at the Colorado State University (Fort Collins) homecoming parade on October 10th, a fraternity float [http://cnn.com/US/9810/13/gay.mock.float/] housed a scarecrow labeled "I'm Gay," mocking Matt Shepard's tragic demise.
Matthew Shepard's murder has sparked a reaction from the gay and lesbian community, uniting people who are concerned with hate crimes against gays or lesbians (or against anyone!). President Clinton has urged Congress to pass Senator Ted Kennedy's bill [http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d105:SN01529:@@@L] geared toward the prevention of hate crimes. Many senators, public officials, and members of the public assert that anti-gay rhetoric may spark hateful attitudes toward gay people that can be used to justify hateful behaviors. In their opinion, hate crimes legislation is necessary [http://www.desnews.com/cgi-bin/libstory_reg?dn98&9810190197]. Hate crime legislation has met with some resistance, however. Some would argue that all murders are hate crimes [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1998/10/16/ED85455.DTL], that it is impossible to discern whether prejudicially-based hatred is the actual motive for any murder, and that passing hate crimes legislation will not solve the problem.
Groups across the country are condemning Matt Shepard's murder as a "hate crime," but what exactly does this mean? The American Psychological Association (1998) published a special issue entitled Hate CrimesToday: An Age-Old Foe In Modern Dress [http://www.apa.org/pubinfo/hate] in its Psychology Examines the Issues forum. Hate crimes are defined by the APA as "violent acts against people, property, or organizations because of the group to which they belong or identify with." Hate crimes frequently take the form of violence toward individuals because of their race, ethnicity, gender, and religious or sexual orientation. The APA report notes that only 30% of the hate crimes documented in 1996 were property crimes, whereas 70% involved personal attacks, ranging from murder to simple assault (harm that does not involve a weapon). The APA also reports that 95% of the people committing hate crimes are not radical members of organized hate groups, but ordinary citizens. These ordinary individuals perpetrate their extraordinary crimes out of a sense of "justice," arguing that they are ridding the world of "undesirables" who "deserve their fate." The APA site is an excellent one to visit as it contains FAQs about hate crimes; addresses the who, what, and why of these atrocities (including prejudice); discusses the widespread resentment or outright discrimination of people based on religion, ethnicity, disability, gender, and sexual preference; and reviews evidence for and against the economic foundation for hate crimes. Other useful information on defining and eradicating hate crimes is contained in the document entitled A Policymaker's Guide to Hate Crimes [http://www.usia.gov/usa/race/bjahate.htm].
What happened to Matt Shepard is unspeakably horrendous. Although something needs to be done to prevent future hate crimes, there are no easy solutions. While contemplating the debate on hate crimes toward any group, ask yourself these questions:
Is it possible to change prejudicial attitudes toward people? How would you go about doing this?
Will changing the prejudicial attitudes change the discriminatory behavior? Why or why not?
Should we reverse the process? That is, will changing peoples' behaviors ultimately change their hateful attitudes? Why or why not? (Tamara Ferguson)
"A majority of Americans favor having Arabs, even those who are U.S.
citizens, being subjected to separate, more intensive security
procedures at airports. About half of Americans favor requiring
Arabs, even those who are citizens of the United States, to carry special ID.".
There are a ton of different approaches to measuring attitudes. Many of these concern self-report measures of attitudes.
Three typical approaches here: All deal with how you know the "value"or "weight" you should assign to any one item in an entire survey and/or with how you know that any one item is a good representative of the general attitude.
Scales proposed by Thurstone (very simplified version thereof)
The point of this method is to decipher exactly what questions need to be asked to adequately measure the attitude domain of interest.
For example: I want to measure attitudes toward completing the Study Guide. What questions do I ask? How do I combine answers to the questions to come up with one score?
Thurstone would have me first talk to "experts" on this topic who, together with me, would generate a whole bunch of topic-relevant statements to present to my sample.
Then, I'd have a group judge each statement as to how favorable, unfavorable, or neutral each statement is vis á vis the attitude topic. These judgments determine the value of the item in the entire survey (e.g., on a 10-point scale from very unfavorable to very favorable, one item's value might be 7.5; another's might be 3.4, etc.).
Second, you ask your target sample to simply identify each item that they agree with (OR disagree with); you do one or the other; not both.
Third, for each respondent, you tally the scale values of the items that the respondent identifies as "agreed with," based on the independent judges' estimates.
Example (from Thurstone, 1931):
Directions. Put a check mark in the blank if you agree with the item.
____ 1. Blacks should be considered the lowest class of human beings. (scale value = 0.9)
____ 2. Blacks and whites must be kept apart in all social affairs where they might be taken as equals. (scale value = 3.2)
____ 3. I am not interested in how blacks rate socially. (scale value = 5.4)
____ 4. A refusal to accept blacks is not based on any fact of nature, but on a prejudice which should be overcome. (scale value = 7.9)
____ 5. I believe that blacks deserve the same social privledges as whites. (scale value = 10.3)
First, you pick individual items to include. You choose individual items that you know correlate highly with the total score across items.
Second, you choose how to scale each item. For example, you construct labels for each scale value (e.g., 1 to 11) to represent the interpretation to be assigned to the number (e.g., disagree strongly = 1, disagree slightly = 2, etc.)
Third, you ask your target audience to mark each item.
Fourth, you derive a target's score by adding the values that target identified on each item.
Semantic Differential Scales
First, you ascertain the dimensions of evaluation that you are going to have judges use to rate attitude objects. For example: positive - negative; strong - weak; active - passive (classic dimensions identified by Osgood, Suci, & Tannenbaum)
Then, you have your targets rate the attitude object (e.g., masculinity; ketchup; movies) on these dimensions.
Then, for each target:
you form a score for each attitude object in terms of each dimension (making sure to take directionality into account).
or: you calculate the difference between the target's responses and some comparison responses (e.g., ketchup connoisseurs).
you know how people evaluate ketchup in terms of its positivity, potency, and activity
or you know how the lay person's judgment on these dimensions deviates from those of experts
Challenge: Write an extra-credit essay regarding measuring attitudes toward requiring exit exams of all students graduating from USU. What would you measure? How would you go about measuring these attitudes? What are they exactly? What problems of measurement present themselves?
More implicit/covert measures (not as dependent on self-report; reduce bias; more difficult to fake)
You've actually taken one of these -- the Implicit Attitudes Test (IAT) of Greenwald & Banaji
There's also the Go/No Go Association Test (GNAT) of Nosek
Many studies show that when initially neutral social stimuli are paired repeatedly with positive or negative stimuli, subjects will develop positive or negative attitudes toward the previously neutral stimulus
Think of advertisements. We'll see a tape of how John B. Watson went into advertising to use principles of learning to sell products.
Classical conditioning can occur outside of conscious awareness below the threshold of conscious awareness--subliminal conditioning (Cheney turns pale!)
moving muscles associated with pulling things toward you (positive) --> positive attitude toward object
moving muscles associated with pushing thing away from you (negative) --> negative attitude toward object
Operant or instrumental conditioning
Persons are rewarded for expressing the "correct" attitudes/punished for "incorrect."
Ex: Think about response I would get from others if I were to express these attitudes publically:
It's okay to smoke and drink.
The Taliban should not be attacked by the U.S.
Tuition should be abolished at USU.
Students should never have to take an exam.
Observational learning or modeling
Persons form attitudes by observing and then imitating models they like and admire.
Ex: Your mother states that "Only biodegradeable products should be used to do laundry." (Will you model that attitude?)
Attitude formation: Social Comparison
Social comparison is our tendency to compare ourselves with others to judge whether our view of social reality is correct or not
When physical reality is vague we rely more and more on others to determine social reality (Festinger)
Attitude formation: Genetic Factors
Controlled twin studies in US and Sweden reveal that identical twins share more similar attitudes than fraternal twins
True for several kinds of attitudes
Relationship holds for twins reared apart as well as twins reared together
How can this be?
Genetic factors may influence general dispositions (e.g., tendency to have positive affect) and conditionability that may influence formation of more specific attitudes
Went on tour with a Chinese couple in southwest. Chinese very discriminated against in those days.
Asked hotel proprietors (in person) whether the Chinese couple
(a) could stay there (99% said yes) and
(b) could eat there (100% said yes).
Then, sent same proprietors a letter asking same questions
(a) (9% said yes) and
(b) (8% said yes).
Conclusion: hmmm. Attitudes do not predict actual behavior.
BUT: Know the limitations of the study (see textbook).
characteristics of the attitudes themselves
(think back to La Caille example)
Tamara's Aunt Rose & tea party & million bucks example
Attitudes formed on the basis of direct experience tend to exert stronger influence on behavior than those formed through hearsay.
Ex: Your attitude toward legalizing marijuana is probably stronger (pro or con) the more you've have personal experience with this issue. Moreover, your actual vote on legalizing marijuana would be more consistent with your attitude toward it, if you had prior experience with this issue.
Strong attitudes exert more influence on behavior
Components of attitude strength-behavior link:
The more informed you are on the topic, the stronger your attitude typically predicts behavior (e.g., if you know a lot about water conservation, and you say you favor it, you also are likely to actually engage in it)
The more the topic affects you, the stronger the attitude-behavior link (e.g., how strong is your attitude toward implementing exit exams here at USU vs. at Merrimack College? If you were given a vote at both locations, which vote would be most consistent with your attitude?)
Social identification and value relevance:
The more the attitude topic is important to defining who you are, or the more it reflects on your basic values, the stronger the attitude. Stronger the attitude, stronger its link to behavior (e.g., attitudes toward abortion, smoking, or alcohol consumption vs. attitudes toward speeding or cheating).
Stronger attitudes are usually more accessible to consciousness/awareness, & thereby can more easily regulate behavior. The book gives the great example of computer orientation -- PC vs. MAC users.
Specific attitudes are better at predicting a specific behavior than general attitudes
General attitudes are better for predicting a general class of behaviors than specific attitudes
Attitudes are a better predictor of behavior for low self monitors than for high self-monitors
Self-monitoring -- tendency to adjust one's behavior to fit the situation, awareness of one's effects on others, and the ability to regulate one's nonverbal cues and behaviors to influence others' impressions.
Also better predictor for those high in Need for Cognition (see p. 201)
Individuals consider the implications of their actions before deciding how to behave
The best predictor of behavior in a situation is the strength of our intentions with respect to that situation
Intentions will be based on
attitudes toward the behavior in question (e.g., studying for class is something I favor)
subjective norms -- person's beliefs about how others will evaluate the behavior (e.g., my roommates think studying is a waste of time)
perceived behavioral control -- extent to which person believes behavior is hard or easy to control (e.g., I've been called in this week to work 40 hours)
Although your attitude toward studying is positive, your intention to study (and actual studying) will probably be low.
Even when all are congruent (attitudes, norms, and control): This model does well only for situations where we have time and inclination to actually reflect on possible behavior
Together these shape our definition of the situation
The definition influences our behavior
(pretend you're in the mall and you run into a person who's sloppily dressed and laying on the ground, groaning. What attitude does this trigger in you? How does that affect your likelihood of helping?)
(the last section of notes, below, will be revised somewhat)
WHO is more persuasive? (Who says what to whom?)
Experts (vs. nonexperts)
Attractive communicators (vs. unattractive ones)
People who speak rapidly (vs. slow speakers)
WHAT kind of message is more persuasive? (Who says what to whom?)
We generally resist direct efforts to persuade us
Two-sided message often more effective with audience that holds contrary attitude
Messages that provoke strong emotions (particularly fear) in the audience can be effective if they provide clear recommendations about what behavior can prevent negative consequences
Who can tell me what the sleeper effect is?
WHO is more likely to be persuaded? (Who says what to whom?)
Persons may be more susceptible to persuasion when distracted by extraneous event
Persons low in self-esteem are often easier to persuade unless low self-esteem leads person to withdraw from attending to persuasive message
Petty & Cacioppo's ELM involves two processes. Each requires different amounts of cognitive effort
Central route -- attitude change is due to systematic processing of information presented
Degree of attitude change depends on quality of the arguments
Peripheral route -- attitude change is due to superficial persuasion cues (attractiveness, expertise, status)
Careful processing of message does not occur
Attitude change depends on presence of persuasion cues
Evidence for ELM:
When persuasive messages are not interesting or relevant to persons, amount of persuasion is NOT influenced by the strength of the arguments
When messages are relevant, strength of arguments DOES influence amount of persuasion
Weak arguments added to strong ones may actually reduce the amount of persuasion
when issues are important to listeners
Effects of two routes on the "changed" attitude
Attitude change through central route lasts longer than change through peripheral route
Change through central route has involved careful thought
Attitude change produced through central route is more resistant to later persuasive efforts than change produced through peripheral route
Attitude change produced through central route is more closely related to behavior than change produced through peripheral route
We will feel motivated to reduce dissonance by:
changing attitude or behavior to make them consistent,
acquiring new information that supports attitude or behavior, or
trivializing the inconsistency
Elliott & Devine (1994) demonstrated that cognitive dissonance really is an unpleasant experience
Students who rated their feelings
immediately after writing counterattitudinal essays reported feeling more discomfort than those who
reported attitudes first --who had the chance to reduce dissonance by changing attitudes before they reported their feelings
believe they have a choice whether or not to behave in attitude discrepant way
believe they were personally responsible for both the chosen course of action and the negative effects it produced
view the payment they receive as well-deserved payment rather than as a bribe
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