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An evaluation, either positive or negative, of a person, object, event, etc., that is exhibited in thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Typically measured through self-reports (e.g., likert scales)
Other methods:
-Response latency: Based on accessibility or strength of attitude
-Implicit measures: Implicit association test (IAT); good associated with sugar, etc. measured by rt


Lapiere (1934)

First study to demonstrate inconsistency between attitudes and behaviors

-LaPiere and friends were turned away once out of 250 establishments
-When asked 6 monte later, 92% of same establishments said they would not serve someone who was Chinese


Wicker (1969)

Reviewed literature and concluded no attitude-behavior consistency


Theory of reasoned action and planned behavior (Ajzen & Fishein)

Three main predictors of behavior:
-Attitudes towards the behaviors (behavioral attitude)
-Subjetive norms
-Perceived behavioral control

Bottom line:
Attitudes are NOT the only predictors of behavior


Balance theory (Heider)

People try to maintain consistency among their beliefs, cognitions, and attitudes

Uncomfortable if inconsistent


Cognitive dissonance theory (Festinger & Carlsmith, 1959)

People want and need to be consistent

Major assumptions
-people have many pre-existing attitudes
-people prefer consistency among attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors
-inconsistency created an aversive state of arousal (physiologically uncomfortable)
-people may resolve the dissonance by changing their attitudes (attitudes can change through dissonance reduction)


Insufficient justification

Reduction of dissonance by internally justifying one's behavior when the external justification is "insufficient"

If we cannot explain our own behavior, try to rationalize (externally), must be compelling enough, otherwise dissonance problem -> change in attitude

Peg turn study (Festinger & Carlsmith, 1959)
1. Turn a peg a quarter for an hour
2. Asks participant to tell next in like how exciting it was
-> half paid $1 (enjoyed more) other half paid $20 (enjoyed less)


Ways to reduce dissonance

Change your cognitions
Add new cognitions
Change the importance of relevant cognitions (attitudes)


Post-decisional dissonance

A state of psychological dissonance that often occurs after making an important decision

Brehm (1956)
First published dissonance experiment
Studied post-decisional change in the ranking of products
Found spreading of alternative: the things they chose was later ranked significantly higher than the thing they did not choose


Effort justification

Reducing dissonance by finding reasons for having devoted time, effort, or money to something that turned out to be unpleasant or disappointing

Those who undergo harsh hazing, are more committed to their group


Self-perception theory (Bem, 1972)

We simply interpret our attitudes from our behaviors

Primarily a theory of attitude formation, not attitude change (cognitive dissonance deals with change)

Major assumption
-People do not have lots of pre-existing attitudes
-Just like with other people, we infer our own attitudes by perceiving our own behavior (form attitude consistent with behavior, where an attitude did not exist)

Fazio, Effrein, & Falender (1981)- introverted/ extroverted study on self-perception
-leading questions to make them seem intro/extroverted
->may move them a bit up or down from original on the scale, depending on the questions they were given


Overjustification effect

When people believe something "made them do it", they underestimate how much they wanted to do it (did just because of situation, not me)

Greene, Sternberg, & Lepper (1976) Examined kids' interest in a task and how they were rewarded
-class of kids, educational games
-> 1/2 rewarded -> play more, when taken away show no interest

Extrinsic rewards undermined intrinsic motivation

Dissonance theory cannot account for this effect (no arousal)- must be self-perception