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Social Psychology Attitudes – Chapter 6 October 22, 2004 Class #8.

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Presentation on theme: "Social Psychology Attitudes – Chapter 6 October 22, 2004 Class #8."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Psychology Attitudes – Chapter 6 October 22, 2004 Class #8


3 What is an Attitude?  A positive, negative, or mixed evaluation of a person, object, or idea expressed at some level of intensity

4 How Attitudes Are Measured: Self-Report Measures  Attitude Scale A multiple-item questionnaire designed to measure a person’s attitude toward some object  Ex: Likert Scale  Bogus Pipeline An experimental paradigm A phony lie-detector device that is sometimes used to get respondents to give truthful answers to sensitive questions Helps control for social desirability

5 How Attitudes Are Measured: Covert Measures  Observable behavior Facial Electromyograph (EMG)  An electronic instrument that records facial muscle activity associated with emotions and attitudes

6 How Attitudes Are Measured: The Implicit Association Test (IAT)  Based on notion that we have implicit attitudes Attitudes that one is not aware of having  Implicit Association Test (IAT) Measures the speed with which one responds to pairings of concepts

7 The Link Between Attitudes and Behavior  Is the assumption that attitudes influence behavior a valid one? LaPiere’s (1934) provocative but flawed study Wicker’s (1969) conclusion that attitudes and behavior are only weakly correlated  Kraus (1995): “Attitudes significantly and substantially predict future behavior”

8 Strength of the Attitude  Why do some attitudes have more influence on behavior? Depends on attitude’s importance or strength  Why are some attitudes stronger than others? Because of our genetic make-up?

9 Psychological Factors Influencing Attitude Strength  Does it directly affect one’s own outcomes and self-interests?  Is it related to deeply held philosophical, political, and religious values?  Is it of concern to one’s close friends, family, and social in-groups?

10 Factors That Indicate the Strength of an Attitude  How well informed is the person?  How was the information on which the attitude is based acquired?  Has the attitude been attacked?  How accessible is the attitude to awareness?

11 Persuasion  The process of changing people’s attitude

12 Two Routes to Persuasion  Central Route Person thinks carefully about a message Influenced by the strength and quality of the message  Peripheral Route Person does not think critically about the contents of a message Influenced by superficial cues

13 The Central Route  Hovland et al. (1949) Persuaded when we attend to, comprehend, and retain in memory an argument.  McGuire (1968) Distinguished between the reception of a message and its later acceptance.  Greenwald (1968) Elaboration is an important, intermediate step  Thoughts that are generated in response to the message  Favorable thoughts lead to attitude change

14 The Central Route  Assumption that the recipients are attentive, active, critical, and thoughtful Assumption is correct only some of the time When it is correct, the persuasiveness of the message depends on the strength of the message’s content  The central route is a thoughtful process But not necessarily an objective one

15 The Peripheral Route  People are persuaded on the basis of superficial, peripheral cues Message is evaluated through the use of simple-minded heuristics  People are also influenced by attitude- irrelevant factors

16 What Makes an Effective Source?  Believable sources must be credible sources  To be seen as credible, the source must have two distinct characteristics: Competence or expertise Trustworthiness  People are convincing when they appear to be arguing against their own self-interest

17 Who Do You Trust?

18 What Makes an Effective Source?  How likable is the communicator?  Two factors influence a source’s likability: The similarity between the source and the audience The physical attractiveness of the source

19 Likability  Mackie et al. (1990) Participants:  UCSB students DV: Persuasion IV 1 : Type of Argument IV 2 : College

20 This supermodel can get you to become a vegetarian…  Chaiken (1979) DV: Persuasion (signing petition) IV: Attractiveness of student assistant Results:  See next slide

21 Chaiken (1979)

22 The Sleeper Effect  Source Amnesia As time passes, people tend to forget the source of a message Consequently, effects of the speaker tend to disappear over time  Unless people are reminded of the source

23 The Sleeper Effect

24 Is The Source More Important Than The Message?  It depends… How personally relevant is the message for the recipient?

25 The Effects of Personal Relevance  Petty & Cacioppo (1984) Asked college students to read arguments in favor of mandatory comprehensive exams Students would be required to pass these exams before being allowed to graduate

26 Petty & Cacioppo (1984)  Issue was either highly relevant to them They would personally have to take the exams to graduate  Or of low relevance to them Policy would not take effect for 10 years – long after they’d graduated

27 Petty & Cacioppo (1984)  Arguments were either high quality “Average starting salaries are higher for graduates of schools with exams”  Or low quality “Exams would allow students to compare performance with other schools”  Some students heard only 3 arguments  Others heard 9 arguments

28 Number of Arguments Attitude Toward Exams High Low Personal Relevance High Personal Relevance Argument Quality For students with a personal stake, more strong arguments were more convincing

29 Number of Arguments Attitude Toward Exams HighLow High Low Argument Personal Relevance Quality But more weak arguments left them less convinced

30 Number of Arguments Attitude Toward Exams HighLow High Low Argument Personal Relevance Quality Students who wouldn’t be affected didn’t process quality

31 Discrepancy  How different is the message from the initial position? Use the cautious approach

32 Fear appeals  Works when coupled with a solution to the problem

33 Mood  Are appeals to positive emotions effective? People are “soft touches” when they are in a good mood.  Janis et al. (1965)  Peanuts and Pepsi experiment

34 Why Might Positive Feelings Activate the Peripheral Route?  A positive emotional state is cognitively distracting, impairing ability to think critically  When in a good mood, assume all is well and become lazy processors of information  When happy, become motivated not to spoil the mood by thinking critically about new information

35 What happens when the “expert” meets your friend???  Experts are more influential when the information is about facts  Similar others are more influential when the information is about opinions

36 Some conclusions regarding persuasion…  If strong arguments are available…. provide many repeat a few times ensure appropriate prior knowledge emphasise personal relevance ensure distraction-free presentation  If not….. distract receivers source credibility

37 Subliminal Persuasion  Can subliminal messages influence behavior? Ex:  Coke and Popcorn (1957)  Rats (2000)  We do perceive subliminal cues… But the cues will not persuade us to take action unless we are already motivated to do so  At least that’s what psychologists say  Advertisers differ

38 Do they use this at Walmart???  Time magazine (1984) 50 department stores in the U.S. and Canada installed a device in attempts to reduce shoplifting and employee theft One undisclosed East Coast chain is said to have cut the number of thefts by 37%, for a savings of $600,000, during a nine-month trial Behind the background music played in stores, there's a subliminal anti-theft message, "I am honest, I will not steal," being played 9,000 times an hour

39 Strahan et al. (2002)

40 Subliminal Persuasion  It appears that regular messages are more effective at persuading us than subliminal messages  Interestingly, however, people are more afraid of subliminal messages than regular messages

41 Audience Factors  Very few people are consistently easy or difficult to persuade  People differ in extent to which become involved and take the central route Need for Cognition: How much does one enjoy effortful cognitive activities?

42 Audience Factors  Synder and DeBono (1985) Felt that high self-monitors could be easily influenced by ads bringing attention to them  DV: Persuasion  IV 1 : self-monitoring type  IV 2 : imagery used

43 Cultural factors  Play a subtle but important role. Individualistic vs. collectivistic messages

44 Audience Factors  Has the audience been forewarned? Advanced knowledge allows time to develop counterarguments  Inoculation hypothesis Being forewarned elicits a motivational reaction  Psychological reactance Effects of forewarning depends on personal importance of message

45 Strategies for Resisting Persuasion (Jacks et al., 2003)

46 Persuasion by our own actions…  Role Playing: All the World’s a Stage What happens when we engage in attitude- discrepant behavior? Why does role-playing lead to enduring attitude change? Why can changes in behavior lead to changes in attitude?

47 Case Study: Patty Hearst  Did she role play Tania?

48 Cognitive Dissonance Theory  Inconsistent cognitions arouse psychological tension that people become motivated to reduce The unpleasant state of psychological arousal resulting from an inconsistency within one's important attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors We are motivated by a desire for cognitive consistency. Can lead to irrational and sometimes maladaptive behavior.

49 Cognitive Dissonance Theory  Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) Perform an excruciatingly boring task – turning pegs in holes Perform an excruciatingly boring task – turning pegs in holes Lie to a waiting “participant” (really a confederate), telling them the study is fun & exciting Lie to a waiting “participant” (really a confederate), telling them the study is fun & exciting Offered $1 or $20 to lie Offered $1 or $20 to lie $20 justifies lying; no dissonance $20 justifies lying; no dissonance $1 insufficient justification for lying; great dissonance

50 Cognitive Dissonance Theory  When later asked their attitudes toward the boring task:  Those receiving $1 payment had come to see it as more enjoyable,  Those receiving $20 hadn't changed their attitudes at all

51 Cognitive Dissonance Theory  Why? Dissonance theory explains: $20 provided adequate justification for misleading another student $1 was insufficient justification, thus arousing dissonance Changing beliefs about the task reduced the cognitive discomfort

52 Justifying Attitude-Discrepant Behavior  Subjects experienced cognitive dissonance because had insufficient justification for lying  Contributions of Festinger & Carlsmith’s classic study: Showed the phenomenon of self-persuasion Contradicted the accepted belief that big rewards produce greater change

53 Cognitive Dissonance Theory  Postdecisional Dissonance The conflict one feels between the knowledge that he or she has made a decision and the possibility that the decision may be wrong  Knox & Inkster (1968) Just seconds after placing a bet, gamblers are more confident their horse will win

54 Justifying Attitude-Discrepant Behavior  Mild punishment is insufficient deterrence for attitude-discrepant nonbehavior The less severe the threatened punishment, the greater the attitude change produced

55 Justifying Effort: Coming to Like What We Suffer For  We alter our attitudes to justify our suffering  The more we pay for something, the more we will come to like it  Aronson & Mills’ (1959) “embarrassment test” study

56 Aronson & Mills’ (1959)  Participants had to pass an “embarrassment test” concerning discussions on sex  Procedures: Listened to boring discussion on sexual behavior of animals  Those that had to undergo toughest tests rated this the most favorably

57 Justifying Difficult Decisions: When Good Choices Get Even Better  Whenever we make difficult decisions, we feel dissonance.  We rationalize the correctness of our decision by exaggerating: The positive features of the chosen alternative The negative features of the unchosen alternative.

58 Alternative Routes to Self-Persuasion  Self-Perception Theory Self-persuasion through observation of own behavior  Impression Management Theory What matters is not a motive to be consistent but rather a motive to appear consistent  Self-Affirmation Theory Dissonance situations create a threat to the self

59 When Self-Affirmation Fails Galinsky et al., 2000.

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