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
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
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.