Social A 4 - Attitudes and Behaviour

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Intro

Behavior is an important part of the information on which attitude formation is based. Attitudes and actions are very closely related, and are often consistent, because they influence each other in both superficial and deliberate ways. How actions influence attitudes depends on the level of processing: people can make simple action-to-attitude inferences (usually through self-perception processes), or can make deeper considerations of the implications of their actions (through cognitive dissonance processes).

Intro

When people process information superficially, attitudes are based on the associations with actions (rather than inferences). People are more likely to process superficially when they are not motivated, or do not have the ability, to process the information at a deeper/more thorough level.

Intro - Approach Avoidance

Participants were asked to pull open push down on a bar of thinking about whether they liked or disliked the nonsense words. Pulling up on the bar reflects pulling an object closer, pushing away, reflecting pushing an object away. Those who pulled up on the bar liked the words more than those who pushed down. Nodding and shaking your head affects attitudes as well, as was demonstrated in a study. Researchers led participants to believe they were testing the quality of headphones during jogging or bike riding. To simulate jogging, the participants move their heads up and down in a nodding motion. To simulate bike riding then moved their heads from side to side. They listened to a radio broadcast about increase in tuition fees through the headphones, while nodding or shaking their heads. More people nodding their heads agreed with the increase in tuition more than those shaking their heads.

From Action to Attitude via Superficial Processing

1. Self-perception theory 2. The foot-in-the-door technique: Would you mind doing me a small favor? 3. Self-perception processes and volunteering 4. Personality differences and the foot-in-the-door technique 5. From actions to attitudes superficially

Self Perception Theory

Self-perception theory states that actions influence attitudes because people infer their attitudes by observing their own behavior and the situations in which their behavior occurs.

Inferences

Our own actions lead us to make direct inferences about our attitudes. For example, they noticed their rising collection in rock CDs and figure they are into rock music.

Numerous studies support this theory

Using the method of focusing participants on particular aspects of their previous behaviour, and then measuring the attitudes. When attention was drawn to the frequency of their religious activities, they reported favourable attitudes towards religion. These people inferred their attitudes from their behaviour. Another study told students they had expressed support for an idea (or not) unconsciously, they were more favourable towards the idea if they thought they already expressed support.

Sales

Self-perception is used as a popular technique of social influence among advertisers and sales personnel (e.g., getting customers to spend hours thinking up a good slogan for their brand). Free samples: they must like the product if they used it. Game shows: people competing for the prizes makes them seem more desirable.

Foot In The Door

The foot-in-the-door technique works when people process information superficially; it gets people to perform a small act consistent with an intended larger goal. As long as the initial request seems meaningful and voluntary, this makes people infer that they hold attitudes consistent with that behavior, and makes them subject to further influences. Actions are more likely to affect attitudes in this way when people lack the motivation or ability to process more thoroughly

Small Act

This technique gets people to perform a small act consistent with an intended goal. This small "foot in the door" makes people open to further influences, and so they will be more open to agreeing to a consistent/similar large request afterwards.

Self Perception

Initial behavior triggers self-perception processes that lead people to believe their attitude is consistent with the action they have just performed. This "new" attitude then makes it more likely that they will agree to a second, larger request. For example, getting people to sign a petition in support of safe driving. Then two weeks later, asking them to put a big ugly sign in their yard. Three times as many people agreed to the sign if they had made the first small consistent commitment.

Conditions

1. Performing the initial request must be meaningful. It should trigger self-perception processes 2. One way to do this is by asking people to put a lot of effort into the small request. The more the effort, the more likely they are to see their actions as evidence of their support to the cause. 3. It is also important that the first requests remain small, or people will refuse them. For example: being told you are the kind of person who supports charitable causes. They make a small donation, and later donation, which is bigger 4. Performing the initial request must seem purely voluntary. Must not be extrinsic, as this undermines the self-perception process and they will not infer that their behavior is linked to their internal preferences/attitudes. If the behavior is attributable only to the person concerned, they will believe they hold consistent attitudes (and be more likely to accept the larger request).

Personality differences

Consistency: People who are more concerned with being consistent (between their attitudes and their behaviors) are more likely to be influenced by the technique than people who don't care about consistency.

From actions to attitudes superficially

Superficial Processing: People process superficially, and make simple, quick and easy associations between their actions and attitudes, when not much is at stake (when attitudes are unformed, ambiguous, or unimportant).

Importance: Actions are more likely to lead people to adopt consistent attitudes when they think superficially. When attitudes are well established and important, people think more systematically about behavior that might contradict those attitudes. High stakes cause people to think more carefully about the implications of those actions on their attitudes. The importance of the attitude makes the attitude hard to change.

• Cognitive Dissonance: Changing Attitudes to Justify Behavior (pp. 277-289)

1. The theory of cognitive dissonance 2. Justifying attitude-discrepant behavior: I have my reasons! 3. Justifying effort: I suffered for it, so I like it 4. Justifying decisions: Of course I was right!! 5. The processing payoff: Justifying inconsistent actions creates persistent attitudes 6. Dissonance processes and resisting media influence 7. Alternatives to attitude change 8. Cultural differences and dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance

When people become aware that their freely chosen actions violate important or relevant attitudes, this inconsistency produces an uncomfortable state of tension and arousal called cognitive dissonance. For cognitive dissonance to occur, it is important that the attitude is important and self-relevant. This state motivates people to change their initial attitudes to make them consistent with their behavior, or to increase the value they place on a goal, and to emphasize the positive aspects of the chosen option.

Inconsistency, cognitive dissonance, extensive processing

...

4 steps to produce dissonance and resulting attitude change

1. Realisation of inconsistency/negative consequences: Inconsistency among positive and important self images alone is enough to cause discomfort/dissonance. Violations of self.

4 steps to produce dissonance and resulting attitude change

2. Attribution of personal responsibility for the action: Dissonance is only aroused when an internal attribution is made: if people can attribute their actions to external rewards or punishments, they will not experience dissonance. For example, if somebody put a gun to your head and forced you to cheat on an exam, this will not cause dissonance. Students required to write an essay inconsistent with their personal beliefs about free speech experience dissonance.

4 steps to produce dissonance and resulting attitude change

3. Experience of negative arousal: Studies have found that dissonance is actually experienced as a state of uncomfortable or unpleasant physical arousal. Dissonance was experienced when people had the choice not write an essay inconsistent with beliefs, but they still did.

4 steps to produce dissonance and resulting attitude change

4. Attribution of arousal to inconsistency: People have to believe that their unpleasant feelings are a result of the inconsistency of their behavior with their attitudes, in order to focus their attention on that inconsistency. In studies where people had tricked into thinking that they discomfort was due to something else (for example, a pill) they did not experience dissonance.

Change attitudes

It is easier to change attitudes than freely chosen behavior that has already occurred ("I didn't really believe that, anyway"). Attitudes have to be brought in line with previous actions to eliminate dissonance.

Justifying behavior: I have my reasons!

$20: Participants were asked to lie about how interesting they had found a boring study, which in fact was very boring, for either a $1 reward or a $20 reward. Cognitive dissonance, and a change in attitude, were only found for the first group (insufficient justification of one dollar), as participants in the second group attributed their lying to the external reward ($20).

$20

An attitude discrepant behaviour (lying) has potentially negative consequences (the next person is unrealistic expectations about this study) was performed with insufficient external justification (the payment of only one dollar). Cognitive dissonance is aroused, changing attitudes about the task ("it was a challenge rather than a bore") to match behaviour, dissonance can be eliminated. It was seen as less of a lie. Same goes for when people let a mild threat stop them from doing something. They say: "I didn't want to do it anyway".

Justifying effort: I suffered for it, so I like it

Suffering: In cases where people have freely chosen to act in ways that cause them suffering (e.g., staying with an abusive spouse), they change their attitudes to justify that suffering. This is because realizing that they have personally chosen this action causes uncomfortable tension (dissonance), which can be resolved by valuing that goal/action even more.

Justification

The effort-justification effect, which explains that the more effort, time, money, pain, and so on, are put into a goal, the more people value that goal, and change their attitudes towards that valuing.

Suffering and positive importance

Overweight females in a weight loss experiment performed difficult and easy cognitive tasks (separate groups). There wasn't anything which explicitly encouraged women to diet, the tasks had nothing to do with dieting, they were encouraged to keep track of what they ate and were weighed regularly. The high effort group had lost in higher average of weight than the lower effort group. Difficulty of the tasks they freely agreed to do motivated women to increase the positive importance of dieting and weight loss (the goal for which they had suffered). This in turn appear to motivate their weight loss behaviour.

Justifying decisions: Of course I was right!!

Decision: Decisional dissonance exists in that we experience a sort of regret after we make a decision, this represents a tension between what we chose and all the other attractive options we rejected.

Justifying decisions: Of course I was right!!

Product evaluation: One study, women were evaluating and some had the choice of choosing their two most desirable products as a gift for taking part. Upon re-evaluation, they rated their chosen product more positively than the item they rejected. Implications: A focus on implications of a choice increases dissonance and need to reduce it. Dissonance helps people convince themselves they have made the right decision, after they have taken it (e.g. after they vote).

The processing payoff: Justifying inconsistent actions creates persistent attitudes

Long lasting: Attitudes that result from extensive processing (usually to reduce dissonance) last longer than attitudes changed with little thought. In order to reduce dissonance, people have to go through extensive cognitive processing. Attitudes are solid, long lasting and inoculated against further change.

Dissonance processes and resisting media influence

Anti TV-violence messages: It has been shown that dissonance processes can help teach children to resist the effects of violence on television. Kids acted out anti-violence messages and their behaviour changed, they became less impressed with violent TV etc. With no reward, they had to justify attitudes inconsistent with their own behaviour.

Alternative dissonance reduction

1. Prevention: attributing the experienced dissonance-induced arousal to a different source; "something else is bothering me", "all this food deprivation is making me feel grouchy." 2. Prevention: using alcohol, reduction of physiological arousal 3. Trivializing the attitude-discrepant behavior; "a few cookies won't make any difference, and besides, they were low fat" 4. Adding cognitions to make it consonant; "you have to treat yourself once in awhile. Or you just can't stay on a diet"

Alternative dissonance reduction

5. Using alcohol. People writing essays, that were against their attitudes (an increase in fees). Alcohol eliminated the unpleasant tension of dissonance in one essay study, so attitude change never occurred 6. Minimizing personal responsibility; "the cookies were a gift, not eating them would be rude"

Alternative dissonance reduction

7. Self affirmation. "i'm a good person" Study - Lab coat identity: Some science students and some are not. Asked to rate 10 popular record albums, and then given a choice of keeping either the fifth or sixth ranked album (decisional dissonance). In a second part of the study, and they were all asked to wear white lab coats. And then re-evaluate the albums. Science students given the opportunity to reaffirm the positive identity showed no signs of the usual dissonance induced attitude change.

Alternative dissonance reduction

8. Behaviour: changing the attitude-discrepant behavior in the future. Taking action "it's time to practice what I preach" Study - condom use: students who were asked to think about their own condom use after promoting safe sexual health. The ones on the hypocrisy condition were more likely to report increasing the use of condoms.

Reduction is the goal

Whatever can be used to reduce dissonance, will be used, direct ways like self affirmation are preferred though. Motivation plays a part too, the more important the attitude, the less likely it is that people will change.

Cultural differences and dissonance

Dissonance is a violation of an area of the self. The self is defined differently in different cultures so dissonance may arise differently. In independent cultures, a wrong decision is personally threatening and may cause dissonance. Not the case in interdependent cultures where there is more of a social emphasis.

Decisional dissonance task

Canadians in Japanese people were asked to rank CDs, and they were allowed to pick the fifth or sixth one. This creates dissonance, because it means freely giving up all the positive qualities of the other option. Dissonance is resolved by reevaluating your choice more positively than the rejected one. This is what was found for Canadians, but not for Japanese people.

East v West

Western participants experienced dissonance, and justified their decisions by adjusting their attitudes in all conditions; Eastern participants only did so when the social context was made obvious to them.

Superficial and Systematic

When freely chosen but inconsistent actions are trivial or small, and do not violate self-images or important attitudes, self-perception processes can explain the easy/simple change made in the attitude. However, when freely chosen behavior violates an important attitude, people have to think extensively about, or process, their behavior, which causes dissonance; so, in this case, attitude change can be explained by the process of dissonance reduction. Under different conditions and by different processors, superficial and systematic thinking provide means by which behaviours determine our attitudes.

How Attitudes Guide Behavior

1. Attitudes guide behavior without much thought 2. Attitudes guide behavior through considered intentions

Intro:

Established attitudes can guide behavior in two ways: superficially, and in a more considered way. Attitudes can bias people's perceptions of attitude objects, because they focus attention on the consistent characteristics of an object. This bias process increases the likelihood that people's behavior will be consistent with their attitude in a direct way: people respond to the object qualities most salient to them, and behave in attitude-consistent ways.

How Attitudes Guide Behavior

Attitudes can influence behaviors in two different ways: (1) Direct (superficial): they can trigger consistent behaviors directly, with little intervening thought; and in a more considered way, (2) Indirect (Systematic): they can influence behaviors after extensive and deliberate consideration or processing, through the formulation of intentions and plans.

Attitudes guide behavior without much thought (Direct)

Evaluative Summaries: We have sets of information and evaluative summaries (I like/dislike it) about things we have well-established attitudes about. So we just draw on that information to save time and effort and therefore it is more likely to guide behaviour.

Consistent Ice Cream

Attitudes guide people towards information that is consistent with their attitudes and away from evidence that contradicts them. When thinking about things like ice cream: people who like ice cream will think about all the positive aspects and people who dislike ice cream or think about how fattening it is.

Attitudes guide behavior through considered intentions (Indirect)

Effort, consideration and intentions: When people deliberately try to make their behavior consistent with their attitude, they put a lot of effort and consideration into forming intentions to act in a particular way in order to achieve a goal. For example, if your car has broken down, and you have formed a positive attitude into buying a new one, you may thoughtfully consider a lot of information as you form your intention to buy a new car.

4 steps of attitude into behaviour

Step 1: Forming of intentions. Intentions are the biggest predictor of actual behaviour. Theory of reasoned action suggests attitudes and social norms are an important source of intentions, which guide behaviour. Step 2: Activation of behavioural information. Intentions bring to mind everything one knows about performing that behaviour.

4 steps of attitude into behaviour

Step 3: Planning. The optimal way of carrying out the intended behaviour is selected through careful consideration. Step 4: The intended behaviour is carried out if an opportunity presents itself. Behaviour is monitored to ensure that the gap between the present and the desired state is being reduced. Behaviour continues until the goal attained.

Motivation and emotion

Positive emotions can motivate intentions (i.e. reaching a goal and making more plans), whereas negative emotions can prompt revisions of plans.

Time and importance

When consideration is not possible (behaviour has to occur immediately, for example), or choices are not important, behavior will be direct. When the stakes are high and considerable thought is possible, attitudes will influence behavior through their impact on intentions.

Motivation and Opportunity

Different systematic processing requires a lot more effort and concentration than responding in a knee-jerk fashion to salient features of attitude object. This is dictated by motivation and opportunity to engage in thinking. Most routine behaviour is the result of this thoughtful reliance on activated attitudes.

When Do Attitudes Influence Action?

1. Attitude accessibility: Attitudes must come to mind 2. Attitude accessibility in clinical settings 3. Attitude compatibility: The right attitude must come to mind 4. Implicit and explicit attitudes as guides for behavior 5. When attitudes are not enough

When Do Attitudes Influence Action?

Accessible and appropriate: To guide actions, attitudes have to be readily accessible and appropriate to the intended behavior. Attitudes can be made accessible through deliberate thought, self-awareness, or frequent use, or if they are particularly relevant to a particular behavior; and they are more likely to guide behavior if people believe they have (and actually have) control over their behavior.

Attitude accessibility: Attitudes must come to mind

Right time: If it's the attitude that changes perception of the object, and triggers plans and intentions, we need to make sure attitude is brought to mind at the right time if attitude consistent behaviours are to occur. We will not focus on the positive features of the car or form intentions to compare prices, unless we are aware of our positive attitude towards it.

Attitudes must come to mind

Low self-monitors (expressing the true self is important) have more accessible attitudes than high self-monitors.

Attitudes must come to mind

There are a number of ways in which attitudes can be brought to mind at the right time to influence behaviour:

Attitudes must come to mind

1. Deliberately making attitudes accessible: Attitudes are brought to mind by deliberate effort, by thinking about a relevant attitude for a few minutes before taking action. Being reminded of the relevance of an attitude can increase its impact on behaviour. When the attitude is not the uppermost thing on the person's mind, the impact of the attitude on behaviour is reduced.

Attitudes must come to mind

2. Self-awareness: Making people self-aware increases the chance that important attitudes will come to mind, because they are reminded of the extent to which they are acting in accordance with their inner convictions. When participants in a study were made self-aware, this reduced their cheating.

Attitudes must come to mind

3. Automatically: The more often an attitude is brought to mind, the stronger the link between attitude object and attitude. Attitudes that come to mind more frequently lead to more consistent behaviour. Ones that are personally relevant and processed more also come to mind quicker and act as a guide to behaving consistently.

Specific Control

Only attributes specific to a behaviour are likely to guide behaviour. Behaviour is more likely to reflect attitudes if people both believe they have control and actually do have control over their behaviour

Attitude accessibility in clinical settings

Habit control: Habits are repeating behaviours that continue in the face of inconsistent attitudes and intentions. Bad habits can be controlled by just bring to mind appropriate attitudes. Avoiding high risk situations (like a bar for an alcoholic) can be good predictors of successful change. Alcoholics who relapse usually have their first drink in a high risk situation (a bar), where the habit previously occurred. Object-attitude link: Good habits can be learned and strengthened by repeatedly activating attitudes in situations. This then links the attitude and behaviour, so the environment triggers the behaviour, forming a habit.

Attitude compatibility: The right attitude must come to mind

Right time and specific: Attitudes must come to mind at exactly the right time to have the greatest effect on behavior towards an attitude object (must be appropriate and relevant.) To influence specific behavior, specific attitudes must come to mind (e.g., attitudes towards taking the pill specifically and not just birth control in general). Specific attitudes towards the pill were found to be the best predictors of usage in contrast to attitudes about birth control in general.

The right attitude must come to mind

Consistent: Attitude-behavior consistency can only occur when attitude and the attitude object are the same.

Gay preconceptions

Researchers asked if students would show a hypothetical gay student around university. When the description of the gay student matched the preconceptions of the undergraduates, their attitudes (whether positive or negative) towards gays were highly correlated with their willingness to interact. If a student disliked gays and the hypothetical student was a typical gay (matched preconceptions), then they wouldn't want to interact with them.

Implicit and explicit attitudes as guides for behavior

Automatic vs thought out: People's implicit attitudes reflect their automatic evaluations of objects, and can diverge from their explicit attitudes (those overtly expressed). Implicit attitudes reflect more automatic, conditioned responses, less controllable evaluations; explicit attitudes reflect conscious thoughts and considered reactions to objects. Explicit soft drink: Implicit and explicit attitudes and guide different kinds of behaviour. People completed explicit and implicit measures about their attitudes towards Coke and Pepsi. Explicit scores were a better predictor of which drink the person would pick when given a choice.

Implicit and explicit attitudes as guides for behavior

Explicit and implicit importance: Implicit and explicit attitudes influence different kinds of behaviour which may explain why important attitudes are such good predictors of behaviour. For important attitudes, implicit and explicit attitudes are consistent, so they work together to guide both spontaneous and controlled behaviour. When implicit and explicit attitudes differ, either one might influence behaviour more at any given time. Spontaneous implicit and deliberate explicit: For spontaneous behaviours, an implicit attitude that is activated automatically will generally influence behaviour. For more deliberate and consciously considered behaviours, explicit attitudes (whether automatically or intentionally brought to mind) might be the most important. So the right attitude has to come to mind to guide behavior.

When attitudes are not enough

Control: Perceptions of personal control have a big influence on behavior: people do not act on attitudes if they believe they cannot perform the required behavior. When people think they can control their behavior, attitudes are effective in guiding action. This is because perceptions of control produce intentions that then guide attitude-consistent behavior. We don't always have control because of family or friends.

Conclusion

So attitudes are most likely to influence actions when the attitude comes to mind, when it is appropriate, and when attitude-consistent behavior is not constrained in any way.

Summary

Established attitudes can guide behavior in two ways: superficially/directly, and in a more considered/deliberate way. Attitudes can bias people's perceptions of attitude objects, because they focus attention on the consistent characteristics of an object. This bias process increases the likelihood that people's behavior will be consistent with their attitude in a straightforward way: people respond to the object qualities most salient to them, and behave in attitude-consistent ways. Attitudes can also influence behavior in more considered ways by prompting intentions, which activate behavioral information, so people can plan and carry out the intended behavior. If attitudes are to guide behavior, they have to come to mind at the right time.

Summary

Attitudes can be made accessible through deliberate thought, self-awareness, or frequent use, or automatically through triggers from the environment. Attitudes must also be appropriate or relevant to the task at hand, and attitude-consistent behavior should not be constrained in any way; that is, people should have full control over their behavior.

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