You are on page 1of 69

Social Psychology

Elliot Aronson
University of California, Santa Cruz

6th edition

Timothy D. Wilson
University of Virginia

Robin M. Akert
Wellesley College

slides by Travis Langley


Henderson State University

Chapter 7
Attitudes and Attitude Changes:

Influencing Thoughts and Feelings

By persuading others,
we convince ourselves. Junius

Advertising can have powerful effects. Until the early twentieth century, men bought 99% of cigarettes sold. Then advertisers began targeting female buyers. In 1955, there were twice as many male as female smokers in the United States. Although the smoking rate has decreased overall, women have almost caught up to men. In 2004 23% of adult men smoked, compared to 19% of adult women.
Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

THE NATURE AND ORIGIN OF ATTITUDES

Although the smoking rate has decreased overall, women have almost caught up to men. In 2004 23% of adult men smoked, compared to 19% of adult women. But is advertising responsible? To what extent can advertising shape peoples attitudes and behavior? Exactly what is an attitude, anyway, and how is it changed?
Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

THE NATURE AND ORIGIN OF ATTITUDES

THE NATURE AND ORIGIN OF ATTITUDES


People are not neutral observers of the world. They evaluate what they encounter. They form attitudes.
Attitudes Evaluations of people, objects, and ideas.

THE NATURE AND ORIGIN OF ATTITUDES


Attitudes are made up of three parts that together form our evaluation of the attitude object: 1. An affective component, consisting of your emotional reactions toward the attitude object. 2. A cognitive component, consisting of your thoughts and beliefs about the attitude object. 3. A behavioral component, consisting of your actions or observable behavior toward the attitude object.

THE NATURE AND ORIGIN OF ATTITUDES


1. What is your affective reaction when you see a certain car?
Perhaps you have feelings of excitement. If you are a U.S. autoworker examining a new foreignmade model, maybe you feel anger and resentment.

2. What is your cognitive reaction?


What beliefs do you hold about the cars attributes? Perhaps you admire its hybrid engine that makes it one of the most fuel efficient cars you can buy.

3. What is your behavioral reaction?


Do you go to a dealership and test-drive the car and actually buy one?

Where Do Attitudes Come From?


One provocative answer that some attitudes, at least, are linked to our genes. Identical twins share more attitudes than fraternal twins, even when raised in different homes, never knowing each other. Some attitudes are an indirect function of our genetic makeup, related to things like our temperament and personality.

Where Do Attitudes Come From?


Even if there is a genetic component, our social experiences clearly play a large role in shaping our attitudes. Not all attitudes are created equally. Though all attitudes have affective, cognitive, and behavioral components, any given attitude can be based more on one type of experience than another.

Cognitively Based Attitude An attitude based primarily on peoples beliefs about the properties of an attitude object.
Sometimes our attitudes are based primarily on the relevant facts, such as the objective merits of an automobile. How many miles to the gallon does it get? Does it have side-impact air bags?

Affectively Based Attitude An attitude based more on peoples feelings and values than on their beliefs about the nature of an attitude object.
Sometimes we simply like a car, regardless of how many miles to the gallon it gets. Occasionally we even feel great about something or someone in spite of having negative beliefs.

If affectively based attitudes do not come from examining the facts, where do they come from? They can result from: 1. Peoples values, such as religious and moral beliefs, 2. Sensory reaction, such as liking the taste of chocolate , 3. Aesthetic reaction, such as admiring a painting or the lines and color of a car, 4. Conditioning.

Classical Conditioning
The phenomenon whereby a stimulus that elicits an emotional response is repeatedly paired with a neutral stimulus that does not until the neutral stimulus takes on the emotional properties of the first stimulus.

Classical conditioning works this way:


A stimulus that elicits an emotional response is accompanied by a neutral stimulus that does not until eventually the neutral stimulus elicits the emotional response by itself. Suppose that when you were a child, you experienced feelings of warmth and love when you visited your grandmother. Suppose also that her house always smelled faintly of mothballs. Eventually, the smell of mothballs alone will trigger the emotions you experienced during your visits, through the process of classical conditioning.

Operant Conditioning
The phenomenon whereby behaviors that people freely choose to perform increase or decrease in frequency, depending on whether they are followed by positive reinforcement or punishment.

In operant conditioning, behaviors we freely perform become more or less frequent, depending on whether they are followed by a reward (positive reinforcement) or punishment. How does this apply to attitudes? Imagine: A 4-year-old white girl goes to the playground and begins to play with an African American girl. Her father expresses strong disapproval, telling her, We dont play with that kind of child. It wont take long before the child associates interacting with African Americans with disapproval, thereby adopting her fathers racist attitudes.

Operant Conditioning

Although affectively based attitudes come from many sources, we can group them into one family because they: (1)Do not result from a rational examination of the issues, (2)Are not governed by logic (e.g., persuasive arguments about the issues seldom change an affectively based attitude), and (3)Are often linked to peoples values, so that trying to change them challenges those values.

Behaviorally Based Attitude

An attitude based on observations of how one behaves toward an attitude object.


According to Daryl Bems (1972) selfperception theory, under certain circumstances, people dont know how they feel until they see how they behave. We can form our attitudes based on our observations of our own behavior.

Behaviorally Based Attitude

An attitude based on observations of how one behaves toward an attitude object.


People infer their attitudes from their behavior only under certain conditions. 1. Their initial attitude has to be weak or ambiguous. 2. People infer their attitudes from their behavior only when there are no other plausible explanations for their behavior.

Explicit versus Implicit Attitudes


Explicit Attitudes Attitudes that we consciously endorse and can easily report.

Implicit Attitudes
Attitudes that are involuntary, uncontrollable, and at times unconscious.

Explicit versus Implicit Attitudes


Consider Sam, a white, middle-class college student who genuinely believes that all races are equal and abhors any kind of racial bias. This is Sams explicit attitude, in the sense that it is his conscious evaluation of members of other races that governs how he chooses to act. For instance, consistent with his explicit attitude, Sam recently signed a petition in favor of affirmative action policies at his university.

Explicit versus Implicit Attitudes


Sam has grown up in a culture in which there are many negative stereotypes about minority groups, however, and it is possible that some of these negative ideas have seeped into him in ways of which he is not fully aware. When Sam is around African Americans, for example, perhaps some negative feelings are triggered automatically and unintentionally. If so, he has a negative implicit attitude toward African Americans.

Explicit versus Implicit Attitudes


People can have explicit and implicit attitudes toward virtually anything, not just other races. For example, students can believe explicitly that they hate math but have a more positive attitude at an implicit level.

HOW DO ATTITUDES CHANGE?


When attitudes change, they often do so in response to social influence. Our attitudes toward everything from a presidential candidate to a brand of laundry detergent can be influenced by what other people do or say. This is why attitudes are of such interest to social psychologistseven something as personal and internal as an attitude is a highly social phenomenon, influenced by the imagined or actual behavior of other people.

Changing Attitudes by Changing Behavior: Cognitive Dissonance Theory Revisited


As we noted in Chapter 6, people experience dissonance: When they do something that threatens their image of themselves as decent, kind, and honest. Particularly if there is no way they can explain away this behavior as due to external circumstances. When you cant find external justification for your behavior, you will attempt to find internal justification by bringing the two cognitions (your attitude and your behavior) closer together.

Changing Attitudes by Changing Behavior: Cognitive Dissonance Theory Revisited


Suppose you dont want to rub your new father-inlaw the wrong way by arguing with him about politics. You might go along with a mildly positive remark about a politician you actually dislike. Counterattitudinal advocacy, a process by which people are induced to state publicly an opinion or attitude that runs counter to their own private attitudes, creates dissonance. When this is accomplished with a minimum of external justification, it results in a change in peoples private attitude in the direction of the public statement.

Persuasive Communication
Communication (e.g., a speech or television ad) advocating a particular side of an issue.

How should you construct a message so that it would really change peoples attitudes?

Persuasive Communications and Attitude Change


Yale Attitude Change Approach The study of the conditions under which people are most likely to change their attitudes in response to persuasive messages, focusing on who said what to whomthe source of the communication, the nature of the communication, and the nature of the audience.

The Central and Peripheral Routes to Persuasion


Elaboration Likelihood Model An explanation of the two ways in which persuasive communications can cause attitude change: Centrally, when people are motivated and have the ability to pay attention to the arguments in the communication. peripherally, when people do not pay attention to the arguments but are instead swayed by surface characteristics.

The Central and Peripheral Routes to Persuasion


Under certain conditions, people are motivated to pay attention to the facts in a communication, and so they will be most persuaded when these facts are logically compelling.
Central Route to Persuasion The case whereby people elaborate on a persuasive communication, listening carefully to and thinking about the arguments, as occurs when people have both the ability and the motivation to listen carefully to a communication.

The Central and Peripheral Routes to Persuasion


Under other conditions, people are not motivated to pay attention to the facts; instead, they notice only the surface characteristics of the message, such as how long it is and who is delivering it. Peripheral Route to Persuasion The case whereby people do not elaborate on the arguments in a persuasive communication but are instead swayed by peripheral cues.

The Motivation to Pay Attention to the Arguments


One thing that determines whether people are motivated to pay attention to a communication is the personal relevance of the topic: How important is the topic to a persons well-being?

The Motivation to Pay Attention to the Arguments


The more personally relevant an issue is, the more willing people are to pay attention to the arguments in a speech, and therefore the more likely people are to take the central route to persuasion.

The Motivation to Pay Attention to the Arguments


Need for Cognition A personality variable reflecting the extent to which people engage in and enjoy effortful cognitive activities.
People high in the need for cognition are more likely to form their attitudes by paying close attention to relevant arguments (i.e., via the central route), whereas people low in the need for cognition are more likely to rely on peripheral cues, such as how attractive or credible a speaker is.

The Ability to Pay Attention to the Arguments


When people are unable to pay close attention to the arguments, they are swayed more by peripheral cues. Status of communicator Liking or trusting communicator Therefore someone with a weak argument can create distractions (e.g., loud music) to make people more susceptible to peripheral influence.

Compared to people who base their attitudes on peripheral cues, people who base their attitudes on a careful analysis of the arguments will be: More likely to maintain this attitude over time, More likely to behave consistently with this attitude, More resistant to counterpersuasion.

How to Achieve Long-Lasting Attitude Change

Emotion and Attitude Change


Before people will consider your carefully constructed arguments, you have to get their attention. One way is to grab peoples attention by playing to their emotions.

Source of images: Microsoft Office Online.

Fear-Arousing Communications

Fear-Arousing Communications Persuasive messages that attempt to change peoples attitudes by arousing their fears.

Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

Fear-Arousing Communications
Do fear-arousing communications work?
If a moderate amount of fear is created and people believe that listening to the message will teach them how to reduce this fear, they will be motivated to analyze the message carefully and will likely change their attitudes via the central route.
Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

A group of smokers who watched a graphic film depicting lung cancer and then read pamphlets with specific instructions about how to quit smoking reduced their smoking significantly more than people who were shown only the film or only the pamphlet.

Fear-Arousing Communications
Fear-arousing appeals will also fail if they are so strong that they overwhelm people. If people are scared to death, they will become defensive, deny the importance of the threat, and be unable to think rationally about the issue.
Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

Emotions as a Heuristic
HeuristicSystematic Model of Persuasion An explanation of the two ways in which persuasive communications can cause attitude change: either systematically processing the merits of the arguments or using mental shortcuts (heuristics) (e.g., thinking, Experts are always right)

Emotions as a Heuristic
Interestingly, our emotions and moods can themselves act as heuristics to determine our attitudes. When trying to decide attitude about something, we often rely on the How do I feel about it?-heuristic. If we feel good, we must have a positive attitude; if we feel bad, its thumbs down.

Emotions as a Heuristic
The problem with the How do I feel about it? heuristic is that we can make mistakes about what is causing our mood, misattributing feelings created by one source to another. If so, people might make a bad decision. Once you get a new couch home, you might discover that it no longer makes you feel all that great. Advertisers and retailers want to create good feelings while they present their product (e.g., by playing appealing music or showing pleasant images), hoping that people will attribute at least some of those feelings to the product they are trying to sell.
Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

Emotion and Different Types of Attitudes


Several studies have shown that it is best to fight fire with fire: If an attitude is cognitively based, try to change it with rational arguments. If it is affectively based, try to change it with emotional appeals.

Emotion and Different Types of Attitudes


Some ads stress the objective merits of a product, such as an ad for an air conditioner or a vacuum cleaner that discusses its price, efficiency, and reliability. Other ads stress emotions and values, such as ones for perfume or designer jeans that try to associate their brands with sex, beauty, and youthfulness, rather than saying anything about the objective qualities of the product. Which kind of ad is most effective?

Culture and Different Types of Attitudes


Perhaps people in Western cultures base their attitudes more on concerns about individuality and self-improvement, whereas people in Asian cultures base their attitudes more on concerns about their standing in their social group, such as their families. If so, advertisements that stress individuality and self-improvement might work better in Western cultures, and advertisements that stress ones social group might work better in Asian cultures.

RESISTING PERSUASIVE MESSAGES


Attitude Inoculation Making people immune to attempts to change their attitudes by initially exposing them to small doses of the arguments against their position.

Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

RESISTING PERSUASIVE MESSAGES


Being Alert to Product Placement When an advertisement comes on during a TV show, people often decide to press the mute button on the remote control or to get up and get a snack. To counteract this tendency to tune out, advertisers look for ways of displaying their wares during the show itself. With this technique, called product placement, companies pay the makers of a TV show or movie to incorporate their product into the script.

RESISTING PERSUASIVE MESSAGES


Being Alert to Product Placement When an advertisement comes on during a TV people are forewarned, they analyze show, people oftenhear more press the and as what they see and decide to carefully mute button on the remote control or to get up and a result are likely to avoid attitude change. get a snack. warnings, people pay little Without such To counteract this tendency to tune out, tend attention to the persuasive attempts and advertisers lookat face value. to accept them for ways of displaying their wares during the show itself. So before kids watch TV or sending them off to With this technique, called product placement, the movies, it is good to remind them that they companies pay the makers of a TV show or are likely to encounter several attempts to movie to incorporate their product into the script. change their attitudes.

RESISTING PERSUASIVE MESSAGES


Resisting Peer Pressure Peer pressure is linked to values and emotions, playing on their fear of rejection and their desire for freedom and autonomy. In adolescence, peers become an important source of social approvalperhaps the most importantand can dispense powerful rewards for holding certain attitudes or behaving in certain ways, such as using drugs or engaging in unprotected sex. What is needed is a technique that will make young people more resistant to attitude change attempts via peer pressure so that they will be less likely to engage in dangerous behaviors.

RESISTING PERSUASIVE MESSAGES


Resisting Peer Pressure One possibility is to extend the logic of the attitude inoculation approach to more affectively based persuasion techniques, such as peer pressure. In addition to inoculating people with doses of logical arguments that they might hear, we could also inoculate them with samples of the kinds of emotional appeals they might encounter.

Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

When Persuasion Attempts Boomerang: Reactance Theory


Reactance Theory The idea that when people feel their freedom to perform a certain behavior is threatened, an unpleasant state of reactance is aroused, which they can reduce by performing the threatened behavior.

Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

WHEN WILL ATTITUDES PREDICT BEHAVIOR?


The relationship between attitudes and behavior is not simple, as shown in a classic study (LaPiere, 1934): In the early 1930s, Richard LaPiere embarked on a crosscountry sightseeing trip with a young Chinese couple. Prejudice against Asians was common in the United States at this time, so at each hotel, campground, and restaurant they entered, LaPiere worried that his friends would be refused service. To his surprise, of the 251 establishments he and his friends visited, only one refused to serve them. And yet when surveyed, only one replied that it would serve a Chinese visitor. More than 90 percent said they definitely would not; the rest were undecided.

Predicting Spontaneous Behaviors


Attitudes will predict spontaneous behaviors only when they are highly accessible to people. Attitude Accessibility The strength of the association between an attitude object and a persons evaluation of that object, measured by the speed with which people can report how they feel about the object.

Predicting Deliberative Behaviors


Theory of Planned Behavior The idea that the best predictors of a persons planned, deliberate behaviors are the persons attitudes toward specific behaviors, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control.

Predicting Deliberative Behaviors


Specific behaviors: The theory of planned behavior holds that only specific attitudes toward the behavior in question can be expected to predict that behavior. Subjective norms: We also need to measure peoples subjective normstheir beliefs about how people they care about will view the behavior in question. Perceived behavioral control: Intentions are influenced by the ease with which they believe they can perform the behavior.

THE POWER OF ADVERTISING


It turns out that people are influenced by advertisements more than they think. The results of over three hundred split cable market tests indicate that advertising does work, particularly for new products. Effective ads worked quickly, increasing sales substantially within the first six months they were shown.
Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

THE POWER OF ADVERTISING


Subliminal Messages Words or pictures that are not consciously perceived but may nevertheless influence peoples judgments, attitudes, and behaviors. Simply stated, there is no evidence that the types of subliminal messages encountered in everyday life have any influence on peoples behavior.
Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

Advertising, Cultural Stereotypes, and Social Behavior


Advertisements transmit cultural stereotypes in their words and images, subtly linking products with desired images. Advertisements can also reinforce and perpetuate stereotypical ways of thinking about social groups.

Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

Gender stereotypes are particularly pervasive in advertising imagery. Men are depicted as doers, women as observers.

Advertising, Cultural Stereotypes, and Social Behavior


Stereotype Threat The apprehension experienced by members of a group that their behavior might confirm a cultural stereotype.

Social Psychology
Elliot Aronson
University of California, Santa Cruz

6th edition

Timothy D. Wilson
University of Virginia

Robin M. Akert
Wellesley College

slides by Travis Langley


Henderson State University