Application: The Psychology of Attitudes
Most attempts to influence or persuade you focus on changing your attitudes toward an object, issue, or group of people. Why is this the case, and how do you know when an attempt to change your attitudes has succeeded or failed? The Learning Resources provide information from leading researchers in the study of attitudes. The material will help to define what an attitude is, why you develop and hold attitudes in the first place, the degree to which your attitudes are conscious or unconscious, and how researchers can measure attitudes in order to determine when an influence strategy changes the way you think and feel about something.
To prepare for this assignment:
Review Chapter 2 in the course text, Persuasion: Psychological Insights and Perspectives, the article titled “Sources of Implicit Attitudes,” and the course document, “Brief Historical Development of Influence and Persuasion,” focusing on the information on attitudes. Think about the following questions as you conduct your review.
What is an attitude? What is an attitude object? What is a strong attitude and what determines its strength? What types of information underlie most attitudes? What three functions are served by the attitudes you hold?
According to the article “Sources of Implicit Attitudes,” what are implicit attitudes, and how do they differ from explicit attitudes? How are implicit and explicit attitudes formed?
Why measure attitudes? How do we measure attitudes? Carefully consider the pros and cons to using the following methods of attitude measurement:
Single-item direct measures
Multiple-item direct measures
Indirect measures based on behavior
Indirect measures based on judgmental biases
Physiological measures of attitudes
The assignment (1–3 pages):
Answer the question: What is an attitude? After you define the concept, provide an example of an attitude toward a health topic, and describe the affective and cognitive components of that attitude.
Describe a single-item direct measure of the attitude toward the health topic in the example above.
Describe two limitations or potential problems with single-item direct measures of attitudes, and describe how each can be solved. Be sure you define the problem clearly before describing your solution
Describe a multiple item direct measure of the same health topic described above. Provide sufficient detail so the instructor can determine if the measure avoids the problems you described.