Social psychology -Attitudes and persuasion

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  • Created by: M.e.D
  • Created on: 13-10-15 13:42

Different approaches to attiudes

Traditional approaches to what an attitide is

  • broadly stable cognotive structures
  • stances/ evalautive positions in regard to everything
  • "attidues are our positive or negative judgements, evaluations, or responses concerneing poeple, events, objects."
  • atitudinal position= how you feel
  • attitudinal target = the thing you have an opinion of 
  • attitudes are in the mind of the beholder - they are essentially mental objects with each of us containing a collection of them in our heads. 
  • debate as to whether or not the definition of attitudes should include behvaiour and thoughts.
  • Attidues can be measured quantifiably = Thurstne scale/ Likert scale
  • these measurments can provide a numeric represenattion of the strength of someones attitide
  • the means of whihch we should measure attitude accuratley and how they realte to behaviour and how this can be used to predict behaviour has been the focus of an enormous amount of research. 

Rhetorical approach to attitudes 

  • Billig (1987, 91, 96) social constructionis theory
  • based on the persuausive talk/ rheotirc that emerged ancient greece 
  • basically there was a greeek philopshopher called Protogoras who said that "for every question there are two sides to the argument - excatly opposite to one another).
  • so Billig used this to argue that we should think of attitudes as questions/ issues that are up for debate/ contorversial
  • e.g. we have attitides about things like nulcear war because that is controverisal however we dont have an attitide about the world being round becasue that is not controversial (at one point in history poeple did have an attitude about this becuase it was debated)
  • we have attitudes about things that are being debated at the momement
  • he sees attitudes as socially situated 
  • and says that the way we express those attitidudes is contextually dependant 
  • so you cannnot accuratley measure the strength of an attitide 
  • in summary Billig says attitudes are based on topics of current controversy and attitude talk/ epression is just designed to argue against counter positions. 
  • Edwards and potter (1992/ 93) - discursive social psyhcology
  • focuses on attitide talk
  • we should be lookin at what is said and why rather focusing on the thoughts or feelings behind it
  • attitude talk = action orientated - aimed to accomplish or 'do' something practical
  • e.g. "that bus service sucks" = sympathy for a campanion
  • what might this attitude talk do in the interaction in light of where/ how and when  it is said. 

How many components does an attitude have??

  • cognotive (thinking)
  • affective (feeling)
  • conative (behaviour)

psychs disagree as to how which of these components is involved in attitudes 

One component

  • Thurstone (1931)
  • attidues = one component - feeling (affective response)
  • positive or negative feeling about anything = an attidue 

Two component 

  • Allport (1935)
  • affective repsonse is insufficient 
  • cognotion is also involved - as well as knowing how poeple feel we should know what they think


  • coherent - cognotive and effective dimensions relate to each other very well (makes sense)
  • distiguishable - they are relatable but clear that they are not


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