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The Measurement of Attitudes Psychology of Attitudes • http://web.psych.utoronto.ca/~psy320 Outline • Historic • Measurement Methods – Behavioral Indicators – Physiological Measures – Indirect Measures – Scales and Self-Reports How do we know if someone has a positive attitude towards ice cream? Indicators of Attitudes • • • • • Behavior (She eats it) Affective reaction (She likes eating it) Self-Report (She tells us she likes it) Peer-Report (Her mom tells us) Physiological Measures (heart rate) Birth of Attitude Measurement “Attitudes can be measured!” • Louis Thurstone (1928) attitudes can be measured scientifically • Applied methods of psychophysics to attitudes. Behavioral Indicators Head movement • When people listen to messages they agree with, they tend to move their heads vertically (nod) more than horizontally (shake). Behavioral Indicators Eye Contact • Affiliative Conflict Theory - people who like each other are more intimate and engage in more intimate behaviors like eye contact. • Therefore… If two people like each other, (+ attitude) they will make more eye contact than if they do not like each other (- attitude). Behavioral Indicators Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) Drop in the resistance of the skin to the passage of a weak electric current indicative of emotion or physiological arousal (usually measured in the palm of the hand). Are emotional responses related to attitudes? Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) • Presentation of pleasant words (e.g., love) -> increase individuals’ GSRs (i.e., greater than to neutral). • Same responses with unpleasant words (e.g., rape). • But, not with neutral words (e.g., chair) were presented to the participants, their GSRs remained neutral. What does it mean? Wink Wink! • Does the size of a person’s pupils reflect an attitude? • Study on the pupillary responses of pedophiles to pictures of nude adult women vs. girls. • Their responses were compared to the pupillary responses of regular criminals. Wink Wink Results • Pedophiles’ eyes dilated more when they viewed the pictures of nude girls compared to nude women. • The control group (other criminals) showed the opposite reaction. But… • Failure to replicate these results. • Pupil responds to other features of stimuli other than positive or negative attitudes (cognitive effort dilation). Facial Electromyographic Recording (EMG) • Electrical recording of muscle activity in the facial region obtained by placing electrodes on the face. • Measurement of the muscles needed to smile (zygomatic) and frown (corrugator). Indirect Methods Indirect Methods • Self-report measures of attitudes vs. other paper-pencil evalutions. • Self-report refers exclusively to direct tests of attitudes when a respondent is aware that his or her attitude is assessed. Indirect Methods • Error-choice method -> attitudes may distort our cognitions (Hammond,1948). • “False consensus effect” - tendency to overestimate the number of people who share your beliefs and attitudes (Fabrigar & Krosnick,1995). Indirect Methods • Thistlewaite (1950) used content-driven errors in syllogistic reasoning to study attitudes (syllogism -> conclusion based on 2 premises). Example: – All white people are dumb. – All dumb people should be sterilized. – Therefore, all white people should be sterilized. Indirect Methods • People are less critical to accept conclusions that are consistent with their attitudes - They expect that the reasoning is correct (because congruent with their position). Indirect Methods Example: • If students are intrinsically motivated to learn, then testing can be abandoned. • If students are intrinsically motivated, then learning will increase. • Therefore, learning will increase when testing is abandoned. Indirect Methods • People like others who share similar attitudes (Hendrick and Seyfried,1974). • Questionnaires allegedly completed by other people, and asked respondents how much they liked this individual. The Lost Letter Technique • Milgram dispersed stamped and addressed envelopes in public places (i.e., appeared to have been ‘lost’ by someone). • The letters were addressed to different organizations including UNICEF and Nazi groups. • Rationale: Mailing rates (how many letters were mailed) is indicative of positive attitude. Scales & Self-Reports Scaling • Scales focus on a continuum from very negative to very positive attitudes. Determine where on the continuum the attitudes of individuals fall. • Core assumption – one can measure phenomena by assigning numbers /value on the basis of rules/guidelines. • Measures can have up to 20-30 questions on one attitude object. One-Item Scale • Question that asks how positively or negatively one feels about the AO. • Used in surveys and in experiments because they: 1. Do a sufficiently good job of measuring certain attitudes, 2. Avoid redundancy 3. Are extremely brief (cost-efficient) One-Item Scale Thermometer scale - how “warmly” one feels towards the attitude object. Construction of an Attitude Scale 1. Creating a set of items (statements about the attitude object). 2. Determine the location of the items on an evaluative dimension. 3. Administer the scale to a sample of respondents and verify that respondents interpreted the items as intended. Creation of “good” items 1. Clarity of Attitude Object (i.e., ice cream vs. eating ice cream). 2. Clarity about the Attitude Component (e.g., evaluation, beliefs, affect). 3. Clarity of statement (e.g., avoid double negatives, use simple language). 4. Check clarity using Belson’ (1968) “rewriting method”. Thurstone’s Method of EqualAppearing Intervals 1.Panel of judges sort possible items into groups (positive, negative, neutral) theorized to be equidistant. 2.Items used in the final scale are those with the highest level of agreement among the judges. 3.Respondents are then asked to state if they agree with each of the statements. Attitude scores consist of the average value of the items agreed with. Bogardus’s Social Distance Scale • Attitudes towards members of social or ethnic groups. • Rationale - one’s liking for a group is reflected in the social distance deemed acceptable (in relationship with members of the group). • Respondent’s score = closest distance at which the relationship is seen as acceptable. Continuum of Social Distance 1. 2. 3. 4. Would exclude from my country. Would accept as visitor only to my country. Would accept to citizenship to my country. Would accept for employment in my occupation in my country. 5. Would accept to my street as neighbors. 6. Would accept to my club as personal chums. 7. Would accept close kinship by marriage. Likert’s Method of Summated Ratings • Items based on theoretical understanding of the construct (attitude toward the AO) - Does not require pre-sorting/evaluation by a panel of judges. • Respondents indicate the extent to which they endorse the statements (e.g., agree / disagree). • Each response option is assigned a value (e.g., -2 to +2; 1 to 7). Individuals score is the sum of answers across all items. • Scale homogeneity – items-items and itemsglobal score correlations (not necessarily + correlations). Osgood’s Semantic Differential • Measures the connotative meaning of the attitude object. • Bipolar scales – good ________________________ bad • Score - average of the ratings. Osgood’s Semantic Differential Three elements of meaning to all concepts: 1.Evaluation (good/bad)*, 2.Potency (strong/weak) 3.Activity (active/passive). * most relevant to attitudes. Osgood’s Semantic Differential • Advantage: ability to compare attitudes towards different objects because it uses identical items. • Disadvantage: Bipolar response format (all or nothing). • Solution?? But... Problems with verbal report 1. Participants may be unwilling to report their “real” attitudes because they are socially unacceptable (i.e., social desirability). 2. We may have some attitudes of which we are unaware – and over focus on a single instance/situation. 3. Participants’ response styles can affect their answers (acquiescence or polarization). Problems of Self-Report Measures How to control validity (response sets)? • Social Desirability Scales • Bogus Pipeline Paradigm • Anonymous vs. non-anonymous reports. • The bogus-pipeline procedure is effective in obtaining more honest responses. Number of Items • Important to realize that the more items on a scale, the more reliable (replicable) the measurement. • Many items reduce the chances that the attitude score is due to error or chance. • On the other hand, multiple items can focus on different aspects of the attitude (i.e., lack of homogeneity - scale no longer measures one concept, but two or more. • Even when the scale is homogeneous, the instrument can be fastidious, time consuming and/or redundant. • Researchers usually use multiple indicators when inferring attitudes – i.e., Reduce measurement “error” and increase objectivity.