Definitions of Attitude Essay
Definitions of Attitude
An attitude can be defined as a positive or negative evaluation of people, objects, event, activities, ideas, or just about anything in your environment, but there is debate about precise definitions. Eagly and Chaiken, for example, define an attitude “a psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or disfavor.” Though it is sometimes common to define an attitude as affect toward an object, affect (i.e., discrete emotions or overall arousal) is generally understood to be distinct from attitude as a measure of favorability. This definition of attitude allows for one’s evaluation of an attitude object to vary from extremely negative to extremely positive, but also admits that people can also be conflicted or ambivalent toward an object meaning that they might at different times express both positive and negative attitude toward the same object.
This has led to some discussion of whether individual can hold multiple attitudes toward the same object. Whether attitudes are explicit (i.e., deliberately formed) versus implicit (i.e., subconscious) has been a topic of considerable research. Research on implicit attitudes, which are generally unacknowledged or outside of awareness, uses sophisticated methods involving people’s response times to stimuli to show that implicit attitudes exist (perhaps in tandem with explicit attitudes of the same object). Implicit and explicit attitudes seem to affect people’s behavior, though in different ways. They tend not to be strongly associated with each other, although in some cases they are. The relationship between them is poorly understood.
Attitude is one of Jung’s 57 definitions in Chapter XI of Psychological Types. Jung’s definition of attitude is a “readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way” (Jung,  1971:par. 687). Attitudes very often come in pairs, one conscious and the other unconscious. Within this broad definition Jung defines several attitudes. The main (but not only) attitude dualities that Jung defines are the following.
• Consciousness and the unconscious. The “presence of two attitudes is extremely frequent, one conscious and the other unconscious. This means that consciousness has a constellation of contents different from that of the unconscious, a duality particularly evident in neurosis” (Jung,  1971: par. 687).
• Extraversion and introversion. This pair is so elementary to Jung’s theory of types that he labeled them the “attitude-types”.
• Rational and irrational attitudes. “I conceive reason as an attitude” (Jung,  1971: par. 785).
• The rational attitude subdivides into the thinking and feeling psychological functions, each with its attitude.
• The irrational attitude subdivides into the sensing and intuition psychological functions, each with its attitude. “There is thus a typical thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuitive attitude” (Jung,  1971: par. 691).
• Individual and social attitudes. Many of the latter are “isms”. In addition, Jung discusses the abstract attitude. “When I take an abstract attitude…” (Jung,  1971: par. 679). Abstraction is contrasted with concretism. “CONCRETISM. By this I mean a peculiarity of thinking and feeling which is the antithesis of abstraction” (Jung,  1971: par. 696). For example: “I hate his attitude for being Sarcastic.”
The classic, tripartite view offered by William J. McGuire is that an attitude contains cognitive, affective, and behavioral components. Empirical research, however, fails to support clear distinctions between thoughts, emotions, and behavioral intentions associated with a particular attitude. A criticism of the tripartite view of attitudes is that it requires cognitive, affective, and behavioral associations of an attitude to be consistent, but this may be implausible.
Thus some views of attitude structure see the cognitive and behavioral components as derivative of affect or affect and behavior as derivative of underlying beliefs. Despite debate about the particular structure of attitudes, there is considerable evidence that attitudes reflect more than evaluations of a particular object that vary from positive to negative. Attitudes also have other characteristics, such as importance, certainty, or accessibility (measures of attitude strength) and associated knowledge. There is also considerable interest in inter-attitudinal structure, which connects different attitudes to one another and to more underlying psychological structures, such as values or ideology.
Another classic view of attitudes is that attitudes serve particular functions for individuals. That is, researchers have tried to understand why individuals hold particular attitudes or why they hold attitudes in general by considering how attitudes affect the individuals who hold them. Daniel Katz, for example, writes that attitudes can serve “instrumental, adjustive or utilitarian,” “ego-defensive,” “value-expressive,” or “knowledge” functions.
The functional view of attitudes suggests that in order for attitudes to change (e.g., via persuasion), appeals must be made to the function(s) that a particular attitude serves for the individual. As an example, the “ego-defensive” function might be used to influence the racially prejudicial attitudes of an individual who sees themselves as open-minded and tolerant. By appealing to that individual’s image of themselves as tolerant and open-minded, it may be possible to change their prejudicial attitudes to be more consistent with their self-concept. Similarly, a persuasive message that threatens self-image is much more likely to be rejected.
According to Doob (1947), learning can account for most of the attitudes we hold. Theories of classical conditioning, instrumental conditioning and social learning are mainly responsible for formation of attitude. Unlike personality, attitudes are expected to change as a function of experience. Tesser (1993) has argued that hereditary variables may affect attitudes – but believes that they may do so indirectly. For example, consistency theories, which imply that we must be consistent in our beliefs and values. As with any type of heritability, to determine if a particular trait has a basis in our genes, twin studies are used.
The most famous example of such a theory is Dissonance-reduction theory, associated with Leon Festinger, which explains that when the components of an attitude (including belief and behavior) are at odds an individual may adjust one to match the other (for example, adjusting a belief to match a behavior). Other theories include balance theory, origincally proposed by Heider (1958), and the self-perception theory, originally proposed by Daryl Bem.
Main article: Attitude change
Attitudes can be changed through persuasion and an important domain of research on attitude change focuses on responses to communication. Experimental research into the factors that can affect the persuasiveness of a message include:
1. Target Characteristics: These are characteristics that refer to the person who receives and processes a message. One such trait is intelligence – it seems that more intelligent people are less easily persuaded by one-sided messages. Another variable that has been studied in this category is self-esteem. Although it is sometimes thought that those higher in self-esteem are less easily persuaded, there is some evidence that the relationship between self-esteem and persuasibility is actually curvilinear, with people of moderate self-esteem being more easily persuaded than both those of high and low self-esteem levels (Rhodes & Woods, 1992). The mind frame and mood of the target also plays a role in this process.
2. Source Characteristics: The major source characteristics are expertise, trustworthiness and interpersonal attraction or attractiveness. The credibility of a perceived message has been found to be a key variable here; if one reads a report about health and believes it came from a professional medical journal, one may be more easily persuaded than if one believes it is from a popular newspaper. Some psychologists have debated whether this is a long-lasting effect and Hovland and Weiss (1951) found the effect of telling people that a message came from a credible source disappeared after several weeks (the so-called “sleeper effect”). Whether there is a sleeper effect is controversial. Perceived wisdom is that if people are informed of the source of a message before hearing it, there is less likelihood of a sleeper effect than if they are told a message and then told its source.
3. Message Characteristics: The nature of the message plays a role in persuasion. Sometimes presenting both sides of a story is useful to help change attitudes. When people are not motivated to process the message, simply the number of arguments presented in a persuasive message will influence attitude change, such that a greater number of arguments will produce greater attitude change.
4. Cognitive Routes: A message can appeal to an individual’s cognitive evaluation to help change an attitude. In the central route to persuasion the individual is presented with the data and motivated to evaluate the data and arrive at an attitude changing conclusion. In the peripheral route to attitude change, the individual is encouraged to not look at the content but at the source. This is commonly seen in modern advertisements that feature celebrities. In some cases, physician, doctors or experts are used. In other cases film stars are used for their attractiveness.
Emotion and attitude change
Emotion is a common component in persuasion, social influence, and attitude change. Much of attitude research emphasized the importance of affective or emotion components. Emotion works hand-in-hand with the cognitive process, or the way we think, about an issue or situation. Emotional appeals are commonly found in advertising, health campaigns and political messages. Recent examples include no-smoking health campaigns and political campaign advertising emphasizing the fear of terrorism. Attitudes and attitude objects are functions of cognitive, affective and conative components. Attitudes are part of the brain’s associative networks, the spider-like structures residing in long term memory that consist of affective and cognitive nodes.
By activating an affective or emotion node, attitude change may be possible, though affective and cognitive components tend to be intertwined. In primarily affective networks, it is more difficult to produce cognitive counterarguments in the resistance to persuasion and attitude change. Affective forecasting, otherwise known as intuition or the prediction of emotion, also impacts attitude change. Research suggests that predicting emotions is an important component of decision making, in addition to the cognitive processes. How we feel about an outcome may override purely cognitive rationales.
In terms of research methodology, the challenge for researchers is measuring emotion and subsequent impacts on attitude. Since we cannot see into the brain, various models and measurement tools have been constructed to obtain emotion and attitude information. Measures may include the use of physiological cues like facial expressions, vocal changes, and other body rate measures. For instance, fear is associated with raised eyebrows, increased heart rate and increase body tension (Dillard, 1994). Other methods include concept or network mapping, and using primes or word cues in the era .
Components of emotion appeals
Any discrete emotion can be used in a persuasive appeal; this may include jealousy, disgust, indignation, fear, blue, disturbed, haunted,and anger. Fear is one of the most studied emotional appeals in communication and social influence research. Important consequences of fear appeals and other emotion appeals include the possibility of reactance which may lead to either message rejections or source rejection and the absence of attitude change. As the EPPM suggests, there is an optimal emotion level in motivating attitude change. If there is not enough motivation, an attitude will not change; if the emotional appeal is overdone, the motivation can be paralyzed thereby preventing attitude change. Emotions perceived as negative or containing threat are often studied more than perceived positive emotions like humor.
Though the inner-workings of humor are not agreed upon, humor appeals may work by creating incongruities in the mind. Recent research has looked at the impact of humor on the processing of political messages. While evidence is inconclusive, there appears to be potential for targeted attitude change is receivers with low political message involvement. Important factors that influence the impact of emotion appeals include self efficacy, attitude accessibility, issue involvement, and message/source features. Self efficacy is a perception of one’s own human agency; in other words, it is the perception of our own ability to deal with a situation. It is an important variable in emotion appeal messages because it dictates a person’s ability to deal with both the emotion and the situation.
For example, if a person is not self-efficacious about their ability to impact the global environment, they are not likely to change their attitude or behavior about global warming. Dillard (1994) suggests that message features such as source non-verbal communication, message content, and receiver differences can impact the emotion impact of fear appeals. The characteristics of a message are important because one message can elicit different levels of emotion for different people. Thus, in terms of emotion appeals messages, one size does not fit all. Attitude accessibility refers to the activation of an attitude from memory in other words, how readily available is an attitude about an object, issue, or situation. Issue involvement is the relevance and salience of an issue or situation to an individual. Issue involvement has been correlated with both attitude access and attitude strength. Past studies conclude accessible attitudes are more resistant to change.
This section requires expansion. (September 2012)
The effects of attitudes on behaviors represents a significant research enterprise within psychology. Two theoretical approaches have dominated this research: the theory of reasoned action and, its theoretical descendant, the theory of planned behavior, both of which are associated with Icek Ajzen. Both of these theories describe the link between attitude and behavior as a deliberative process, with an individual actively choosing to engage in an attitude-related behavior.
An alternative model, called MODE for “Motivation and Opportunity as DEterminants” was proposed by Russell H. Fazio, which focuses on motivations and opportunities for deliberative attitude-related behavior to occur. MODE is a Dual process theory that expects deliberative attitude-behavior linkages – like those modeled by the theory of planned behavior – only occur when individuals have motivation to reflect upon their own attitudes.
Theory of reasoned action
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The theory of reasoned action (TRA), is a model for the prediction of behavioral intention, spanning predictions of attitude and predictions of behavior. The subsequent separation of behavioral intention from behavior allows for explanation of limiting factors on attitudinal influence (Ajzen, 1980). The Theory of Reasoned Action was developed by Martin Fishbein and Icek Ajzen (1975, 1980), derived from previous research that started out as the theory of attitude, which led to the study of attitude and behavior. The theory was “born largely out of frustration with traditional attitude–behavior research, much of which found weak correlations between attitude measures and performance of volitional behaviors” (Hale, Householder & Greene, 2003, p. 259).
Definition and example
Derived from the social psychology setting, the theory of reasoned action (TRA) was proposed by Ajzen and Fishbein (1975 & 1980). The components of TRA are three general constructs: behavioral intention (BI), attitude (A), and subjective norm (SN). TRA suggests that a person’s behavioral intention depends on the person’s attitude about the behavior and subjective norms (BI = A + SN). If a person intends to do a behavior then it is likely that the person will do it. Behavioral intention measures a person’s relative strength of intention to perform a behavior. Attitude consists of beliefs about the consequences of performing the behavior multiplied by his or her evaluation of these consequences. (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975) Subjective norm is seen as a combination of perceived expectations from relevant individuals or groups along with intentions to comply with these expectations.
In other words, “the person’s perception that most people who are important to him or her think he should or should not perform the behavior in question” (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975). To put the definition into simple terms: a person’s volitional (voluntary) behavior is predicted by his/her attitude toward that behavior and how he/she thinks other people would view them if they performed the behavior. A person’s attitude, combined with subjective norms, forms his/her behavioral intention.
Fishbein and Ajzen say, though, that attitudes and norms are not weighted equally in predicting behavior. “Indeed, depending on the individual and the situation, these factors might be very different effects on behavioral intention; thus a weight is associated with each of these factors in the predictive formula of the theory. For example, you might be the kind of person who cares little for what others think. If this is the case, the subjective norms would carry little weight in predicting your behavior” (Miller, 2005, p. 127). Miller (2005) defines each of the three components of the theory as follows and uses the example of embarking on a new exercise program to illustrate the theory:
• Attitudes: the sum of beliefs about a particular behavior weighted by evaluations of these beliefs
○ You might have the beliefs that exercise is good for your health, that exercise makes you look good, that exercise takes too much time, and that exercise is uncomfortable. Each of these beliefs can be weighted (e.g., health issues might be more important to you than issues of time and comfort).
• Subjective norms: looks at the influence of people in one’s social environment on his/her behavioral intentions; the beliefs of people, weighted by the importance one attributes to each of their opinions, will influence one’s behavioral intention
○ You might have some friends who are avid exercisers and constantly encourage you to join them. However, your spouse might prefer a more sedentary lifestyle and scoff at those who work out. The beliefs of these people, weighted by the importance you attribute to each of their opinions, will influence your behavioral intention to exercise, which will lead to your behavior to exercise or not exercise.
• Behavioral intention: a function of both attitudes toward a behavior and subjective norms toward that behavior, which has been found to predict actual behavior.
○ Your attitudes about exercise combined with the subjective norms about exercise, each with their own weight, will lead you to your intention to exercise (or not), which will then lead to your actual behavior.
In psychology, the theory of planned behavior is a theory about the link between attitudes and behavior. The concept was proposed by Icek Ajzen to improve on the predictive power of the theory of reasoned action by including perceived behavioural control. It is one of the most predictive persuasion theories. It has been applied to studies of the relations among beliefs, attitudes, behavioral intentions and behaviors in various fields such as advertising, public relations, advertising campaigns and healthcare. The theory states that attitude toward behavior, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control, together shape an individual’s behavioral intentions and behaviors.
Extension from the theory of reasoned action
The theory of planned behavior was proposed by Icek Ajzen in 1985 through his article “From intentions to actions: A theory of planned behavior.” The theory was developed from the theory of reasoned action, which was proposed by Martin Fishbein together with Icek Ajzen in 1975. The theory of reasoned action was in turn grounded in various theories of attitude such as learning theories, expectancy-value theories, consistency theories, and attribution theory. According to the theory of reasoned action, if people evaluate the suggested behavior as positive (attitude), and if they think their significant others want them to perform the behavior (subjective norm), this results in a higher intention (motivation) and they are more likely to do so.
A high correlation of attitudes and subjective norms to behavioral intention, and subsequently to behavior, has been confirmed in many studies. A counter-argument against the high relationship between behavioral intention and actual behavior has also been proposed, as the results of some studies show that, because of circumstantial limitations, behavioral intention does not always lead to actual behavior. Namely, since behavioral intention cannot be the exclusive determinant of behavior where an individual’s control over the behavior is incomplete, Ajzen introduced the theory of planned behavior by adding a new component, “perceived behavioral control.” By this, he extended the theory of reasoned action to cover non-volitional behaviors for predicting behavioral intention and actual behavior.
Extension of self-efficacy
In addition to attitudes and subjective norms (which make the theory of reasoned action), the theory of planned behavior adds the concept of perceived behavioral control, which originates from self-efficacy theory (SET). Self-efficacy was proposed by Bandura in 1977, which came from social cognitive theory. According to Bandura, expectations such as motivation, performance, and feelings of frustration associated with repeated failures determine effect and behavioral reactions. Bandura (1986)[full citation needed] separated expectations into two distinct types: self-efficacy and outcome expectancy. He defined self-efficacy as the conviction that one can successfully execute the behavior required to produce the outcomes.
The outcome expectancy refers to a person’s estimation that a given behavior will lead to certain outcomes. He states that self-efficacy is the most important precondition for behavioral change, since it determines the initiation of coping behavior. Previous investigations have shown that peoples’ behavior is strongly influenced by their confidence in their ability to perform that behavior (Bandura, Adams, Hardy, & Howells, 1980).[full citation needed] As the self-efficacy theory contributes to explaining various relationships between beliefs, attitudes, intentions, and behavior, the SET has been widely applied to health-related fields such as physical activity and mental health in preadolescents, and exercise. Concepts of key variables
Behavioral beliefs and attitude toward behavior
• Behavioral belief: an individual’s belief about consequences of particular behavior. The concept is based on the subjective probability that the behavior will produce a given outcome.
• Attitude toward behavior: an individual’s positive or negative evaluation of self-performance of the particular behavior. The concept is the degree to which performance of the behavior is positively or negatively valued. It is determined by the total set of accessible behavioral beliefs linking the behavior to various outcomes and other attributes.
Normative beliefs and subjective norms
• Normative belief: an individual’s perception about the particular behavior, which is influenced by the judgment of significant others (e.g., parents, spouse, friends, teachers).
• Subjective norm: an individual’s perception of social normative pressures, or relevant others’ beliefs that he or she should or should not perform such behavior. Control beliefs and perceived behavioral control
• Perceived behavioral control: an individual’s perceived ease or difficulty of performing the particular behavior (Ajzen, 1988).[full citation needed] It is assumed that perceived behavioral control is determined by the total set of accessible control beliefs.
• Control beliefs: an individual’s beliefs about the presence of factors that may facilitate or impede performance of the behavior (Ajzen, 2001).[full citation needed] The concept of perceived behavioral control is conceptually related to self-efficacy.
Behavioral intention and behavior
• Behavioral intention: an indication of an individual’s readiness to perform a given behavior. It is assumed to be an immediate antecedent of behavior (Ajzen, 2002b).[full citation needed] It is based on attitude toward the behavior, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control, with each predictor weighted for its importance in relation to the behavior and population of interest.
• Behavior: an individual’s observable response in a given situation with respect to a given target. Ajzen said a behavior is a function of compatible intentions and perceptions of behavioral control in that perceived behavioral control is expected to moderate the effect of intention on behavior, such that a favorable intention produces the behavior only when perceived behavioral control is strong.
Cognitive dissonance is a term used in modern psychology to describe the feeling of discomfort when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting cognitions: ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions. In a state of dissonance, people may sometimes feel “disequilibrium”: frustration, hunger, dread, guilt, anger, embarrassment, anxiety, etc. The phrase was coined by Leon Festinger in his 1956 book When Prophecy Fails, which chronicled the followers of a UFO cult as reality clashed with their fervent belief in an impending apocalypse. Festinger subsequently published a book called “A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance”, published in 1957, in which he outlines the theory.
Cognitive dissonance is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology. The theory of cognitive dissonance in social psychology proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by altering existing cognitions, adding new ones to create a consistent belief system, or alternatively by reducing the importance of any one of the dissonant elements. It is the distressing mental state that people feel when they “find themselves doing things that don’t fit with what they know, or having opinions that do not fit with other opinions they hold.”  A key assumption is that people want their expectations to meet reality, creating a sense of equilibrium. 
Likewise, another assumption is that a person will avoid situations or information sources that give rise to feelings of uneasiness, or dissonance. Cognitive dissonance theory explains human behavior by positing that people have a bias to seek consonance between their expectations and reality. According to Festinger, people engage in a process he termed “dissonance reduction”, which can be achieved in one of three ways: lowering the importance of one of the discordant factors, adding consonant elements, or changing one of the dissonant factors. This bias sheds light on otherwise puzzling, irrational, and even destructive behavior.
The elaboration likelihood model (ELM) of persuasion is a dual process theory of how attitudes are formed and changed that was developed by Richard E. Petty and John Cacioppo in the early 1980s (see also attitude change). The model proposes an “elaboration continuum,” which determines the extent to which arguments are processed and evaluated (high elaboration) versus peripheral cues such as source expertise or attractiveness (low elaboration) shape persuasion. The model is similar to the Heuristic-systematic model of information processing developed around the same time by Shelly Chaiken.
Central route processes require the audience to use a great deal more thought, and therefore are likely to predominate under conditions that promote high elaboration. Central route processes involve careful scrutiny of a persuasive communication (e.g., a speech, an advertisement, etc.) to determine the merits of the arguments. Under these conditions, a person’s unique cognitive responses to the message determine the persuasive outcome. If a person evaluates a message centrally as reliable, well-constructed, and convincing, it will often be received as favorable even if it is contrasting to the receiver’s original stance on the message.
So, if favorable thoughts are a result of the elaboration process, the message will most likely be accepted (i.e., an attitude congruent with the message’s position will emerge), and if unfavorable thoughts are generated while considering the merits of presented arguments, the message will most likely be rejected. In order for the message to be centrally processed, a person must have the ability and motivation to do so. In order for the receiver to have motivation to centrally process a message it must have relevance to him or her.
Peripheral route processes, on the other hand, does not involve elaboration of the message through extensive cognitive processing of the merits of the actual argument presented. These processes often rely on environmental characteristics of the message, like the perceived credibility of the source, quality of the way in which it is presented, the attractiveness of the source, or the catchy slogan that contains the message. It is also frequently used when the argument presented is weak and/or lacking evidence. The peripheral route is a mental shortcut process that accepts or rejects a message based on irrelevant cues as opposed to actively thinking about the issue  The peripheral route is a process in which outside influences affect the decision making process.
This is also the process used when the audience is unable to process the message. This could be from having a message that is too complex, or an audience that is immature. The most common influences would be factors such as reward. Reward could be objects like food, sex or money. These inducements create a quick change in mind and action. Celebrity status along with likability and expertise are other factors in the peripheral process that have become more popular. Humor within messages is a dominant influence in this process as well. Appearance also has the ability to gain the attention of individuals which can create an interest in the topic, but will not create a strong change in individuals. The goal of the peripheral process is to create change, this change can be weak and even temporary as opposed to the strong and lasting change in the central route.
Choice of route
The two factors that most influence which route an individual will take in a persuasive situation are motivation (strong desire to process the message; e.g., Petty & Cacioppo, 1979) and ability (actually being capable of critical evaluation; e.g., Petty, Wells, & Brock, 1976). Which route is taken is determined by the extent of elaboration. Both motivational and ability factors determine elaboration. Motivational factors include (among others) the personal relevance of the message topic, accountability, and a person’s “need for cognition” (their innate desire to enjoy thinking). Ability factors include the availability of cognitive resources (e.g., the presence or absence of time pressures or distractions) or relevant knowledge needed to carefully scrutinize the arguments.
The ability to understand the message that is being communicated. Distractions such as noise can affect the ability for one to process a message. An example of noise would be a persuader trying to share his message in a room full of crying babies, this would make it extremely difficult for listeners to concentrate on the message being given. Noise that you can’t physically control would be if a persuaders listeners could concentrate on the message because they had something else on their mind which was more important than the persuaders message like a death in the family, or problems they’re having in their relationship. Another example of this is in children.
A child will change their behavior because his or her parent told them to do so rather than taking the information given and processing it. As that child grows up, however, he or she will have a higher cognitive complexity, and therefore be able to process the information of the situation centrally in order to draw a conclusion of their own. (O’Keefe)
The subject’s general education level, as well as their education and experience with the topic at hand greatly affect their ability to be persuaded. Under conditions of moderate elaboration, a mixture of central and peripheral route processes will guide information processing. There are benefits and consequences for both processes. An individual who disagrees with the message being presented will likely have a boomerang effect if he or she centrally processes the message and bounce farther away from the speaker’s goal. If that same situation takes place, but the message is peripherally processed, a weak change will not have as large of a negative effect on that individual. (O’Keefe)
Type of Elaboration: Objective Versus Biased Thinking
Attitude, motivation, and ability strongly increase the likelihood that a message will be ingrained in the minds’ of listeners. Although, as the social judgement theory suggests, they may not process the information in a fair, objective way. Attitudes are general evaluations that people hold that correspond with how they perceive themselves in relation to the world they live in. One way to influence attitude is to give peripheral cues. Peripheral cues can be things that lead to good or punishing or they can invoke provide guiding rules or inferences. These are often effective because they cause the audience to draw the conclusion themselves, therefore, making them believe it is their own idea, so they buy in to it. (Griffin) Many of the evaluations are based on Cognitive intelligence, behavior, and guidance.
Given a basic understanding of an individuals attitudes one can interpret which type of elaboration would better suit the situation. There are two types of elaboration a listener can possess: (Biased elaboration, Objective elaboration) Elaboration can lead to both positive and negative results depending on the audience who is receiving the message. Individuals who have a Pre conception of a certain topic are going to be much harder to persuade oppose to an individual who has an open mind about a topic where only the facts hold truth. Biased Elaboration: Top-down thinking in which predetermined conclusions color the supporting data.
This is used on people who likely already have their minds made up about a situation before the message is ever conveyed to them (Cacioppo) Ex. Someone who has had a negative personal experience with motorcycles will probably have made up their minds and be biased in the way they process the message. Objective Elaboration: Bottom-up thinking in which facts are scrutinized without bias; seeking truth wherever it might lead. These listeners let the facts speak for themselves and approach the message with an unbias mind. Which leads to a true unbiased result or opinion. (Cacioppo) Ex. A person who is listening to a motorcycle salesman and already has a mindset about them. This person would let the facts influence their attitude.
Testing the Elaboration Likelihood Model
To design a way to test the Elaboration Likelihood Model, it is crucial to determine whether an argument is universally seen as strong or weak. If an argument is inconsistent in opinions of strength, the results of persuasion will be inconsistent. A strong argument is defined by Petty and Cacioppo as “one containing arguments such that when subjects are instructed to think about the message, the thoughts they generate are fundamentally favorable” (Griffin).
In general, a weak argument that is universally viewed as weak will entice unfavorable results if the subject is instructed to and is in an appropriate environment to consider it logically (or when testing the central route of the Elaboration Likelihood Model). In turn, a strong argument under similar circumstances will return favorable results. The test arguments must also be rated for ease of understanding, complexity, and familiarity. To scientifically study either route of the Elaboration Likelihood Model, the arguments themselves must be designed to have consistent results.
Conclusions of the Elaboration Likelihood Model
In addition to these factors, the ELM also makes several unique proposals. It is suggested that attitudes formed under high elaboration, the central route, are stronger than those formed under low elaboration. This means that this level of persuasion is stable over time and is less susceptible to decay or any type of counter-persuasion. Attitudes formed under low elaboration, the peripheral route, are more likely to cause a short term attitude change. Variables in ELM routes can serve multiple roles in a persuasive setting depending on other contextual factors (examples below). Under high elaboration, a given variable (e.g., source expertise) can either serve as an argument (“If Einstein agrees with the theory of relativity, then this is a strong reason for me to as well”) or as a biasing factor (“if an expert agrees with this position it is probably good, so let me see what else agrees with this conclusion” — at the expense of information that may disagree with it). Under conditions of low elaboration, a given variable can act as a peripheral cue.
This could happen, e.g., through the use of an “experts are always right” heuristic. Note that, while this is similar to the Einstein example presented above, this is a simple shortcut, which, unlike the Einstein example, does not require careful thought. Under conditions of moderate elaboration, a given variable can serve to direct the extent of information processing: “If an expert agrees with this position, I should really listen to what (s)he has to say”. Interestingly, when a variable affects elaboration, this can increase or decrease persuasion, depending on the strength of the arguments presented. If the arguments are strong, enhancing elaboration will enhance persuasion.
If the arguments are weak, however, more thought will undermine persuasion. More recent adaptations of the ELM (e.g.) have added an additional role that variables can serve. They can affect the extent to which a person has confidence in, and thus trusts, their own thoughts in response to a message (self-validation role). Keeping with our source expertise example, a person may feel that “if an expert presented this information, it is probably correct, and thus I can trust that my reactions to it are informative with respect to my attitude”. Note that this role, because of its metacognitive nature, only occurs under conditions that promote high elaboration.
Attitudes are evaluations people make about objects, ideas, events, or other people. Attitudes can be positive or negative. Explicit attitudes are conscious beliefs that can guide decisions and behavior. Implicit attitudes are unconscious beliefs that can still influence decisions and behavior. Attitudes can include up to three components: cognitive, emotional, and behavioral.
Example: Jane believes that smoking is unhealthy, feels disgusted when people smoke around her, and avoids being in situations where people smoke. Dimensions of Attitudes
Researchers study three dimensions of attitude: strength, accessibility, and ambivalence.
• Attitude strength: Strong attitudes are those that are firmly held and that highly influence behavior. Attitudes that are important to a person tend to be strong. Attitudes that people have a vested interest in also tend to be strong. Furthermore, people tend to have stronger attitudes about things, events, ideas, or people they have considerable knowledge and information about.
• Attitude accessibility: The accessibility of an attitude refers to the ease with which it comes to mind. In general, highly accessible attitudes tend to be stronger.
• Attitude ambivalence: Ambivalence of an attitude refers to the ratio of positive and negative evaluations that make up that attitude. The ambivalence of an attitude increases as the positive and negative evaluations get more and more equal.
The Influence of Attitudes on Behavior
Behavior does not always reflect attitudes. However, attitudes do determine behavior in some situations:
• If there are few outside influences, attitude guides behavior.
Example: Wyatt has an attitude that eating junk food is unhealthy. When he is at home, he does not eat chips or candy. However, when he is at parties, he indulges in these foods.
• Behavior is guided by attitudes specific to that behavior.
Example: Megan might have a general attitude of respect toward seniors, but that would not prevent her from being disrespectful to an elderly woman who cuts her off at a stop sign. However, if Megan has an easygoing attitude about being cut off at stop signs, she is not likely to swear at someone who cuts her off.
• Behavior is guided by attitudes that come to mind easily.
Example: Ron has an attitude of mistrust and annoyance toward telemarketers, so he immediately hangs up the phone whenever he realizes he has been contacted by one.
The Influence of Behavior on Attitudes
Behavior also affects attitudes. Evidence for this comes from the foot-in-the-door phenomenon and the effect of role playing.
The Foot-in-the-Door Phenomenon
People tend to be more likely to agree to a difficult request if they have first agreed to an easy one. This is called the foot-in-the-door phenomenon.
Example: Jill is more likely to let an acquaintance borrow her laptop for a day if he first persuades her to let him borrow her textbook for a day.
Social Norms and Social Roles
Social norms are a society’s rules about appropriate behavior. Norms exist for practically every kind of situation. Some norms are explicit and are made into laws, such as the norm While driving, you may not run over a pedestrian. Other norms are implicit and are followed unconsciously, such as You may not wear a bikini to class. Social roles are patterns of behavior that are considered appropriate for a person in a particular context. For example, gender roles tell people how a particular society expects men and women to behave. A person who violates the requirements of a role tends to feel uneasy or to be censured by others. Role requirements can change over time in a society.
The Effect of Role Playing and the “Prison Study”
People tend to internalize roles they play, changing their attitudes to fit the roles. In the 1970s, the psychologist Philip Zimbardo conducted a famous study called the prison study, which showed how roles influence people. Zimbardo assigned one group of college student volunteers to play the role of prison guards in a simulated prison environment. He provided these students with uniforms, clubs, and whistles and told them to enforce a set of rules in the prison.
He assigned another group of students to play the role of prisoners. Zimbardo found that as time went on, some of the “guard” students became increasingly harsh and domineering. The “prisoner” students also internalized their role. Some broke down, while others rebelled or became passively resigned to the situation. The internalization of roles by the two groups of students was so extreme that Zimbardo had to terminate the study after only six days.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 27 November 2016
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