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Societal Psychology:
Dr Tom Reader
A socially relevant Psychology:
attitudes and changing behaviour
Attitudes and Changing Behaviour
Dr Tom Reader
PS443: Societal Psychology - Lecture 3.
Institute of Social Psychology
Lecture Aims
1.
To review the concept of ‘attitude’
2.
To consider the attitude-behaviour link
3.
To consider changing attitudes/behaviour
4.
Discussion Points
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Part 1: Attitudes are a cornerstone of Social
Psychology
•
Why?
1. Belief that attitudes influence (and can explain)
social behaviour
•
E.g. voting intentions, financial decision-making, social
interactions
2. Belief that attitudes can predict future behaviour,
and are changeable
•
Relevance to you?
Dr T Reader. LSE.
But what is an attitude? Gordon Allport
(1935)
Prominent/
accessible
in our mind
Has a
structure
COGNITIVE…
An attitude is…….."a mental or neural state
of readiness, organised through experience,
exerting a directive or dynamic influence
upon the individual's response to all objects
and situations with which it is related"
Triggers
behaviour
FOCUSSES ON THE
INDIVIDUAL…BUT SOCIAL
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Is
situational
Wealth
Politics
Society
Belief
Behaviour
Climate change
Communities
Work-life balance
Social class
Prejudice
Social Psychologists measure
attitudes towards…
Religion
Risk
Organisations
Teamwork
Bullying
Personality
Education
Health
Age
Products
Gender
Family
Leadership
Components of attitudes
Cognition
Behaviour
Affect
Feelings towards
a person, object,
or issue
Behavioural
tendencies
towards a person,
object, or issue
For example…
Reasoning on a
person, object, or
issue
(E.g. Rosenberg & Hovland, 1960)
+
…but individual components only give limited insight,
and are often seen in a social vacuum
Dr T Reader. LSE.
The utility of attitudes
•
Mental short cuts
–
•
A way to express our values
–
•
•
E.g. Reduces the need evaluate others
E.g. For social integration into groups
Mental defence
–
E.g. To maintain psychological well-being (balance theory)
–
E.g. To protect our ego (e.g. against rivals)
Orienting behaviour
–
E.g. towards others or objects
(Fazio, 1989; Heider, 1946; Katz, 1960; Smith, Bruner, & White, 1956;)
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Attitude formation
Experiential


Social
Direct experience with an
object/event (e.g. trauma)

Parents (e.g. moral values)

Communities (i.e. values
Conditioning (i.e. object
change according to norms)
association)

Media (e.g. politics)
Cognitive

Information processing, mental structures, memory binding

Cognitive association, and attitude activation
(For summary, see Hogg & Vaughan, 2001: Chapter 5 )
Dr T Reader. LSE.
How do you measure attitudes?
We focus on outcomes
of attitudes towards
stimulus
Stimulus
Observable
antecedents
Cognitive:
what you know
Attitude
Evaluative:
what you feel
‘Attitudes’ are
veiled
Behavioural:
what you do
Hypothetical
variable
Rosenberg & Hovland (1960) – the Yale model
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Observable
responses
Attitude measurement
•
Thurstone (1928) – “attitudes can be measured”
– Sets of statements are created and sorted by judges as
positive/negative (very labour intensive)
– Respondents endorse statements, and attitudes calculated
•
Likert (1932) technique
– Respondents indicate agreement with groups of statements
– 5-11 point scales are used; reliability is calculated
– Summation of scores are used to calculate attitudes for
individuals and groups
•
Implicit measurement (E.g. Mcrae et al., 1994)
– E.g. response times to implicit stimuli; behaviour;
physiological measurement (BP)
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Most attitude studies assess whether (and to what extent) we have positive
or negative dispositions towards a construct (Photo: Ekman-style face set)……..
…then they work
out what is
normal, and
where
individuals/
groups lie...
…and finally
whether attitude
influences
behaviour
But…the answers are only as good as the
measures….
Sir Humphrey Appleby describes the perfect attitude survey
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Attitude and
behaviour model
Affect,
behaviour,
cognition
Behaviour
Attitudes
Measured by
Likert scales,
association
tests
Formed by social,
cognitive &
organisational factors
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Discussion Point 1.
…but can we really isolate individual
attitudes from the social world?
The majority of attitudinal
studies focus on the
individual…
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Part 2: The relationship between attitude and
behaviour
Research investigating attitudes and behaviour often use
measures of the following:
•
Self-reports of behaviour (e.g. health behaviours)
–
•
Observations (e.g. work behaviours)
–
•
Problems: difficult to check validity, social desirability
Problems: hard to ascribe intention; Hawthorne effects
Implicit measures of behaviour
–
Problems: difficult to design; ethical drawbacks;
measurement accuracy
(e.g. Martin & Bateson, 1986)
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Attitudes towards
health can predict
behaviour (e.g.
smoking, condom
use)…
…but positive
attitudes are not
enough: belief and
efficacy also key…
Attitudes towards
race, class, and
gender predict
prejudiced or political
behaviours…
…but often social
attitudes are implicit,
inconsistent, and
shaped by situational
factors…
Attitudes towards job
satisfaction, safety,
and management
predict work
behaviour…
…but work
behaviours also
shaped by workplace
norms and personal
relationships…
Dr T Reader. LSE.
(Manstead, 1996; Ogden, 2001;Furnham, 1997)
In addition, attitudes are more likely to
predict behaviour when…
…the attitude object is well-defined and salient
–
i.e. attitude must be specific and relevant
…attitude strength is high
–
i.e. attitude must come easily to mind
…knowledge supporting an attitude is plentiful
–
i.e. knowledge increases certainty in behaviour
…attitudes support aspects of the self
–
i.e. they are consistent with beliefs
(Pratkanis & Turner, 1994)
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Attitude and
behaviour model
Organisational
behaviour
Affect,
behaviour,
cognition
But, attitudes frequently:
1. Do not predict behaviour
2. Do not remain stable
3. Are resistant to change
Health
behaviours
Behaviour
Attitudes
WHY?
Measured by
Likert scales,
association
tests
Social
behaviours
Formed by social,
cognitive &
organisational factors
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Discussion Point 2
Attitude change (winning hearts
and minds) is a constant theme
in modern society…
…but do we change
attitudes OR beliefs on the
attitudes that are allowed to
be publicly expressed?
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Part 3: Factors that influence attitude change
and behaviour
Psychologists have attempted to understand
the factors that mediate the relationship
between attitudes and behaviour…
Dr T Reader. LSE.
“Attitudes Versus Actions” (La Piere, 1934)
Discrepancies…
Eating out in 1930s US

La Piere and two Chinese
friends travelled the US.

Ate in 250 restaurants

Wrote to owners

92% of establishments
(out of 128) stated that
they did not accept
Chinese customers
Inconsistencies….(Campbell, 1963)

Attitudes vary across situations, and according to need

Social pressure shapes behaviour, and attitudes can be
inconsistent (e.g. racial prejudice versus hospitality)

General attitudes not predictive (e.g. morals & behaviour)
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Cognitive Dissonance (Festinger, 1957)
A psychological tension…
...produced by simultaneously having opposing cognitions
…reduced by changing attitudes, beliefs or actions
…Festinger & Carlsmith’s classic experiment (1959)
Dangerous
behaviours
Buyers
remorse

Attitudes are developed post-behaviour

What are the implications for attitude-change programmes?

Explains nudge theory? (Thaler and Sunstein, 2008)
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Theory of Planned Behaviour (Azjen, 1991)
• Beliefs about
outcomes
• Evaluations of
these outcomes
• Beliefs about
significant other’s
attitudes to
behaviour
Attitude
towards the
behaviour
Subjective
norm
Need more than
positive attitudes
towards behaviour
Behavioural
intention
Behaviour
• Motivation to
comply with others
• Internal control
factors
• External control
factors
Behaviour
control
(efficacy)
Dr T Reader. LSE.
E.g. Smoking
cessation
Theory of planned behaviour (TPB): evidence
• TPB frequently used to explain health behaviour
change (e.g. condom use) (Brubaker & Wickersham, 1990; Schifter & Azjen, 1985)
• Meta-analyses only provide limited support (Albarracin et al.,
2001; Webb and Sheeran, 2006)
And doubts persists due to theoretical simplicity….

Emotion?

Time?

Correlation, not causation

Hierarchies of beliefs?
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Attitude change – persuasion (Janis & Hovland, 1959)
The target of
persuasion must..
Whether the do this
is influenced by…
Ideally,
resulting in…
Pay attention to
message from
persuader
The communicator:
(e.g. expertise; likeable;
confident
Attitude
change
Comprehend the
message
The message: (e.g.
non-direct; has clarity;
presents arguments)
Accept the
message
Retain the
message
The audience: (e.g.
self-esteem;
intelligence; willingness
to change; personality
But…persuasion is
ongoing and
unpredictable
Outside influences?
Other models? E.g.
elaboration-likelihood
(Petty & Cacioppo, 1986)
See Hogg and Vaughan, chapter 6.
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Attitude control
The ‘inner check’ (Allport, 1954)
The person who wishes to suppress an unacceptable attitude
must regulate “appropriate thoughts, and quell inappropriate
ones” (Wenger, 1994)
This can result in “ironic suppression”
(see the ‘white bear’ experiment; Wenger, Schneider, Carter & White, 1987)
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Devine (1989): Attitude control
Devine (1989): Attitude control
1. Low and high prejudiced
individuals do not differ on
knowledge of stereotypes (n=40)
2. Subliminal priming can cause
low-prejudice individuals to
show prejudicial behaviour
(termed stereotype activation)
(n=323)
Devine (1989): Attitude control
Macrae et al (1994): Attitude rebound
3. Frequently, we inhibit or
suppress negative attitudes
towards others as we consider
them to be immoral or socially
unacceptable…
…but…suppressing a negative
attitude means that it is in our
mind…and it can reappear if we
are stressed or relaxed…
From cognitive to social perspectives…
E.g. Social representations:
Critiques the focus on viewing
attitudes as an ‘individual’ (and
often divisive) construct……
..…rather, knowledge is shared,
negotiated, and embedded within
social structures.
(Moscovici, 1961; Howarth, 2006; Jovchelovitch, 2007)
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Discussion Point 3
Attitude change programmes
attempt to develop
homogenous attitudes towards
numerous things (e.g.
health)…
…who should decide what is a
good or bad attitude, and what
does it mean for diverse beliefs
and thoughts?
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Attitude and
behaviour model
Affect,
behaviour,
cognition
Attitude
consistency,
strength,
dissonance
Situational
factors;
personality
Organisational
behaviour
Health
behaviours
Behaviour
Attitudes
Implicit beliefs
Measured by
Likert scales,
association
tests
Self-efficacy,
social norms
Social Reps
Formed by social,
cognitive &
organisational factors
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Social
behaviours
Examples of my own interest in attitudes…
•
Attitudes towards risk and safety
–
•
Attitudes towards management
–
•
E.g. belief that management prioritise safety in air traffic control
Medical staff attitudes towards patients
•
•
E.g. risk-taking behaviours in oil industry
E.g. for compassion
Attitudes towards teamwork and shared decisionmaking
–
E.g. for senior doctors and bedside nursing staff collaborating to
decide patient treatments; open communication about safety
concerns
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Links to be made…
•
•
•
•
Culture
–
E.g. Attitudes on beliefs, prejudice, society; Social reps
–
Allport, 1967; Ajzen, 1977; Greenwald, 1995; Howarth, 2006;
Organisations
–
E.g. organisational commitment; risk-taking; job satisfaction
–
Ostroff, 1992; Zohar 2000; Sexton, Thomas, & Helmreich, 2000
Communication
–
E.g. Public opinion; attitudes towards science; voting behaviours
–
Lewis, 2001; Miller, 2004; Gaskell et al., 2004;
Health, community and development
–
E.g. Changing health-related attitudes and behaviours
–
Bennet & Bozioneles, 2000; Campbell et al., 2010; Sniehotta, 2010;
Dr T Reader. LSE.
Questions for debate….
1…can we really isolate individual
attitudes from the social world?
2…do we change attitudes OR beliefs
on the attitudes that are allowed to be
publicly expressed?
3…who should decide what is a good
or bad attitude, and what does it mean
for diverse beliefs and thoughts?
Dr T Reader. LSE.
References (1)
•Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Making
Processes, 50, 179-211.
•Albarracín, D., Johnson, B., Fishbein, M., & Muellerleile, P. (2001). Theories of reasoned action and
planned behavior as models of condom use: A meta-analysis. . Psychological Bulletin, 127, 142-161.
•Allport, G. (1935). Handbook of social psychology. Worcester, MA: Clark University Press.
•Allport, G. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
•Campbell, D. (1963). Social attitudes and other acquired behavioural dispositions. In S. Koch (Ed.),
Psychology: A study of science (Vol. 6). New York: Mcgraw Hill.
•Devine, P. (1989). Stereotypes and prejudice: Their automatic and controlled components. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 5-18.
•Ekman, P., & Friesan, W. (1975). Unmasking the face: A guide to recognizing emotions from facial clues.
. Oxford, UK: Prentice-Hall.
•Fazio, R. (1989). On the power and functionality of attitudes: The role of attitude accessibility. In M.
Sorrentino & E. Higgins (Eds.), Attitude structure and function. New York: Guildford Press.
•Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
•Festinger, L., & Carlsmith, J. (1959). Cognitive consequences of forced compliance. Journal of Abnormal
and Social Psychology, 58, 203-210.
•Heider, F. (1946). Attitudes and cognitive organization. Journal of Psychology, 21, 107-112.
•Howarth, C. (2006). How social representations of attitudes have informed attitude theories: the
consensual and reified. . Theory and psychology, 16, 691-714.
•Janis, I., & Hovland, C. (1959). An overview of persuasibility research. In C. Hovland & I. Janis (Eds.),
Personality and persuasibility (pp. 1-26). New Haven: Yale University Press.
Dr T Reader. LSE.
References (2)
•Jovchelovitch, S. (2007). Knowledge in Context: Representation, community and culture. . London:
Routlege.
•Katz, D. (1960). The functional approach to the study of attitudes. Public Opinion Quarterly, 24, 163-204.
•LaPiere, R. (1934). Attitudes vs. Actions. Social Forces, 13, 230-237.
•Likert, R. (1932). A technique for the measurement of attitudes. Archives of Psychology, 22, 44-53.
•Macrae, C., Bodenhausen, G., Milne, A., & Jetten, J. (1994). Out of mind but back in sight: Stereotypes
on the rebound. . Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, , 67, 808-817.
•Martin, P., & Bateson, P. (1986). Measuring behaviour: An introductory guide. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
•Moscovici, S. (1961). La psychanalyse, son image et son public. Paris: Presses Universitaires de
France.
•Petty, R., & Cacioppo, J. (1979). Issue-involvement can increase or decrease persuasion by enhancing
message-relevant cognitive responses. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 751-783.
•Rosenberg, M., & Hovland, C. (1960). Cognitive, affective, and behavioral components of attitude. In M.
Rosenberg, C. Hovland, W. McGuire, R. Abelson & J. Brehm (Eds.), Attitude organization and change: An
analysis of consistency among attitude components. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
•Smith, M., Bruner, J., & White, R. (1956). Opinions and personality. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons. .
•Sunstein, C., & Thaler, R. (2008). Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness: Yale
Press.
•Thurstone, L. (1928). Attitudes can be measured. American Journal of Sociology, 33, 529-554.
•Webb, T., & Sheeran, P. (2006). Does changing behavioral intentions engender behavior change? A
meta-analysis of the experimental evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 249-268.
•Wenger, D. (1994). Ironic processes of mental control. Psychological Review, 101, 34-52
Dr T Reader. LSE.