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Social Psychology 320 Lecture 2 – week 3 Gabriela Ilie Fall 2006 Department of Psychology University of Toronto Being a little flustered towards … driving-in to work? Outline • Definitions – What are attitudes? • Attitudes origin, formation, issues – Where do they come from? – How do attitudes developed? – Consistency? • Factors to consider: implicit vs. explicit influences • Function and Roles – What’s the point? Introduction • Attitude is a hypothetical construct. • Attitudes are not directly observable. • Attitudes are inferred from observable responses (we make a judgment that something has happened). • The relevant observations here are evaluative responses that are elicited by certain stimuli, or occur in close conjunction with the attitude object. • If there is an established tendency (consistency?) to respond in a certain way toward an attitude object, the person has formed an attitude toward this object. Attitude Object +/- (good/bad) Attitude “Ice cream is good” Evaluative “I like ice cream” Responses “I eat ice cream” Evaluative Responding • Attitudes develop on the basis of evaluative responding. • We cannot unequivocally conclude that an individual holds an attitude until he/she responds “evaluatively” to an Attitude Object (AO). Evaluative Responding Bad Good No Yes No Indifference Negative Yes Positive Ambivalence Definitions of Attitudes The Tripartite Model of Attitudes • Cognitive (reflect perceptions and thoughts about the attitude object) • Affective (reflect feelings and evaluations toward the attitude object) • Conative (reflect behavioral inclinations, intentions, commitments and actions with respect to the attitude object) • These components are related, but they are not always consistent. • These categories are often not homogeneous. • Must all 3 components be present for attitudes to be considered a true evaluative tendency (i.e. part of the definition of “pure” attitudes)? • Conclusion: It is better to consider each component separately and study the processes that link the components with each other. Gordon Allport (1935) Attitude is a mental or neural state of readiness, organized through experience, exerting a directive influence upon the individual’s response to all objects and situations with which it is related. Petty & Cacioppo (1981) Attitude is a general and enduring positive or negative feeling about some person, object, or issue. Eagley and Chaiken (1992) Attitude is a psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or disfavor […] summary evaluations of attitude objects. Judd, Ryan, & Parke, (1991) Attitudes can be viewed as evaluations of various objects that are stored in memory. Petty (1995) Attitudes refer to very general evaluations that people hold of themselves, other people, objects, and issues. Perloff (1993) Attitude as "a learned, enduring, and affective evaluation of an object (a person, entity, or idea) that exerts a directive impact on social behavior.“ The three Components of Attitude 1. Cognitive – beliefs about what is or is not true with respect to the AO. 2. Affective – feelings / emotions toward the AO. 3. Behavioral – tendencies to do certain things with respect to the AO. Tri-component model Component Characteristics Examples Affect Emotional reactions "I like/hate ..." Internalized mental “I think the Cognition representations, beliefs, world should..." thoughts Tendency to respond in Behavior a particular way toward "I always do...” the attitude object Perloff (2003) Attitude is a “learned, global evaluation of an object (person, place, or issue) that influences thought and action.” Attitudes vs. Other Related Constructs Video clip? Attitude or … what? Attitudes vs. Other Constructs Differentiating attitudes from: Habits (I wake up every morning and I feel angry!) Values (beliefs that we held dear); “You know what Maria… once I would like to wake up and find these dishes in the cabinet!” Beliefs (They are assumptions, theories, explanations, conclusions and states of mind) Opinions (a person's ideas and thoughts towards something) Attitudes and Habits (Carol… is not that. I wake up every morning and I feel angry!) Both influence behavior Habits are routine behaviors that are performed without evaluation of the behaviors’ consequences or the behavior itself Attitudes are persistent evaluations In the video example we just saw we see some development of cognitive dissonance, questioning/evaluation of the habit. We see acknowledgement of the consistency of the habit and its repercussions. “I realize that it had nothing to do with our car being stolen…” Or NOT? Some attitude formation? Attitudes and Values “You know what Maria… once I would like to wake up and find these dishes in the cabinet!” Both are evaluations Although, saying that somebody values the dishes being placed in the cabinet after they have been washed is similar with saying that somebody has a positive attitude of the dishes being placed in the cabinet after they have been washed Values are ideal, desirable goals - more global/general than attitudes Values can encompass several attitudes – i.e., one can have several attitudes towards certain values Attitudes and Beliefs “Your amigo here, is going to sell our keys the moment he goes out that door!” Beliefs are propositions about the attributes (“your amigo here”) of objects (e.g., “[he]…is going to sell our keys the moment he goes out that door”) Beliefs are primarily cognitive – they do not have the affective content of attitudes (although they may trigger affective reactions) Difficult to distinguish attitudes from beliefs when a belief ascribes a positive or negative attribute to an object Attitudes vs. Opinions Opinions colloquially express an attitude (“We have different opinions on the use of language with our maid”). “Opinion” is more commonly used in market research and surveys (Public Opinion Polls), whereas “Attitude” is more commonly used by psychologists. Opinion more related to cognitive evaluation. Where do they come from? Genetic Influence Research indicated that twins have similar attitudes – i.e., suggesting a genetic basis for the formation of attitudes (Arvey, et al., 1989). Some attitudes (e.g., death penalty, religion, sex, music) show heritability coefficients of around .50. (Tesser, 1993) Suggesting automaticity, fast processing, implicitness; old brain areas mechanisms? Universality of certain attitudes - result of phylogeny (McGuire, 1985). Phylogeny is the study of the evolution of a genetically related group of organisms. Genetic Influence “Heritable attitudes” would be harder to change, and they are more quickly activated. Old brain areas mechanisms? But... attitudes don't "sit" on genes; genetic influences must be mediated through complex interactions between biological tendencies and socio-cultural shaping. “An attitude is a learned, global evaluation of an object (person, place, or issue) that influences thought and action.” (Perloff, 2003, p. 39). “Social Learning / socialization refers to the "gradual acquisition of language, attitudes, and other socially approved values through reinforcement, observation, and other learning processes." (Forsyth, 1995) Attitude Formation Attitudes are learned from others or via direct experience through: 1. Imitation or modeling (conscious adoption, unconscious assimilation; Newcomb, 1943). 2. Information (e.g., perception, rumor, reading). 3. Mere exposure 4. Classical conditioning 5. Operant conditioning Classical conditioning • Learning-through association between stimuli • The attitude object is associated with unconditional stimulus (e.g., image, pain, physiological stress, odors and sounds) Unconditioned US Response Neutral Stimulus Neutral Stimulus + US Neutral Conditioned Stimulus Response Operant Conditioning • Reinforcement or punishment of attitudes (sometimes it is only the verbal response that is reinforced or punished). • The event following the response (i.e., consequence) reinforces or punishes the response (i.e., attitude). • Phone interviews in which experimenter says "good" or "mm-hmm" in response to expressed opinions. These attitudes became stronger, as tested one week later (Hildum & Brown, 1956). Mere Exposure • Attitudes can be acquired from the mere exposure to an object. Direct repeated experience often results in preference (i.e., compared to objects less often encountered). • The more familiar the object/task, the more we generally like it (Bornstein, 1989; Zajonc, 1968). Direct Experience • Direct experience of issues and events (+ or - experiences). • Attitudes acquired by direct experience are: – held with greater confidence – more specific – more easily recalled – more resistant to change – more consistent with behavior Fazio and Zanna (1978) Imitation/Modeling • Imitation – mere copy of another’s behavior without acquisition of the relationship between behavior and consequences – e.g., young children mimic/parrot their parents’ attitudes. • Modeling (Social Learning Theory) - behaviors / attitudes are acquired through observation and reproduced because of the contingencies – relationship with the consequence (Bandura, 1969). Why do People Hold Attitudes? General Functions of Attitudes Phylogenetic (Adaptive) Explanation • Stresses the adaptive value of avoiding objects that threaten survival, and seek objects that help to maintain resources and secure reproduction. General Functions of Attitudes Efficiency Function • Learned summary of evaluations which guides our behaviors (i.e., so we don’t have to constantly re-assess attitudes objects). • Make decisions faster. • Make decisions in situations with insufficient information. Attitudes define how people perceive and think about their environment and - to a certain extend - how they behave. Environment/ Attitude Attitudes/ Evaluative Objects/Behavior Responses Are attitudes useful? Keeping phylogeny in mind: Are attitudes evolving? General Functions of Attitudes But, efficiency has some costs: – Overgeneralization, – Simplification, – Prone to errors, – May lead to bad decisions Functional Approach Examines the functions (needs/roles) attitudes serve for different individuals in different contexts (Perloff, 2003) 1. Knowledge 2. Utilitarian 3. Social Adjustive 4. Social Identity 5. Value-Expressive 6. Ego-Defensive Function of attitudes 1. The same attitudes can serve different functions for different people 2. Different attitudes can serve a same function for different individuals 3. A single attitude can serve several functions for a same individual. Why are we interested in the Functions of Attitudes • Knowledge of the functions is necessary to control attitudes (i.e., predict, prevent, produce, reinforce, induce or change). • Attitude change is more likely when the message or strategy is directed at the underlying function the attitude serves (i.e., match the motivational function). Agent 320 A teen holds a positive attitude toward smoking because she thinks she will be accepted and liked by her peers if she take this side. Your Mission: Changing (i.e., removing or substituting) her attitude. Conclusion • Attitudes are persistent evaluations. • Attitudes are influenced by cultural factors (learning) and biological factors (innate preferences or aversions). • Attitudes are based on cognitive evaluations and affective evaluations to varying degrees. • Attitudes help us to make decisions and choices more economically based on information from previous experiences.
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