Chapter One

David Myers
Behavior and Attitudes
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Chapter Four
 Attitude is a leaning toward or against some
attitudinal object
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 Favorable or unfavorable evaluative reaction toward
something or someone
 How well do attitudes predict behavior?
 When does our behavior affect our attitude?
 Why does our behavior affect our attitudes?
 Changing ourselves through action.
 ABCs of attitudes: (know them!)
 Affect (feelings)
 Behavior…tendency
 Cognition (belief - thinking)
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How Well Do Our Attitudes Predict Our Behavior?
 People’s expressed attitudes hardly predicted their
varying behaviors
 Student attitudes toward cheating bore little relation to
the likelihood of their cheating
 Attitudes toward the church were only modestly linked
with worship attendance on any given Sunday
 Self-described racial attitudes provided little clue to
behaviors in actual situations
 Ps told to assign a task (pos or neg) to themselves or
partner…engaged in “moral hypocrisy”.
“appearing moral while avoiding the costs of being so”
 How so? (Batson et al., ‘97)
 Other examples?
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How Well Do Our Attitudes Predict Our Behavior?
 When Attitudes Predict Behavior
 When social influences on what we say are minimal
 Implicit association test (IAT) (Greenwald, ’02)
Caution! - reliability and validity may be questionable
(Arkes & Tetlock, ‘04)
Implicit biases are pervasive
 People differ in implicit bias
 People are often unaware of their implicit biases
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How Well Do Our Attitudes Predict Our Behavior?
 When Attitudes Predict Behavior
 When other influences on behavior are minimal
- many situational influences!
 Think of some that influence your class attendance
So look at averaging and aggregating them all.
 How well do religious attitudes predict religious behaviors?
 When attitudes specific to the behavior are examined
E.g. costs and benefits for jogging
Theory of planned behavior (Ajzen & Fishbein)
 - Behavioral intentions
 When attitudes are potent
 use a mirror for each student during the exam?
 Would this reduce cheating? (Diener & Wallbom, ‘76)
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When Does Our Behavior Affect Our Attitudes?
Behavior -> attitudes
 We search for and find reasons for explaining
behaviors when the reason is not readily apparent
 Role Playing
 Role
Set of norms that defines how people in a given social position
ought to behave
 Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford’s prison study
Abu Ghraib controversy
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When Does Our Behavior Affect Our Attitudes?
 When Saying Becomes Believing
 When there is no compelling external explanation for
one’s words, saying becomes believing
Remember self-perception theory?
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When Does Our Behavior Affect
Our Attitudes?
 Foot-in-the-Door Phenomenon
 Tendency for people who have first agreed to a small
request to comply later with a larger request
Perceived ‘free will’ also necessary.
Low-ball technique
 Tactic for getting people to agree to something. People who
agree to an initial request will often still comply when the
requester ups the ante
 Used by some car dealers
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When Does Our Behavior Affect
Our Attitudes? Beh-> attitudes
 Evil and Moral Acts
 Wartime
Actions and attitudes feed on each other
When evil behavior occurs we tend to justify it as right
Boca Haram in Nigeria? Wilayat Gharb Afriqiya
 Peacetime
Moral action, especially when chosen rather than coerced,
affects moral thinking
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When Does Our Behavior Affect
Our Attitudes?
 Interracial Behavior and Racial Attitudes
 Racial behaviors help shape our social consciousness
By doing, not saying racial attitudes were changed
 Legislating morality (supreme court and Coleman report)
 Why was forced bussing such a failure? (S. Cook)
 No “perceived choice or equal status”
 Social Movements
 Political and social movements may legislate behavior
designed to lead to attitude change on a mass scale
-should we pledge allegiance to the flag? Sing the national
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Why Does Our Behavior Affect Our
 Self-Presentation: Impression Management
Strategic objective -
 Assumes that people, especially those who self-monitor
their behavior hoping to create good impressions, will
adapt their attitude reports to appear consistent with
their actions
 Cognitive Dissonance (reduce discomfort)
beliefs don’t fit…a need for consistency and logic
 Self-perception theory
(when uncertain, we look to our behavior and make selfattributions)
Billy Graham
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Why Does Our Behavior Affect Our Attitudes?
 Self-Justification: Cognitive Dissonance (L Festinger)
 Tension that arises when one is simultaneously aware of
two inconsistent cognitions
To reduce this tension, we adjust our thinking
 Is smoking dangerous?
 A revision of attitudes after no weapons were found (2003)?
Engage in “selective exposure” what is that?
 Is it more or less likely to happen in the world of the internet?
 Insufficient justification
Reduction of dissonance by internally justifying one’s
behavior when external justification is “insufficient”
- which was more interesting? The $1 or $20 dollar payment?
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Why Does Our Behavior Affect Our Attitudes?
 Self-Justification: Cognitive Dissonance
 Dissonance after decisions
Deciding-becomes-believing effect (J. Brehm)
 -”choice influences preference”
 Value of what we chose is enhanced after we buy it.
 Do children and monkeys do it too?
Can breed overconfidence
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Why Does Our Behavior Affect Our Attitudes?
- a simpler theory - Self-Perception Theory (D. Bem, ‘72)
 When we are unsure of our attitudes, we infer them
much as would someone observing us, by looking at our
behavior and the circumstances under which it occurs
Expressions and attitude
Over- justification (Festinger & Carlsmith) and
Intrinsic motivations (Deci & Ryan)
 Can being paid for work undermine intrinsic motivation?
 Do we undermine intrinsic interest in education by giving
grades? And testing?
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Why Does Our Behavior Affect Our
 Comparing the Theories
 Self-Perception Theory (explains attitude formation)
 Dissonance Theory (explains attitude change)
 Dissonance as Arousal
 “self-affirming” reduces threats to our integrity
 Self-Perceiving when Not Self-Contradicting
 Changing Ourselves Through Action
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