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The nature of attitude

- Evaluation of a person, object or idea
Affective: feelings towards something
Cognitive: appraisal of pros and cons
Behavioural: look to what you do

-The significance of each component varies in terms of the issue in question.
- Issues that are tied to our symbolic beliefs (value system) will give rise to affectively-based attitudes; these are hard to change
- When attitude is weak or ambiguous we base our attitude on our behaviour
Ex; how do you feel about carrots = oh I don’t know, never thought about it; I don’t really eat them; guess I don’t like them


STUDY: Attitude toward homosexuality

- STUDY: 1993 – attitudes toward homosexuality
- Questionnaire with all three evaluations (affective, cognitive, behavioural)
A – feelings experiences when thinking about homosexuality
C – values promoted/hindered by homosexuality
C – characteristics homosexuals posses
B – frequency and nature of contact with homosexuals
RESULTS: the cognitive beliefs were the strongest predictors of overall positive or negative attitude
• In negative attitude: cognitive component most important
• In positive attitude: affective component most important


Attitude strength

Four component determining strength
1) Ambivalence (if you’re ambivalent, you don’t care – neutral)
- Vulnerable to change attitude
2) Accessibility
- How easily the attitude comes to mind
- More easily accessible = stronger attitude
3) Subjective experiences
- How easily you can generate arguments in favour of your position
- More easily = stronger attitude
4) Autobiographical recall
- How easily can you recall behaving in a manner consistent with your attitude
- Easily recall = stronger attitude


Attitudes and predicting behaviour

Spontaneous behaviours
- Automatic processing
- Attitude = highly accessible
- Implicit attitudes
Ex: sign a petition
Deliberative behaviours
- Controlled processing
- Attitude = not highly accessible
- Based on behavioural intentions
- Explicit attitudes
Ex: condom use


Theory of planned behaviour

STUDY: Anjzen – behavioural intention is determined by
1) Behavioural attitude
Ex: I care a lot about women’s issues, I want to participate in the women’s march
2) Subjective norms
- How people around me view that behaviours
Ex: I want to participate in the women’s march, but my friend’s think it’s stupid and too excessive
3) Perceived behavioural control
- Extent to which you think you can carry out the behaviour
Ex: I want to participate, but I can’t, I’m going to miss my class or work…

Example: Condom use
- Factors influencing condom use
Environment (risk-taking)


Attitude change

Important to advertising
Yale advertising change approach


Yale Attitude Change Approach - WHO: Source of the communication

- Credible
Obvious expertise
- Attractive
Looks and personality


Yale Attitude Change Approach - WHAT: Nature of the communication

- Ppl. more persuaded by messages that do not seem to be designed to influence them
- Two-sided messages (for and against)
- Primacy effect – ppl more influenced by what they hear first: Better when speeches are back to back and delay before having to choose
- Recency effect – ppl remember most recent speech better than first: Better when speeches are one after the other and then have to choose right away


YACA- To WHOM: Nature of the audience

- Distracted audience is more easily persuaded than when not distracted
Why? When automatic; you just go along with it
- Low intelligence = more easily influenced
- Moderate self-esteem = easily influenced than low or high
Why? High self esteem = know what we want etc therefore we just do it regardless and Low self-esteem = don’t take risks…so nothing chosen
- Susceptible to attitude change when 18-25 y.o. **(most likely younger than that)**
- Beyond those ages people’s attitudes more stable


Elaboration likelihood model

- Depends on processing route – central vs. peripheral (control vs. automatic)
- Central motivation: motivation + ability to pay attention (actually pay attention and decide)
- Peripheral: no motivation + no ability (swayed by peripheral cues like attractiveness)


Heuristic-systematic persuasion model

-Depends on processing route – heuristic vs. systematic
- Systematic: motivation +ability to pay attention
- Heuristics: no motivation + no ability


Mood + route selection

Good mood = peripheral route, maintain mood
Bad mood = central route, analyze argument


Motivation and ability in attitude change

- Personal relevance of the topic
- Need for cognition – need to understand things and how things work
- High on need for cognition: focus on facts
- Low on need for cognition: focus on speaker
- Complexity of argument
- Easy = central; difficult = peripheral


Route selected + permanency of change

Central route = more permanent/resistant attitude
Peripheral = attitude more easily swayed


Fear and attitude change

Can lead to attitude change only when
- Information about changing behaviour is available
- Level of fear - too intense we turn off



-Tailor ad to suit the attitude base
Ex: heartburn medication; cognitive base
Ex: long-distance phone plans; affective base
- Individualistic (western) cultures: self-improvement
- Collectivist (eastern) cultures: group-improvement
- Make product personally relevant
Ex: Listerine ad “halitosis”
- Slam the competition
Doesn’t work unless you give a more balanced approach
- Subliminal Advertising
Students told that subliminal ads don’t exist – then askes: Which ad would you prefer to watch – one with direct advertising or one with subliminal advertising? 80% said they’d prefer direct…
- You can subliminally prime individuals – but only seen in laboratory conditions


Attitude innoculation

- process of making people immune to attempts to change their attitudes by exposing them to small doses of counter arguments


Cognitive dissonance

- Uncomfortable feeling experiences when behaviour is at odds with our attitudes/principles/beliefs
- Solution
a) Change behaviour
b) Change cognition
Ex: smokers – “is it really that bad for you? Are the stats real?” etc.
c_Add new cognitions
Ex: “yeah, smoking is bad for me, but so what…I’m going to die eventually anyway”


Post-decision dissonance

- Dissonance experienced when we make a decision
a) Enhance attractiveness of chosen alternative
b) Devalue the rejected alternative

women go in and rate appliances then they get to choose one of the 2 that they gave a high rating to…then later get to re-rate them – people re-evaluated their rating and rated the one they ended up choosing much higher than before

- Dissonance reduction greatest when having to choose between two unattractive alternatives
- The more permanent and irrevocable the decision, the greater the need to reduce dissonance
- Dissonance experiences alter values, especially where difficult moral decisions are concerned
Ex: cheating experiment; asked how they feel about cheating (all said bad); offered a prize for good scores on a quiz; made it easy to cheat; some did, some didn’t; the ones that cheated later rated cheating as less terrible and the ones that didn’t cheat rated cheating as even worse


Justification effect

- Dissonance can also be experiences when we invest a lot of effort in obtaining a seemingly unworthy goal (ex: initiation rituals, boot camp)
- Solution: justify efforts by increasing liking for group/event


Insufficient Justification

- When we experience dissonance we look to both external and internal justifications of our behaviour
1) Sufficient external justification
Dissonance will be low = no change required
2) Insufficient external justification
Dissonance will be high
Look inward to justify behaviour
Change in attitude or behaviour

STUDY: perform boring task; at end of task researcher says “next wave is waiting, can you just tell them it was fun?” – asked to lie; in one scenario they are offered 20$ to tell the lie, in other scenario offered 1$ to say the lie; then phone up participants who were asked to lie for 20$ and asked what they thought of experiment – they said totally boring (sufficient external justification for lying); the 1$ people when followed up said it wasn’t so bad (insufficient external justification to justify their lying; so come up with another justification for why they lied by changing cognition)


Counter-attitudinal advocacy

- State an opinion or attitude that goes counter to your own
- Results in change of attitude
- Change in attitude is greater if coupled with hypocrisy induction


Punishment and Attitude Change

- Harsh punishment
Sufficient external justification
Low dissonance
Requires constant vigilance
Doesn’t change behaviour permanently
- Insufficient external justification
Insufficient external justification
Induces dissonance
Reduced by devaluing the forbidden activity, or object

If you want to bring about an attitude change, you must use mild punishment.
If the punishment is too severe, it provides sufficient external justification for ceasing the behavior – but it is not going to result in a permanent change. Stop policing + undesirable behavior resurfaces.
When the punishment is insufficient, the person will experience a state of dissonance – why am I not engaging in this behavior I normally enjoy doing? It’s not because the punishment is harsh, therefore, it must be because I no longer value that activity.


Rationalization Trap

- We may also experience dissonance when we harm others
- One way to resolve this dissonance is by derogating the victim
- Danger: can lead to a continuation, or escalation of violence against them – rationalization trap