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Attitudes/psychological theories: Contemporary social psychologists tend to conceptualize attitudes as evaluative dispositions (e.g., Eagly and Chaiken, 1993)(1), and this conceptualization has driven, and continues to drive, the way in which attitudes are measured. >Attitudes and Behavior/psychological theories.
Problem: verbally expressed attitudes may not be an accurate representation of people’s genuine feelings. The recommended solution is to try to measure implicit attitudes. Unlike explicit attitudes, such as those that individuals are aware of consciously and that are assessed by asking individuals to express their attitudes overtly in a questionnaire, implicit attitudes are assumed to be activated automatically in response to an attitude object and to guide behaviour unless overridden by controlled processes. In other words, implicit attitudes exist outside of conscious awareness or outside of conscious control.
Solution: Indirect measures such as the Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald et al., 1998)(2) and evaluative priming (Fazio et al., 1995)(3) rely on response times to measure evaluative biases in relation to different attitude objects. These measures rest on the idea that exposure to a concept or stimulus (e.g., a picture of members of your own racial group) activates concepts in memory (e.g., a feeling that members of my group are generally positive), and then facilitates a positive response to related concepts (e.g., a positive word such as ‘good’) while simultaneously inhibiting responses to unrelated concepts (e.g., a negative word such as ‘bad’).
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(…) the distinction between implicit and explicit attitudes raises interesting questions about the relationship between these constructs. Are implicit and explicit attitudes tapping distinct concepts such that people can hold opposing implicit and explicit attitudes towards the same attitude object (e.g., as suggested by Devine, 1989)(4)? Or do implicit and explicit attitudes reflect a single underlying evaluation, such that the only difference between them is the extent to which they are affected by conscious processes (e.g., Fazio, 2001)(5)?
(…) reviews of the relations between implicit and explicit attitudes have typically found only modest correlations (e.g., r = .24; Hoffman et al., 2005)(6). However, there is considerable variability in the strength of this relationship (with some rs > .40 and others < .10) suggesting that additional factors, such as the desire to present the self positively and the strength of one’s attitudes, are important (Nosek, 2005)(7).
Expression of attitudes: “Verbal expressions of liking are subject to social desirability biases … , physiological reactions may reflect arousal or other reactions instead of evaluation … , and response latencies may be indicative not of personal attitudes but of cultural stereotypes.” (Ajzen and Gilbert Cote 2008(8): p. 289)
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(…) other research points to the importance of attitude accessibility (i.e., the extent to which an attitude is frequently invoked or expressed; Fazio, 1990)(9) and social identity (i.e., the extent to which an attitude is associated with a salient group membership; Terry and Hogg, 1996)(10).
Measuring attitudes: (…) there is now widespread use of tasks, such as the IAT (see above) , to measure implicit attitudes. However, just as Wicker (1969) did in his review of the literature on explicit attitudes, it is important to ask whether implicit attitudes actually predict behaviour and, if they do, do they predict it any better than explicit attitudes? See the review by Greenwald et al. (2009)(11).
1. Eagly, A.H. and Chaiken, S. (1993) The Psychology of Attitudes. Belmont, CA: Thomson.
2. Greenwald, A.G., McGhee, D.E. and Schwartz, J.L.K. (1998) ‘Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: The implicit association test’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74: 1464–80.
3. Fazio, R.H., Jackson, J.R., Dunton, B.C. and Williams, C.J. (1995) ‘Variability in automatic activation as an unobtrusive measure of racial attitudes: A bona fide pipeline’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69: 1013–27.
4. Devine, P.G. (1989) ‘Stereotypes and prejudice: Their automatic and controlled components’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63: 754–65.
5. Fazio, R.H. (2001) ‘On the automatic activation of associated evaluations: An overview’, Cognition and Emotion, 15: 115–41.
6. Hofmann, W., Gawronski, B., Gschwendner, T., Le, H. and Schmitt, M. (2005) ‘A meta-analysis on the correlation between the Implicit Association Test and explicit self-report measures’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31: 1369–85.
7. Nosek, B.A. (2005) ‘Moderators of the relationship between implicit and explicit evaluation’, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 134: 565–84.
8. Ajzen, I. and Gilbert Cote, N. (2008) ‘Attitudes and the prediction of behaviour’, in W.D. Crano and R. Prislin (eds), Attitudes and Attitude Change. London: Psychology Press. pp. 289–311.
9. Fazio, R.H. (1990) ‘Multiple processes by which attitudes guide behaviour: The MODE model as an integrative framework’, in M.P. Zanna (ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 23. San Diego, CA: Academic Press. pp. 75–109.
10. Terry, D.J. and Hogg, M.A. (1996) ‘Group norms and the attitude–behaviour relationship: A role for group identification’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22: 776–93.
11. Greenwald, A.G., Poehlman, A.T., Uhlmann, E.L. and Banaji, M.R. (2009) ‘Understanding and using the Implicit Association Test: III. Meta-analysis of predictive validity’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97: 17–41.
Joanne R. Smith and Deborah J. Terry, “Attitudes and Behavior. Revisiting LaPiere’s hospitality study”, in: Joanne R. Smith and S. Alexander Haslam (eds.) 2017. Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies. London: Sage Publications_____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
S. Alexander Haslam
Joanne R. Smith
Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2017